Friday, July 25, 2014

Booknote: Methland

Reding, Nick, Methland: the Death and Life of an American Small Town. New York, Bloomsbury, 2010. ISBN: 9781608192076. 

Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Current events, memoir, social issues 

This book does two things. One, it looks at a period of three years (2005-2007) in the life of Oelwein, Iowa, a rural community devastated by meth like so many other rural areas. Oelwein is not just hurt by meth. A depressed economy, consolidation in agriculture and pharmaceutical industries, and people leaving all serve to devastate the town. So, Reding shows us the town and its suffering in a direct, open, and honest way. Two, he goes on to look at the larger national picture. For example, how intense lobbying by Big Pharma basically went on to enable the meth makers and their businesses by facilitating the availability of raw materials needed to make meth.

The book is definitely a must-read. Reding creates a narrative that goes from small town to national levels and back to small town seamlessly. He dispels common myths about meth in rural America and shows that meth is not just a "rural problem." The prose is easy to read and engaging. We see the problem not as something abstract and distant but as a problem affecting human beings. From the town mayor engaged in a titanic struggle to revive the town and its economy to the local district attorney who often prosecutes the same individuals over and over, to the addicts and meth traders, this is a story of people. It is in those human stories that the strength of the book lies. However, the author has also done his research, and you can read about it in the "Note on Sources."

This is one I am giving 5 out of 5 stars.

Librarian note of books similar in appeal factors that I have read:
 (The review portion of this post ends here. Below are further reading notes I made as I read the book. Read on if interested.)

Some of my reading notes from the book:

  • Reding went to Oelwein, and then to places such as California, Idaho, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, and Missouri, small towns and big cities, in order to give us context for Oelwein and the meth problem, a problem that even draws from places as far away as China. It documents the death (and rebirth) of the town and the birth and life of meth. We learn that small town America is not really the idyllic place many people think it is, but it neither a wasteland or just flyover country. 
  • I barely recall this, but methamphetamines were at one point prescribed for things like weight loss, even as recently as the 1980s. 
  • The drug became in large measure something for workers in jobs such as meat packers to be able to stay awake and work the long, exploitative, low pay hours such industries are known for. 
  • Connection to illegal immigration. Meth networks through illegal immigrants, including those who work at places like meat packers who are notorious for hiring workers with no strings, so to speak. At least until the meat packer closed due to consolidation in the industry.
  • Lori the meth entrepreneur before meth got much more industrialized at one point was more than just a drug peddler. She owned multiple businesses and her operation employed many people. "She donated plenty of money to the local police and to the county sheriff. She planned to open a day care center and video game arcade next to Wild Side, so local kids would have somewhere to go while their parents were at the bad. Together, Lori and meth were an antidote to the small-town sense of isolation, the collective sense of depression and low morale that had settled on Ottumwa since most farms went belly-up, the railroad closed, and the boys at the meatpacking plant lost their jobs" (71).
  • A big problem for the U.S., not just in this book, but in general if we are observant is what Dr. Douglass Constance, a sociologist from Sam Houston State U. sees of the U.S. as "psychological and not sociological nation." This means that "we will always hold the individual responsible over the group, blaming the drug addict instead of investigating the environment in which he grew up, and (conversely) celebrating the quarterback above the team following a win" (92). I am all for personal responsibility, but there has to be some consideration of other factors, especially when the odds are so heavily stacked against the individual. And by the way, I always do find irritating how a quarterback, or a coach, takes all the glory for a team without acknowledging the work of the team in getting that win. Coaches and quarterbacks would be nothing without the rest of the field players who make it happen. By that token, perhaps the meth problem would not be as acute if social and environmental conditions did not make it so easily available to make and sell and did not drive people to desperation due to corporate greed and consolidation that puts people out of honest work. 
  • The complicity of Big Pharma: "What came into view is that pharmaceutical industry lobbyists had blocked every single anti-meth bill in the last thirty years with the help of key senators and members of Congress" (107). Now, don't blame it all on Big Pharma. The legislation Congress did make was not always the best. Locally, towns like Oelwein resorted to local laws and ordinances that often violated civil rights all for the sake of eradicating the meth problem. A lot of people did a lot of things that were either not too bright or just not things to be proud of for the sake of fighting meth. As for Big Pharma: "'It's blood-money,' says Loya [law enforcement agent]. 'That's all it is. The drug companies don't care that you can treat a cold without pseudoephedrine, or that pseudo isn't a cure for cancer. Medically, it's a useless drug. Economically, though, it's a gold mine. Looking at thirty-five years of this debacle, you can't help but see how things work in this country" (254).
  • Book also worth reading to get a good understanding of how the centralization and consolidation of the food and agro industries played a role in the spread of meth as well. This is because once a big corporation, like Cargill or Monsanto, eliminates the competition, they then go after political power, start lobbying and buying influence in order to get favorable political decisions. The monopolies are back in force. 
  • Meth trafficking, and drug traffic in general, is like the flu. It mutates (which is why we need a new vaccine for it every year, by the way). "Drug traffickers stay around by making keys to government locks, at times before the locks are even thought of" (209). The DTOs are smart and dynamic; heck, they are better at planning strategy than the government ever will be. By the time the government locks something up, they already have a bunch of other ways to overcome or just flat out bypass whatever the government restricted. "All a drug needs in order to mutate is a body politic; the shift occurs where that body is weakest-- where unemployment is high and poverty is rife, and people are disabused of their marginalization, or their 'disconnectedness' from the core" (209). It is not just in places like Somalia or Yemen. It is right in small town America in places like Oelwein, Ottumwa, and El Paso, Texas. 
  • Oelwein does improve as the mayor, Larry Murphy, does manage to bring in some jobs. It is not completely saved, but as of 2009, when the author returns, it is a start on a good path.

