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Book Review: The Tour Sequel to The Race
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 3/22/2006
Book Review: The Tour Sequel to The Race

Book Review: "The Tour" A Tour de France Novel
The Tour cycling novel. A Review of Dave Shields Sequel to best selling novel The Race.

Publisher: Three Story Press
228 pages
I met Dave Shields at Interbike in 2003, when he was seeking a publisher for his first novel with a cycling theme, using le Tour de France as the setting. Dave sent me a copy of the book to read pre-publication, after reading the novel I sent Dave an e-mail and later quoted it in the book review:

"As usual after a great book, finishing it is like saying good bye to a good friend, all the while wishing you could stay a little longer; and already looking forward to your next visit.
As a writer the story was very "real" - I mean this as the highest compliment. From the story line to the buildup of the characters, the scenery and locations, it put me there. I think this is the greatest coup for a writer to build a reality for the reader to carry the writer’s vision to the heart of the reader.
The novel is like cycling, a metaphor for life; the story is not just about the race, it is about life and finding the key to overcome self doubt and uncertainty.  At every turn it entertained, enlightened and inspired."

The Race was a resounding success as a best seller, it quickly became an featured book, and went on to win Shields the prestigious Ben Franklin award for "Best New Voice in Fiction." More than that it won over new fans to cycling becoming a cross over hit with a non cycling audience that gave them an insight into the world of Pro cycling by an avid fan and cyclist.

The hardest task for Hollywood or a writer is to follow up a successful movie or book with one as good or better. Shield's doesn't falter at the task, The Tour picks up where the last novel left off, continuing the story of young Ben Barnes. The new novel is as fast paced as his first; it had me reading the book long into the night. I could only describe it as a "page burner" to a fellow cyclist.

So once again I have to caution the reader, clear your calendar when you start to read this book, because you won't want to put it down until you finish the novel.

The Tour reads like David's first cycling novel, it is a well written commentary much like a real race, with real competitors, with vivid descriptions of the characters, action and scenery of France; you are transported by the words to a world that you can almost smell, taste and feel the action.

If that were all it did, Shields would have hit his mark to write as gripping and exciting a sequel as the original.

It isn't, Shields takes it a step beyond his first cycling novel confronting the current curse of professional sports, performance enhancing drugs.  His character, young Ben Barnes introduced in the first novel, now at his most vulnerable moment as a pro rider, in the midst of achieving his breakout performance now faces the temptation to use drugs in his effort to attain his life long goal of winning le Tour.

The novel explores this dark side of professional sports at a dynamic level from a multitude of views, steeped in the reality of what decisions and pressures a pro rider faces.  It shows the depth of research that was done in writing the tale, with off the record interviews of pro riders. It is a look, albeit a fictional look based on fact, into the grim reality riders face to produce results to continue their careers, and the choices and pressures they face.

Here it again hits the mark, as the plot takes twists and turns in a taut tale that reads like a thriller; our hero Ben Barnes, must face numerous tests of his integrity as he struggles to toward his goal of winning the tour. Will he abandon his moral underpinnings and sacrifice his integrity to win? In this sense the book rises to the universal question each of us face in our own lives; the message and story are timeless.

The novel will make you think, and draw you into the debate about what must be done to clean up all sports from the influence of doping and cheating.

Like an excellent meal The Tour left me satisfied. Then much like after a good meal, one desires a desert; shortly, I began to wonder if Ben Barnes would be back to race the Giro d' Italia next year. I hope so, because I can’t wait to read more of his adventures. I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy. Just make sure to clear your calendar before it arrives. 

The Book scores on my own scale as a "Must Read" if you love cycling and enjoy a fast paced novel, you won't be disappointed.
More importantly, the book is written in a style that will engage the interest and acquaint a non-cycling fan introducing him and helping him understand bike racing.  It may be the inspiration for another young man or woman, like Ben Barnes who will dream the dream many of us have had, to ride and race at the highest levels.  The Book is complete with accurate stage profiles of the fictional stages.

Through special arrangements with the Publisher "The Tour" is available for delivery before its store release to the readers of the Daily Peloton. Included is a special offer if you purchase any three of Dave's novels you get a fourth book for free.
To purchase follow the link on the graphic below.

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The Race - A Tour de France Novel
Interview with Dave Shields author of The Race
The Tour: A Book Review by Marty Jemison
The Tour, Tour de France Novel - Author Interview

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