Of all the blows delivered by Don Winslow’s Cartel trilogy, none may be as devastating as the timing of The Border, its stunner of a conclusion ... This is a book for dark, rudderless times, an immersion into fear and chaos. It conjures more lawlessness, dishonesty, conniving, brutality and power mania than both of the earlier books put together. Because of that chaos, it might have benefited from an indexed cast of characters. But Winslow can’t provide one. For one thing, it would be a spoiler. You just have to watch these miscreants as they drop ... Winslow describes sting operations with immersive, heart-grabbing intensity. You don’t read these books; you live in them ... Last and never least with Winslow: the matter of languages. He is fluent in many of them, and The Border once again shows off those talents.
The Border is a furious, impassioned novel that directs its anger at a wide assortment of targets. Some of the angriest (and probably most controversial) moments come through Winslow’s scathing account of the 2016 presidential election ... The resulting portrait of greed and influence peddling at the highest levels of government lends an extra layer of outrage to an already white-hot narrative ... The Border guides us through a savage, wholly believable world. The result is a powerful — and painful — journey through a contemporary version of hell. Rarely has hell been so compelling.
Don’t be daunted by the imposing length of this epic crime novel—Don Winslow justifies every one of its arm-straining 700-odd pages. Winslow is a writer’s writer, but his work is also a gift to all discerning crime readers ... Winslow has excelled again with the final novel in the trilogy, The Border, every inch as pungent and involving as its predecessors ... With a dramatis personae that makes Tolstoy look underpopulated, this is Winslow at his sensational best.
Mr. Winslow writes gripping action sequences and wields statistics like a crusading journalist. Grand in scope, audacious in its political portraits, convincing in its socio-economic arguments and humane to the core, The Border is not only a formidable thriller but an important and provocative work.
The Border, like all of Winslow's books, is written in Winslow's voice, which is choppy, curt, atonal, ugly. It's the voice of someone who's trying to make fun of bad tough-guy pulp — stringing together the least amount of words into a sentence, the least amount of sentences into a paragraph. Worse, the voice of someone faking the affectation (which Winslow is not) ... The book is trope-heavy, stereotype-heavy, occasionally (okay, often) one-dimensional. It feels, for long stretches, like watching a fantastically good 80's action movie — one of those made in the days before self-awareness and irony became marketable ... All of that to weigh against the counterargument, which is that The Border is a very good book precisely because of some of those reasons mentioned above. Because it is a huge, meticulously researched book that comes at the end of a series 20 years in the making. Because it is a book that eschews flowery language for precision and quick action. Because the internal monologues of quiet men are often the ways we are given to understand their internal histories. Because — and I am not saying this lightly — this is all basically Shakespeare ... But taken all together, in its entirety — taken as a full, sweeping, fictionalized tale rooted and grounded in very real tragedy — The Border becomes a book for our times.
The Border is riveting to the end no matter how Byzantine its plotlines. This is so timely it’s ahead of the curve ... While the ground floor of the book is the internecine warfare among the Mexican cartels — the descriptions of their brutality are savage and unsettling, YouTube notwithstanding — The Border has an overlay rich with deftly wrought relationships ... As usual, Mr. Winslow writes so deftly a character can disappear for several chapters, effortlessly picking up where he or she left off. And, as usual, he tackles the conundrums that plague the body politic, the paradoxes impervious to reconciliation ... No one blends morality play with thriller like Don Winslow.