Signs the economy is bad: July 25, 2014 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it. 

We made it to another Friday here at The Itinerant Librarian. We have a small selection of stories this week, including some in higher education. As my four readers know, higher education, for all its ideals, has its little dirty secrets and not-so-secret things. This week we feature a couple of stories from higher education that highlight the not so nice side of the Ivory Tower. In addition, it seems the uber rich have it good this week, as we shall see.

  •  Let's start with a look at the big picture. Truthdig reports on a new United Nations report, the 2014 Human Development Report. According to the article, "almost one-third of all humans are living in poverty, or very close to it." We are talking about 22 billion people. I don't know about you, but that does seem like a lot of people to me. And there is more. It seems more people are at risk of falling back into poverty. You can find the report at this UN page with options to download in various languages.
Now let's see. The uber rich have had some good moments, but they have also faced some very tough moments. And you know the economy is bad when the uber rich have it bad. Let's see how what's been happening in the world of the rich and glamorous.

  •  The uber rich often worry about things like property values. They buy expensive property; they keep fancy houses, and when in the city, they live in high rises. New York City is a very desirable place for the uber rich. Sadly for them, other hoi polloi live in the city, and since living spaces are so scarce and expensive, the city has measures in place to help the not so uber rich. This includes things like rent controls. However, the rich do not particularly appreciate having to share their gorgeous high rises with the common people. So, in places like this, they set up separate entrances to the building so they do not have to see poor people among them (Story via Addicting Info). Imagine the horror of Mrs. Hunting-Wellington St. John arriving in the building to see some plumber using the same entrance. And by the way, the uber rich residents do not want the peons using the pools or the nice spaces and amenities of the building neither. Because you need to keep the masses in their place.
  • Now, as if things weren't bad enough with having to share your fancy condo building with common people, the streets are not much better for the uber rich. It is bad enough they may have to mingle with people, but then there are homeless. Ew ew ew. Those horrible bums not only bring down property values, but they take away from the charm of nice places, and who knows what else they bring. Again, the horror. So, they feel a need to get rid of them, which leads them to work to pass laws to criminalize the homeless (story via PBS Newshour). Yes, being homeless is becoming a crime in more cities, and they could not care less how you got to be homeless.  Oh, and did we mention "a national shortage of shelter beds and housing options is roiling the system." It's tough to be rich with all those homeless people clogging up the streets.
  • Now, speaking of crime, it is commonly known that there are two justice systems in the United States. There is the hard time penitentiary dungeon time for the poor, and there is the cozy club nice detention, or better yet alternative options for the rich. If you are a poor schmuck with a drug problem or alcohol, it's jail for you, you doggone deadbeat trash. Period. However, if you are a rich urban mom, and you get busted, you can choose to get an addiction coach to help you through your "issue." In fact, it seems addiction coach is becoming a new lucrative career path. Story via AlterNet. Because it is tough being rich with a little alcohol problem. I mean, all those temptations. According to the article, "if you’re a celebrity like Lindsay Lohan, a trust-fund baby, or perhaps a Wall Streeter with a problem, your sobriety coach will accompany you to social events, sometimes posing as a yoga teacher or life coach, to keep you from popping a pill or snorting a line. She will pry the drink out of your fingers at weddings and polo matches. She will even move into your house to keep you from falling off the wagon." If you are a poor woman with kids? No coach for you. It's jail, no medical care, and your kids get taken away. 
  • Meanwhile, in higher education, like many other employers, they like paying the least possible for labor. The adjunctification of higher education is a well known phenomenon. For the most part, adjuncts are the bottom of the labor barrel for colleges, and colleges tend to do only the absolute minimum in terms of compensation, facilities, so on. Now, one college is taking doing the absolute minimum when it comes to adjunct hiring. Apparently, it is too much trouble for this one college to hire its own adjuncts. That takes work. Besides, they are temporary workers anyhow, so why not get a temp agency to fill those jobs? Well, in Michigan, a few colleges did just that and outsourced their adjunct hiring to some staffing agency.  Hell, in one college, their faculty union signed onto the deal. You know you are not worth much as faculty when the faculty union, which won't likely take you, is willing to sign a deal to outsource their adjunct brethren's hiring. I guess as long as the "real" faculty do not get outsourced, it's all good. Thing is. . . first they came for the adjuncts, and they did not say anything because they were not adjuncts. Actually some full time faculty there expressed "concern." Story via Inside Higher Ed.
  • Finally, we get the outrageous example of a rich guy out of touch for the week. A well heeled provost decides to write about the hard choices he has to face. The hard choice? In his own words, "my wife and I gave our daughter a choice for her sixteenth birthday. If she wanted, she could have a party or we could go on a family cruise." It goes down hill from there as suddenly he decides to compare college to a cruise ship. I don't need to tell you how bad the out of touch privilege was here. Just read the comments. I usually do not advice that, but this time, many of them are worth it. So while adjuncts starve, as well as many of the college's service workers, the provost is so concerned with making sure his daughter has a nice rich time for her 16th birthday with either a big party or a cruise ship. Must be nice. Story via Inside Higher Ed.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Signs the Economy is Bad: July 18, 2014 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it.

Work has kept me busy, and life has tossed me a couple of nasty curve balls in the last couple of weeks, which is why I have not been here to blog the series. So, this week we have a few older items combined with some more recent ones. The news cycle may do its best to tell you that things are not so bad. I beg to differ, and here are this week's Signs the Economy is Bad. As always, comments (within reason) are welcome.

