Alpe d’Huez and the Seven Deadly Sins

My latest piece of reading has been related to the Tour de France.  I spotted this book at the library as it was on the new books shelf. Seven Deadly SinsIn light of the recent revelations about doping in cycling I thought it would make an interesting read.  It is ironic that as I finished reading this book, Stuart O’Grady, the Australian cyclist, admitted that he had used drugs in 1998.  Only once apparently!  It has now reached the stage with doping that we no longer know who is riding clean.  After reading this book I get the impression that the people in charge of the Tour de France were keen to keep hidden the fact that they knew doping was taking place among many of the riders in the Tour.  Image is everything in the commercial world and they obviously thought it would not have looked good if they said that they had found in their drug testing that a large percentage of the riders were taking drugs.

This book is the result of one man’s quest to get to the bottom of drug taking in cycling.  David Walsh is a sports journalist for the Times and has written on many sports during his career.

From the cover:

When Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France in 1999, there was a huge surge of support for him.  Here was a great story: in the aftermath of the doping controversies of the previous Tour, which Armstrong had missed after his battle with life-threatening cancer, this was the perfect end to what organisers had dubbed the Tour of Renewal.

But not everyone was convinced.  Journalist David Walsh was among a small group who felt that something was wrong.  Despite predictions that the race would be slower now that it was “clean” of drugs, Armstrong in fact rode faster than his predecessors.  How was this possible?  As former Tour champion Greg LeMond said subsequently:”If Lance is clean, it is the greatest comeback in the history of sport.  If he isn’t, it would be the greatest fraud.”

In his quest for the truth, Walsh was accused by Armstrong of lacking ethics and was dubbed a “troll” as he took on a foe who could always boast that his record showed how he tested clean.  As Armstrong once said: “I can get up every morning and look at myself in the mirror and my family can look at me too.  That’s all that matters.”

Walsh’s search took him around the world as he found a mounting pile of evidence that showed Armstrong was lying, and in the autumn of 2012 he was vindicated when the American was stripped of his Tour titles and found his reputation in tatters.  For Armstrong, his seven Tour victories proved to be his seven deadly sins.

This was an enlightening book that taught me a great deal.  I will be looking at 2014 Tour de France with different eyes.

If you take a look at this infographic about the infamous climb of Alpe d’Huez you will see that the top ten fastest climbs are all by riders who doped!  That says it all.  It would be interesting to see the top ten times of ‘clean’ riders.


Some retirement reading!

toe tag quintetI heard about this book on the ABC radio programme, Books and Arts Daily. You can download the audio of the interview at the website.  I found the book at the Metung Book Fair for just a couple of dollars.  Bargain!

The adventures of a former Sydney detective from 21 Division who, in his prime, collared some of the most murderous criminals in Australian history yet, on retiring to the Gold Coast in Queensland, along with half of the criminal milieu he once pursued, is shot, king-hit, tortured, and thrown from buildings in his relentless pursuit of justice.

With his trademark wit, warmth and humour, Matthew Condon takes us on a crazy ride – in boats, kombis, peugeots and window-washing platforms – through art galleries, libraries, swampy islands and caravan parks to illustrate that we are never too old for adventures.

I have just finished the first of these short stories and enjoyed it. Quite quirky in the story telling, with lots of humour, a good light read. Ideal for when you just want to dip into a book for a short read.


This is my next R book in the A-Z Book Challenge.Bombproof

Sami Macbeth is not a master criminal. He’s not even a minor one. He’s not a jewel thief. He’s not a safe-cracker. He’s not an expert in explosives. Sami plays guitar and wants to be a rock god but keeps getting side-tracked by unforeseen circumstances.

Fifty-four hours ago Sami was released from prison. Thirty-six hours ago he slept with the woman of his dreams at the Savoy. An hour ago his train blew up. Now he’s carrying a rucksack through London’s West End and has turned himself into the most wanted terrorist in the country.

Sami Macbeth – the man with the uncanny ability to turn a desperate situation into a hopeless one.

Fast, funny, hip and violent, Bombproof is a non-stop adventure full of unforgettable characters and a heart-warming hero.

I bought this one at the Book Fair at Patterson Park in Metung. I think it cost $1.  It proved to be $1 well spent.  The book was an exciting read as it grabbed me right at the start and I finished it very quickly. Bombproof, by Michael Robotham, was published not long after the Tube bombings in London.
The protagonist, although he has been in prison, seems a likeable man.  I kept wondering what was the next disaster that was going to happen to him as he just seems to keep getting deeper and deeper into trouble.  I liked the fact that there was humour in the novel even though it was a suspenseful read.  This story is well worth the read.

