The Power of The Dog ranks as the best thriller I have ever read. A call I can make unequivocally because it is the perfect thriller. It has everything you could possibly want; a rogue DEA agent, a charismatic Drug Barron, the Mafia, the CIA and much more.
Don Winslow spent seven years researching the book but has still written a fast paced page-turner that is impossible to put down. Set on the US/Mexican border the novel spans 30 years of the War on Drugs. Winslow sucks you in with great characters on both sides of the law and both sides of the border. The good guys are bad, the bad guys are good and the whole War is a complete and utter tragic farce. The thriller is so spot on it has even been referenced in non-fiction books on the drug war in Mexico.
Winslow is still a bit of an undiscovered gem. Those who have discovered his books know how fantastical all of them are yet he still doesn’t have the profile of a Michael Connelly or Ian Rankin and he literally blows those guys off the page.
Hollywood has also been slow to find him. The first venture to the screen was the truly abysmal The Death & Life of Bobby Z. This was a brilliant book that just fell absolutely flat on screen. I think it even ended up being a straight to DVD release. The Winter of Frankie Machine was optioned by none other than Robert De Niro who also wanted to star but I don’t think even pre-production has begun on that project. Winslow himself has been trying to get A Cool Breeze on the Underground made and Leonardo Di Caprio has optioned Satori.
But Hollywood and Don Winslow might have finally cracked it with Savages. Winslow has penned the screenplay and Oliver Stone is in the director’s chair and the early reviews are already hailing it as the next Pulp Fiction and Stone’s best work in a decade. Hopefully Savages is the big break Winslow deserves with readers and with Hollywood.
And if it is with Hollywood they have to make The Power of the Dog. And a movie will not do it justice. This book is screaming out for the HBO treatment: a 10-13 part mini-series. It has everything a great HBO series needs: sex, violence, politics and a big cast. It ranges from Mexico to California to New York and South America. There are charming psychopaths, an obsessive cop, CIA double agents, a priest and a prostitute and violence to rival Game of Thrones. And despite being written in 2005 the story is probably more topical now in 2012.
So make sure you see Savages when it opens and if you like it read a Don Winslow because no matter how good a movie is the book is at least ten times better and any one of his books is just brilliant.
PS If you’ve already read The Power of the Dog who do you think should star in a TV mini-series?