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'Cartel' dives deep into Mexico's drug wars

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'The Cartel' by Don Winslow
'The Cartel' by Don Winslow
Courtesy of Knopf

Every week, The Thread recommends a book that offers a fresh perspective on the news.

On July 13, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman escaped from Mexico's Altiplano Federal Penitentiary. The notorious drug lord remains on the loose — so does Adan Barrerra.

Both are ruthless Sinaloan drug cartel chiefs. Both are in thrall to a former Mexican beauty queen. And both somehow broke out of the highest-security prison in Mexico.

While Guzman is real, Barrerra is the creation of writer Don Winslow, in his novel "The Cartel."

"The Cartel" is the cat and mouse story of Barrerra and the DEA agent who once admired him, but now hunts him. Here's the thing: The fiction parallels the news so closely I have to keep reminding myself that one is art and the other real life.

Winslow has long followed Guzman's career, which heavily influenced his novel. He believes that Guzman's escape will only enhance his Robin Hood reputation. He wrote recently on CNN, "Songs will be written and sung, kids will listen to them and aspire to be the next Chapo Guzman."

As authorities scramble to locate Guzman, find out one way the story could end and pick up Winslow's "Cartel."

Tell me what you're reading on Twitter @thethreadmpr and @KerriMPR.

Kerri Miller is the host of MPR News with Kerri Miller and Talking Volumes.