Q is for Quarry

I have found a Q book for the A-Z Book Challenge. It wasn’t until I got to the end of the book that I realised I had read the book previously, probably in 2003 shortly after the book was published.QuarrySue Grafton started her A-Z crime series, featuring the female detective Kinsey Millhone in 1982 with the first novel A is for Alibi. I know I read several of the books at the beginning of the series but I didn’t think I had read as far as the letter Q, obviously I did as I found I had read this one.

Ten years ago is a long time in the reading world so it didn’t do me any harm to discover I had read it previously. I enjoyed the book as if it was a first time read.

She was a Jane Doe, an unidentified white female whose decomposed body was discovered near a quarry off California’s Highway 1. The case fell to the Santa Teresa County Sheriff’s Department, but the detectives had little to go on. The woman was young, her hands were bound with a length of wire, there were multiple stab woulds , and her thoat had been slashed. After months of investigation, the murder remained unsolved.

That was eighteen years ago. Now the two men who found the body, both nearing the end of long careers in law enforcement, want one last shot at the case . . . . and they turn to Kinsey Millhone to help them find closure. Kinsey is intrigued and agrees to the job.

But revisiting the past can be a dangerous business and what begins with the pursuit of Jane Doe’s real identity ends in a high-risk hunt for her killer.

Overall, another great crime fiction novel from Sue Grafton but I do wish she would resolve her family issues which have been ongoing since A is for Alibi.

Do you remember the A-Z Book Challenge?

Well, I have finally found a book with an author for the letter Q in my A-Z Book Challenge.  I know that it is well past the year in which I was doing the challenge but I plan to finish the alphabet.  Better late than never.  There may be some discussion as to whether this is a Q author or perhaps an X author.  I am going by where I found it in the library and it was shelved under the letter Q.

bookAnother crime fiction book.  You will have gathered by now that my favourite genre is crime fiction.

This crime fiction novel was a little different in that there were frequent pieces of poetry interspersed in the story.  Chen, the protagonist,  is a poet as well as an investigator and translator and he quotes poets from the past. The cities referred to in the title are Shanghai and Los Angeles.

This detective story is different to my usual in that it is set in modern China but gives insight into the culture of ancient China as well as modern.  There is also a great deal of description of the food of the country and at times my mouth was watering with the descriptions of the food being served.

From the book jacket:

Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau is summoned by an official of the Party to lead a highly charged corruption investigation.  The tentacles have spread through the police force, the civil service, the vice trade and deep into the criminal underworld.

The principal figure and his family have long since fled to the United States , beyond the reach of the Chinese government.  But the network is still intact and it is only a matter of time before it becomes stronger than before.  Chen is charged – and it is a job he cannot refuse – with uncovering those responsible , and destroying the organisation from the top down to its roots.

In a twisting case that reunites him with his counterpart from the US Marshals service – Inspector Catherine Rohn – Chen must find a measure of justice in a corrupt, expedient world.

This is the fourth in the critically acclaimed Inspector Chen series set in contemporary China.

I seem to have had the habit lately of reading books that are in the latter part of a series without having read the initial books.  It certainly didn’t detract from the reading of this novel.  I enjoyed it.

P for Peaches, another in the A-Z Book Challenge

My reading has slowed in recent months and so I am only at the letter P in the A-Z Book Challenge that was meant to take me a year. I will need to be more diligent in my next Challenge. If I take on another Reading Challenge I will still keep going with the A-Z just so I can finish the alphabet.

Peaches for Monsieur le Care

Peaches for Monsieur le Curé by Joanne Harris is the most recent of my challenge books.

I have read many Joanne Harris books and I can honestly say I have enjoyed each and every one. The Blue Eyed Boy was probably the most confronting of her novels and Peaches for Monsieur le Curé is a totally different type of read.

The book is a continuation of the story from two of her earlier novels, Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes. Many people would be aware of the movie Chocolat, starring Johnny Depp.


This novel doesn’t require that you have read the previous two books as it can be read on its own.

From the book jacket:

When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she has no choice but to follow the wind that blows her back to Lansquenet, the village in south-west France where, eight years ago, she opened up a chocolate shop.

But Vianne is completely unprepared for what she finds there. Women veiled in black, the scent of spices and peppermint tea, and there, on the bank of the river Tannes, facing the square little tower of the church of Saint-Jérôme like a piece on a chess board – slender, bone-white and crowned with a silver crescent moon – a minaret.

Nor is it only the incomers from North Africa who have brought big changes to the community. Father Reynaud, Vianne’s erstwhile adversary, is now disgraced and under threat. Could it be that Vianne is the only one who can save him?

After reading this novel I will admit that I would like Joanne Harris to write another novel with the same protagonists.

Joanne Harris comments on her novel here.