  • Let us start with a bit of analysis and discussion about the definitions of poverty, which we know are woefully out of date and inadequate. Stephen Pimpare looks at some U.S. Census data, and he discusses some patterns. Sure, "generational poverty [is] the exception, not the rule," but we still learn that poverty in the United States is a lot worse than people are willing to admit or consider. As Pimpare writes, "so poverty in the U.S. is, in fact, a much larger problem than we think it is, and it’s one that most Americans will face." Aside from the uber rich, odds are good many people out there may face at least a "small" spell of poverty at some point. This is something for certain folks to consider the next time they want to whine about those "deadbeat takers." As that old wise man once told me, "there but for (insert your deity of choice here), go I." Story via Talk Poverty. A hat tip to 
  • We can add to the story above with a report out of the U.S. Census Bureau that the number of people living in "poverty areas" is up. I guess the uber rich and the self-righteous can find more people to hate. 
  • So, how else does the nation punish the poor? Taking their kids away is certainly an option. And since working the poor takes work and costs money, farm out things like child welfare services to other nonprofits that may be less than scrupulous. Story via Truthout.
  • Then again, hating the poor is often a national pastime in the United States. Kim Redigan , writing for Common Dreams, asks, "Why Do We Hate the Poor?" For some reason, often in this nation, as long as someone is not affected it's pretty much who gives a hoot about the less fortunate. Whether it's Detroit and the water shut offs issue, which Redigan is discussing, or the homeless in our cities, or the recent spat of vitriol over unaccompanied children, many of which are refugees, at the southern border, Americans sure love to hate the poor and less fortunate. Heck, this is so popular a pastime that even public officials get in on demonizing the poor on the Internet with sock puppets. 
  • A common story in the bad economy is the Millennial adults having to live with their parents. Jobs are scarce, and finding, let alone, getting a good job can be quite the odyssey. The New Republic reports that "Yes, Millenials Actually Are Living in their Parents' Basements," and they bring in some numbers to prove it. They are not the only ones saying that. Pew Research makes similar findings available as they report on young adults driving a rise in multi-generational dwellings
  • As if new adults and millennials did not have it bad enough living with their elders, the colleges many of them graduated from have the gall to ask those graduates, poor and very likely unemployed, for donations to the college. I don't know about you, but given my alma maters really did not do that much for me, I am not feeling the mood to give them a penny. Not that I have a penny to give them anyhow. One college graduate decided to send a letter back to his alma mater to tell them what he thought of their fundraising. Found at Blue Nation Review.
  • In the bad economy, some folks do end up homeless. There are many reasons why people end up homeless, but very often they all make their way to one place: their local public library. According to the story, "moving beyond their old-fashioned image as book custodians where librarians shush people for talking too loud, libraries have evolved to serve as community centers, staffed with social workers and offering programs from meals to job counseling."Story via Reuters.
  • And speaking of libraries and programs that promote literacy, another good program has bitten the dust in the bad economy. Via Infodocket, a report that World Book Night suspended its U.S. operations due to lack of funding.
