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Recently I have read Lantern Rouge & Broken Homes

By  CJ Boom     13:52     

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch was given to me at Xmas. The jacket explains that a series of mysterious murders have taken place in Crawley & Bromley. A town planner who is looking after the Elephant & Castle estate randomly jumps infront of a tube train & the now deceased architect who designed the estate has had his home/museum burgled but nothing appears to be stolen.
It sounds like an all action story centering on the housing estate in Elephant that in recent years I've been slightly obsessed with. 
In real life The Heygate (to provide the name of the for mentioned estate) is currently being pulled down it's a ugly concrete behemoth, which in some people opinion is has a poor design with too many hidden staircases, lonely walkways & places to hide out of sight.  It drew my attention about 18 months ago because over the last four years Southwark has slowly been emptying the estate & moving residents on through compulsory purchase orders, some residents refused to leave and until October last year (even though Southwark has shut of the heating systems, public walkway lighting). There were 3 residents living in dwellings within one of the 3, 10 storey blocks. I cycled past the estate on a few occasions and it almost looked as though an apocalypse had hit a pocket of SE1. 

So, back to the book... Broken Homes follows a similar storyline about the estate being pulled down but hinting the reasoning is more sinister than purely commercial/regeneration driven by the council. 

All started well but into the 3rd chapter & suddenly the detectives narrating the story start to talk about magic & use Harry Potter style language it soon becomes clear that I'm reading a book with a confusing wizard/witch/elf magical element. It flowed well but the added confusing magical words just killed it. The book (like this blog) was riddled with grammar errors, a few phrases with past tense when present would be better, this let the fast moving story line down.  

The book ended in dramatic fashion & a few loose ends were cleared up but mostly I was left baffled. The guy that threw himself under the tube - why did he do that, what was his overall purpose? Why did the house get burgled? 
I have since realised that the book is part of a series so maybe it'll be answered in the next instalment. 

Lanterne Rouge by Max Leonard. 
Initially I wasn't too concerned about reading another book about cycling, I've had a few recently that were biographies and just weren't that compelling so a book that I thought was about people who come last wasn't that of a draw for me.
But I bumped in Max & he gave me the book & even yielded to my request for him to sign it. Since Max had gone to the trouble of giving me the book I decided I should read it. 

As soon as I started the book I couldn't put it down, told in first person it's a story of Max's discovery of the Lanterne Rouge. He briefly discusses why unlike other sports the last placed person is celebrated, in Formula 1 last place on the grid is generally considered to have a bad car, the last team in a football league is penalised and sent to the league below. 

It is a phenomenon that makes cycling so fascinating and what this book is definitely NOT is a book about losers. 

It's deeply researched and I really enjoyed Max's personal journey as he made his research and delivers some myth busting anecdotes, the story of Philippe Gaumont is particularly interesting (I won't say too much more). 

I've heard/read many stories from Tour de France and after a while they lose their impact and become just stale tales. 
It is a breath of fresh air to read about a different part of the peloton. 
When the Tour rolls through this season I think I'll find myself scrolling to the bottom of the Cycling News results page to see who is occupying the Lanterne Rouge placing. 


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