... a brilliant, funny, complex and exciting novel, brutally violent ... And so we get one of the book’s major flaws: the cast is too big. Particularly in the Mexico section ... There are countless scenes of gangsters sitting down to discuss the issues they’re having with other gangsters, planning shipments and violent strikes, counterstrikes, compromises. It’s a lot ... Winslow’s overall story, while incredibly complex and huge, is communicated with speed and clarity and insight and spectacle. It can get overwhelming at times, intimidating, but a reader who surrenders to the complexity can trust in Winslow’s ability to tie everything together so that even a glossy understanding of certain sections, as they unfold, will be made clearer in retrospect ... The Border feels like it might be too quick on the trigger in its portrait of the present day, however riveting that portrait may be ... The Border is an outstanding book, and a solid conclusion to Winslow’s trilogy. That it gets a little too ambitious at times, and maybe lacks some of the footing of its predecessors, does nothing to subtract from the finger-slicing haste with which pages fly. On its own, The Border stands as a masterful work from a novelist at the top of his profession. Collected with its predecessors, it makes for a masterpiece.
The publication of the concluding volume in Winslow’s epic Cartel Trilogy represents a landmark moment in crime fiction, and it couldn’t come at a more propitious time ... in the end, it is Winslow’s remarkable ability to translate the utter fiasco of our 50-year War on Drugs into the most wrenching of human stories, tragedy seemingly without end, that gives this novel its unparalleled power ... all of those stories come together in a crescendo of pain mixed with courage ... [Winslow's] prodigious research and ability to combine massive amounts of detail into a structured whole show on every page of this trilogy. But coming through with equal force is his eloquence.
Powerful and troubling ... The novel, written in muscular, fast-paced prose, portrays torture, assassinations, mass murder, police payoffs, mass incarceration and political corruption from Guatemala to Washington, D.C.
What Winslow has created in The Border is a politically explosive war epic that chronicles an arc of history over nearly half a century of a stalemated battle ... It’s a powerful, captivating, thought-provoking book ... In the sinewy prose of a crime thriller, the novel encompasses numerous settings and characters, as Winslow deftly transports readers inside the lives of those on both sides, from a young heroin junkie on the streets of New York to the party boys who represent the next generation of drug lords. Weighing in at more than 700 pages, The Border gives Winslow’s characters plenty of space for inner examination and self-justification.
And Winslow, his portraiture skills keener than ever, makes each of these villains convincing and complex, even as he embroils them in a labyrinthine power struggle ... Each life is evoked with such immediacy and each episode infused with such tension that any one of these overlapping dramas could be a short story. Taken together, dexterously layered and shot through with action, they constitute a triumphant grand finale.
[The Border is] the eerily prescient and scathing climax to what is quite simply the most important crime saga in modern literature ... never before has Winslow served as a kind of cultural soothsayer the way he does in The Border. And that is saying something ... The Border puts politics front and center. As equally unforgiving as its predecessors, it puts the onus square on the shoulders of the American public and asks you to consider some hard truths about addiction.
Winslow is a masterful stylist and the pages just fly by. The book is full of illuminating history, visceral action and deep, truthful emotion ... This 700-page doorstopper is the best this writer has produced and should solidify his status as one of the most important writers working today ... Don’t miss out on this book, nor the series. It is a masterpiece.
The must-read book of the decade ... powerful, raw, and at times, overwhelmingly heartbreaking ... Much like his fictional character, Winslow has spent a substantial part of his life following the drug wars. Known for his unprecedented research and expert-level understanding of how the cartels operate, Winslow’s knowledge and passion bleed through each and every page as he crafts yet another masterpiece that feels ripped straight from the headlines. In fact, it’s almost eerie how much Winslow’s plot mirrors real life, and even those who oppose his political beliefs will be forced to reconsider their position after taking in this story and seeing the vivid, heart-stopping image he paints for readers ... represents the most epic crime saga of our time, all told in a way that only he could deliver . . . and The Border is his finest work to date. While it’s sad to see this series come to an end, Winslow sends it out with a bang that readers won’t soon forget.
The bad guys begin to drop off in a tale that’s part Tom Clancy, part didactic and ever-so-gritty how-it’s-done asides and part old-school shoot’em-up ... Jack Ryan’s got nothing on Winslow's guy. An action-filled, sometimes even instructive look at the world of the narcos and their discontents.