New and popular titles at Juniata County Library

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“Our 50-State Border Crisis: How the Mexican Border Fuels the Drug Epidemic Across America” by Howard G. Buffett

It is telling that this book on the examination of border policy and the drug trade comes with two forewords, one by Cindy McCain (wife of John), a conservative Arizonan, and the other by U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a comparatively liberal North Dakotan. Howard Buffett, son of Warren, sees the drug epidemic served by cartels from south of the border as a nonpartisan issue. In any event, his argument is not dogmatic, and it refreshingly lacks the knee-jerk xenophobia that all too easily permeates this topic. The author calls for a carefully, professionally, and nationally policed border. As he writes, “patrolling our borders effectively today … demands a combination of law enforcement, intelligence gathering, and foreign adversary engagement skills and tactics beyond basic law enforcement.” Interestingly, Buffett also recognizes the economic and political forces that are driving the drug trade in Mexico, for which he suggests a multipronged aid approach that includes American help in breaking up the Central American gangs that seem to be the chief source of supply for young, violence-prone foot soldiers. In all this, he urges honest and genuine diplomacy. “Insulting, bullying, or belittling Mexico will never help us improve border security,” he writes. “To help Mexico change for the better, we need to change as well.” The author doesn’t quite hit hard enough on a couple of matters–namely, that there wouldn’t be a cartel-driven drug market without domestic demand and that big pharma is a cartel all its own, with imported heroin serving as a substitute for most addicts when prescribed opioids aren’t available. All told, this is a levelheaded and even book on a crucial topic facing America. You can find this book in the New Adult Nonfiction section.

“The Brass Verdict: a Novel” by Michael Connelly

The second in the Lincoln Lawyer series, “The Brass Verdict” focuses on Mickey Haller a year after his blockbuster legal case that garnered him fame and a near death experience. As he is recuperating from his injuries, Haller is notified that a legal colleague of his, Jerry Vincent, was murdered and stated in his will that upon his death all of his current cases and clients are to be transferred to him. So much for a slow transition back to work, right?

Haller has a strong work ethic and loves the game of legal gymnastics that involves clients, prosecutors, the media, the police, and basking in the idea that everyone hates him (a defense lawyer).

The main case Haller must immediately take on is a double-murder where all signs point towards a prominent and famous movie producer, Walter Elliot, as the killer. The problem is Elliot is often aloof and uninterested in the case, convinced that he will be found not guilty. What does Elliot know that Haller doesn’t that makes him so unconcerned with the progress of the case? Connelly brings in Harry Bosch, from his other series of novels, to investigate the murder of Vincent. The egos of Haller and Bosch battle each other to keep the perceived upper hand and maintain the integrity of their cases.

I found the ending to be rather farfetched and the trial to drag on, but after reading nearly all of Connelly’s books, I was even surprised to see how the mystery unfolded. You can find this book in the Adult Fiction section.

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Vince Giordano has been the director of the Juniata County Library since 2015.

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