Book: David Millar “Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar”

March 24, 2017

I’m a fan of cycling – it’s the only sport I follow.   However I wasn’t really following it that closely in the days when David Millar was at his prime.  I do know him as a pundit and commentator and when I discovered that his background as a cyclist included being caught for doping, serving a ban then coming back to cycle ‘clean’.  So I decided to read his autobiography.

I’m not however a great fan of autobiographies as a style and struggled to read this taking at least six months on and off to get through it.  This was also partially because I have it as a paperback and tend to read mostly on a phone app now, so I’ve lost the habit of picking up a physical book.

OK so what about the book – it was interesting.  David Millar’s childhood, interest in cycling, etc. was alright but really this book is about the insight into the growing awareness of a naive young cyclist to the fact that doping is happening all around him and the gradual feeling that the only way he can compete with doppers is to join them and the final submission to this temptation.  Framed around his arrest and various legal battles the rise and fall and rise of David Millar is a good read.

David explains very well the isolation of a cyclist even in a team situation and how that personal drive to improve can, when the situation allows it, lead to overwhelming temptation.  In those days of cycling drugs seem to have been so easily obtained and used that it really was widespread.  David’s insight into the situation seem to have been of some use to the fight against drugs in sport in the years since he has served his ban.

Book: Lee Child “Make Me”

March 16, 2017

This is the 20th Jack Reacher novel and it has been a while since I’ve last read one of my favourite fictional characters.  The book opens in classic Reacher style with him getting off a train in a lonely outpost of “Mother’s Rest” for no real reason but just to find out why the place was named that.  He is the only person to get off the train in this place as there isn’t much to see.  However there is someone who is waiting to meet the train, Chang – a female, ex-FBI private detective.

Chang is in Mother’s Rest because her colleague has gone missing and was last known to be here.  Reacher checks into a motel and wonders around looking for the origin of why Mother’s Rest is called that – ready to get back on the train whether he finds out or not.  But Chang seeks his help and Reacher has noticed that many of the towns people have been watching him.

The whole story is simply classic Lee Child with gradual unfolding plot with lots of surprises.  It’s great to get back to this character again when you feel that you know his quirks and style.

Book: Nelson DeMille “Plumb Island”

March 16, 2017

Over the past couple of years I have changed the way I read in two ways.  I almost exclusively read books on my phone rather than physical books and I like working my way through series or the full output of a single author.  So from August to February I’ve just finished all 20 novels by Robert Crais and prior to that I was reading Michael Connelly.  Catching up with an established author’s current work means needing to find a new author – which led me to this first novel by Nelson DeMille “Plumb Island” first published in 1997.

The first thing to say is that I can understand why a couple of web sites would say “if you like Crais and Connelly you will enjoy DeMille”, for example,  the main protagonist, John Corey is a likeable, fast talking, sarcastic, lateral thinker who sees patterns before anyone else can.  However, the pace was far too slow for me and on a few occasions I nearly gave up on this book.  

What I mean by that is when you find yourself reading about the details of every minute that passes, such as when the journey from place to place is detailed even though this adds nothing to the overall story, or we are introduced to the backstory of a character who then plays no further part int he story.  I also thought that there were too many repetition and rehearsal of John Corey’s main theory to solve the murders, almost as if we keep needing reminded of where we are in the story.

Anyway, to the story, John Corey is a NYPD homicide detective who has been shot and is convalescing at his Uncle’s holiday home on Long Island, NY. The local Chief, Max asks John to be a consultant in a double homicide. The victims turn out to be friends of John who worked at the Plum Island Research Facility studying animal diseases, viruses and flu’s. Which immediately suggests that terrorism and biological warfare may be the motive for the murders.

As mentioned I found it very slow, but still an interesting investigation with lots of twists in the plot and I will try at least one more John Corey novel.