  • A place where they would have you believe that everything is fine is the fine state of Texas. The "Texas miracle" is something that people like their governor love to brag about. However, it's more illusion than actual substance. For instance, as detailed by The Texas Tribune, sure they managed to spark more jobs, but they did so at the expense of things like regulations for job safety. They lead in job fatalities, but hey, what's a few dead workers as long as the economy is moving along, right? So a fertilizer plant blows up because no one was inspecting it to make sure it was safe? Big deal. It's Texas; they do it bigger down there, including killing workers.
  • A place that is not doing so well is Latin America. No, the United States is not the only place with a bad economy. Apparently, things are specially bad for young people in Latin America as they face a spiral of unemployment and poverty, according to Truthout. For instance, according to the article, "according to a study by ECLAC and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), nearly one-third of young people in Latin America and the Caribbean live in poverty. . . . " 
  • Thinking about traveling? Personally, I avoid flying as much as possible. The increasing and constant hassles of the cattle cars in the sky are things to avoid. Apparently a few people think as I do since it seems they are making people decide to avoid commercial flight. According to the U.S. Travel Association, 38 million trips were avoided in 2013 (as in people chose not to fly), which cost the economy $35.7 billion. Since commercial flight is still alive and well, it seems not enough people are avoiding flights just yet. Given the way they treat people, if a few airlines go broke and take a few ancillary services with it, so much the better. Maybe they will get the message then.
And it has been a fairly good couple of weeks or so for the uber rich:

  • For one, according to a new study, the American uber rich are more obscenely rich than previously thought. I would not care less, except for those pesky details of income inequality and even more obscene poverty, often caused by the uber rich's exploitation. Story via AlterNet
  • Now, some people complain this whole income gap and wealth inequality stuff is complicated. That it is hard to understand. So, to help those people I have found an explanation that even the most unsophisticated person can probably understand, courtesy of John Oliver. (Link to YouTube video). 
  • Now, some may say I am being mean calling the uber rich exploitative. Well, don't take my word for it. It turns out that extreme wealth can and does breed narcissism to the point where a they get richer, they feel more entitled to lie, cheat, so on. Story via The Guardian.
  • And to rub salt on the wound, they get more attention on television too. Poverty is barely mentioned in newscasts. Story via AlterNet.
  • Finally, what I am labeling the most ridiculous sign the economy is bad:  you need $60,000 to make a potato salad. Yes, some guy decided he was craving potato salad, but he did not know how to make one. So, instead maybe asking his granny or looking up a recipe on the Internet, he gets one of the Kickstarter things going to raise money for his salad. He got $60K for his potato salad. No shit, really. However, it turns out you can make a potato salad for a lot less, as demonstrated by the author at Poor as Folk. As the author writes I also say that I am not sure who to be irritated at here: the fuckbagel who begged for the money, or the asswaffles with money to burn who actually gave it to him. So many worthy causes, and this is what they give money to? Ridiculous indeed.

