This might have been a straightforward account of the effects of methamphetamine on the small town of Oelwein, Iowa. Instead, it comes off as an overly ambitious and unfocused sociologically-based overview. There are problems with the way this true story is narrated.
First, the book reads like a series of articles written for different publications. Thus, there is a lot of repetition about particular persons and events, as if no prior content existed. There are a number of human interest stories, some of which are far removed from the topic at hand. And, Reding seems to get so caught up on using law enforcement terms – like DTOs (drug trafficking organizations) and SACs (special agents in charge) – that the reader begins to wonder when he audited a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) class in Quantico.
Furthermore, there’s far too much time spent on detailing the international drug trade; a macro story when the reader’s been promised a micro detailing of the impacts of drug abuse on a small farming community. At one point, the author references a 60 Minutes piece, and this book clearly reads as such – a lot of moving camera angles, but without a lot of real content or questions answered.
In picking up this book about a community with a population of just over 6,000 residents, I thought I would experience the feeling of an extended stay with the people who live there. Sadly, it read like a fly-over.
Bloomsbury USA, $25.00, 255 pages
Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.