The author describes the inner workings of the Cali cartel and the history of the drug trade in Colombia, but Salcedo's emotional struggle drives the story. Initially, Salcedo is excited to be head of security for Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, the leader of the $7-billion-a-year cartel. But soon Salcedo realizes his new boss is as ruthless as Columbia's other drug lords. It takes Salcedo five years before he enlists the help of the Drug Enforcement Administration to bring down the cartel and save his family.
Rempel reconstructs in surprising detail conversations, scenes, and events from Salcedo's time in the cartel. He alternates accounts of these events with dialogue, giving the story an exciting, novelistic feel that enables the reader to engage easily with the characters. Rempel makes clear the complicated relationships within the cartel, and provides fascinating insight into the most powerful minds in the international drug trade-both those who lead it and those who wish to destroy it.
Though nothing is extremely graphic, readers should know that Rempel includes descriptions of assassinations as well as a party scene involving prostitutes.