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El Narco, By Ioan Grillo


After a decade reporting on its awesome horrors, English journalist, Grillo, characterises the Mexican Drug War as "smoky, black murkiness… [but] not a random explosion of violence."

Brave, terse and absorbing, his despatches tell the story from the gomeros (gummers), who scrape poppy pods in the state of Sinaloa, via the Zetas drug gang, mainly recruited from the military (their name derives from a code word used by special forces), to the "incredible popularity" of drug ballads.

You read this book hypnotised, then like Grillo, you "pause and shudder inside".