Booknote: Corpse on the Imjin

Harvey Kurtzman, Corpse on the Imjin and Other Stories. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books, 2012. ISBN: 9781606995457.

This book collects war stories from EC Comics by Harvey Kurtzman.  The book is part of Fantagraphics EC Comics Library series. The strength of Kurtzman's comics lies in the portrayal of war. Most American (U.S.) war comics depict the big, handsome American soldier being heroic as he mows down a bunch of enemies. Kurtzman instead chose to portray war as it was, without glamour, and often presenting the enemy as humane. For example, in "Dying City," we get the story of a young Korean man who leaves his family to join the North Korean army. He is blinded in combat, but it turns out he was also blind to other truths long before he went off to war.

The book collects 24 stories. All scripts are by Kurtzman, and he also did the art on eleven of the stories. For other stories, he called on greats like Alex Toth and Joe Kubert among others. Kurtzman and his team paid much attention to detail, and they did research to get their military details correct. It shows in the comics. The art is also excellent in depicting the horror and tragedy of war; see the title story, "Corpse on the Imjin" for an example. The comics also depict the routine moments of a war zone. I would say that if more people read these comics they would not be jingoistically celebrating war. The comics collection covers conflicts from the Revolutionary War to the Korean Conflict, from big figures like John Paul Jones to soldiers in trenches and jet pilots.

Like other volumes in this Fantagraphics series, this one has various extras. Various essays discuss Kurtzman's work. There is an interview with Kurtzman, and there is also a very nice full color gallery of Kurtzman covers from Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, the main EC Comics titles where his work was featured.

Public libraries will definitely want to add this to their collections. Academic libraries with interests in pop culture and/or recreational reading collections may want to add this one as well, especially if they have added others in the series. Fans of vintage comics may want to consider adding this to their collections. Though I borrowed it from my local public library, this is one I would consider adding to my personal library as well as the others.

If you ask me, 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Booknote: Nightwing, Volume 4: Second City

Kyle Higgins, Nightwing, Volume 4: Second City. New York: DC Comics, 2014. ISBN: 9781401246303.

This is part of DC's The New 52 series, and it comes right after the events of Death of the Family. Dick Grayson, a.k.a. as Nightwing, has a lead on the man who killed his parents, and that lead takes him to Chicago. Chicago now has a very clear and aggressive policy against masked vigilantes, so Dick will need to be extra careful. To complicate matters, a villain known as The Prankster is terrorizing the city. Prankster is also someone that Nightwing may have to work with in order to solve the case.

This was a good story with a fast pace. After the dark intensity of Death of the Family, this makes for a good change of pace. Kyle Higgins gives us a solid story where Nightwing strives to catch the man who killed his parents and get some justice. The hero also has to save a city that is not his own. The tale has some good twists and surprises to keep readers interested.

This was one that I really liked, so I am giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars. It certainly makes me want to try out the next one.

This is one the public libraries will want to get for their collections, especially if they are already collecting DC titles, specifically ones in The New 52 series. For academic libraries with graphic novel collections and/or recreational reading, this could make a good addition. I am very likely to order it for our library. 

isclosure: The mandatory stuff I have to type to tell you that I read this as an e-book review copy via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. You know, so The Man is satisfied everything is kosher. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Booknote: Complete Peanuts: 1959-1960 and Complete Peanuts: 1961-1962

Charles M. Schultz, The Complete Peanuts: 1959-1960. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics, 2006. 

Charles M. Schultz, The Complete Peanuts: 1961-1962. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics, 2006.

