Don Winslow’s The Cartel claims the Steel Dagger

After a year of judging the greatest contemporary thrillers out there, the judges have decided upon a winner: Don Winslow’s The Cartel, published by William Heinemann.

Described by the judges as a ‘viscerally realistic report from the drug wars in early 2000s Mexico…brutally authentic and immersive, this thriller is a powerful enough achievement as a gripping fact-driven narrative, but transcends as fiction through Winslow’s taut portrayal of a violent revenger’s tragedy.’

The novel is the second in a series which began with The Power of the Dog, published in 2005. Published 10 years later, but set in 2004, The Cartel follows DEA agent Art Keller in his war on drugs and the bitter feud it entails against Adan Barrera. His adversary is the head of El Federacion, the world’s most powerful cartel, and the man who brutally murdered Keller’s partner. The novel features gruelling, true-to-life portrayals of corruption, revenge, honour and sacrifice, lending pathos and gut-wrenching realism to its thrilling narrative.

Chair of the Steel Dagger for 2015/16, Josephine Lane writes:

‘This year saw many terrific thrillers entered into the running for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, but Don Winslow is an exceptionally worthy winner.  The Cartel is a tense and addictive thriller, made all the more compelling by the vivid reality that seeps into every page.  It is a book that is chilling and interesting in equal measure and we can’t recommend it enough.’


Don Winslow is an internationally bestselling author of nineteen novels, including, Savages and The Winter of Frankie Machine. A former investigator, anti-terrorist trainer, and trial consultant, Winslow lives in Southern California. Find out more at his website here.

Find out more about the Steel Dagger award here.

The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award is one of several ‘Daggers’ presented by the Crime Writers Association. For more information, please click here.

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