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The Power of the Dog

Don Winslow's The Power of the Dog is pretty much an old fashioned trash pulp thriller, with a few James Ellroy-esque stylistic touches.

Like a lot of pulp trash thrillers, it is deeply compelling - I'm struggling to put it down, which doesn't happen with many books.

I'm enjoying the scenery - Mexico, Texas, New York City - and the grotesquely tacky criminal stereotypes.

What is most powerful, however, is Winslow's evocation of people without conscience, or conventional morals. It's hard for reasonable, non-psychopathic people to conceive of why or how anyone could commit assault, or murder, or torture somebody. And yet, those things happen.

One particularly upsetting chapter takes the form of a romantic love story, concluding in a decapitation of one lover by the other, and the murder of two children. It's horrible - the kind of thing I frown upon in horror stories, where child abuse is a shortcut to affecting the reader - and fictional. Nonetheless, it seems terrifyingly plausible.

Why do rich and powerful criminal even have wives and children?