I continue reading this series published by Fantagraphics as I manage to get my hands on it. In the 1959-1960 volume contains the now famous strip of "Happiness is a warm puppy." We also see Charlie Brown's sister, Sally. In the 1961-1962 volume, Schultz introduces a new character: the very vain Frieda, along with her cat Falon. Also in this volume, Sally continues to grow, and Snoopy gets a bird family who sort of become tenants in his doghouse. The parts with Snoopy and the birds were kind of cute.

One thing that caught my eye, and it seemed more prominent in the 1959-1960 volume is the amount of verbal bullying Charlie Brown gets. Lucy, who also bullies her brother Linus quite a bit, and the other neighborhood girls are clearly prototypes of the mean girl characters that, for reasons I can't fathom, many people seem to like and make popular. In reading these books, there were moments were I just cringed at the amount of cruelty those girls can dish out. As much as I like Peanuts, this was a very negative and dark element indeed. Ray Bradbury, quoted in the 1959-1960 back book cover, called Peanuts "the finest comic in the world." The negative elements in the strip seem to take a lot of the luster away. Now, I know plenty of folks will say, "it's just kids being kids," to which I will say that's part of the problem: parents who basically enable the bad behavior by abdicating their responsibility. Children's world may not be idea, but abuse is simply not acceptable.

Overall, the series does have some nice, warm, and amusing moments. The second volume in this set was better. It is, as a whole, interesting to see how Schultz's art and characters evolve over time. In terms of book quality and value, Fantagraphics continues to do good work, and I'd say these are good editions for fans. This is series is definitely one public libraries, and academic librarians with pop culture or recreational reading collections, need to have.

I'd give the 1959-1960 volume 3 stars.
4 stars for the 1961-1962 volume.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Booknote: Codename: Action, Volume 1

Chris Roberson and Jonathan Lau, Codename: Action, Volume 1. Mount Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Comics, 2014. ISBN: 9781606904763.

This was a fun and easy to read romp of a comic book. Agent 1001 is the latest agent in the American intelligence community. He may also be the last one due to the agency getting consolidated with an international force. But for now, it falls to him, with the aide of his veteran mentor, to save the world during the Cold War era. The book also features some old time masked superheroes, like the Green Hornet and Kato, who will eventually join with our protagonist. However, for now, the other heroes do appear very briefly. This is clearly a volume to set up an ongoing series.

If you enjoy the old school James Bond films with its gadgets, hot women, and villains all out to rule the world, then this is a book for you. It has the super agent. It has the gadgets, including a submersible car. It has the hot women, in this case a group of French intelligence agents (by the way, why is often the "hot" women in these stories have to be French? haha!). And we have the villain trying to start World War III with a pair of nuclear missiles. It has all that old school adventure goodness packed in with some nice art to boot. This is a volume with great action, a fast pace, a great villain, and fun ride. I really liked this quick read.

The volume includes a gallery of cover art, including some alternative covers. It is a fun read that I think many public libraries will probably want to have in their graphic novel collections.

I am giving it 4 out 5 stars.

Disclosure: The mandatory stuff I have to type to tell you that I read this as an e-book review copy via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. You know, so The Man is satisfied everything is kosher. 

Friday, July 04, 2014

Booknote: Thirteen at Dinner

Agatha Christie, Thirteen at Dinner. (WorldCat link. There are various editions of this and other Christie works, so find the one you like)

This one took me a bit longer to read, and I will admit that the path to the solution was a bit complex for me. That did give me an appreciation of Dame Christie's craft. Lord Edgware is murdered. His wife, actress Jane Wilkinson, who was asking Hercule Poirot for help in divorcing him and/or getting rid of him, is naturally a suspect. However, another actress known for her celebrity impersonations is charged with the crime. There is even a witness that identifies her. However, this may not be a simple case, and it falls to Poirot to find the truth.

For me, part of the appeal of reading Agatha Christie is in the setting of the novels. I find small details such as letter writing to be fascinating. There is a charm to Poirot's pre-World War II era that is not there in modern mysteries. In addition, Christie falls in the cozy mystery category, which means no blood or gore. So, the attention to the mystery really falls on the mystery itself and the details. Overall, this was a nice light read, and I'd give it four out of five stars if you ask.

On a side note, I picked this up earlier because of the library's summer reading program. One of the options from the public library for the adult program was to read a mystery. Since I had read Christie before, and I do like Poirot, I picked up this one.