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Breaking Points by Tammy Kaehler

Breaking Points” is the second in the Kate Reilly Racing Mystery series about a woman Le Mans class race driver trying to make it in a decidedly man’s sport.

The action starts at the Road America track in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, moves on to Road Atlanta in Braselton, GA where the reader gets a pit-side and even driver-side account of racing at two exciting venues on the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) tour.  As one might expect, the action is fast-paced and it offers no special dispensations for the women on the tour.  The reader gets a realistic look at the daily life of a race car driver, including the work to entertain and promote the products of sponsors, attending charity events, handling the fans both online and at the track, practicing and qualifying for races, and, of course, the race day action. The plot explores the question about whether women are tough enough and competent enough drivers to compete as race car drivers.  An accident that is partly caused by Kate in the Elkhart Lake race brings criticism from many in the racing community to Kate.  Through smart, managed PR and the support of her team and competitors, she weathers the storm and goes on to help her team win a high ranking for the year overall.

Through it all, Kate helps the police in Elkhart and in Georgia determine who poisoned one of Kate’s best friends, and who then also knocks off a misogynistic sports reporter Kate initially suspects as her friend’s killer.  Was the poison initially meant for Kate? Did the real killer murder the male chauvinist reporter to frame Kate? She does receive some initial attention from the cops as a possible suspect, but she quickly redeems herself by helping to uncover the real killer, or killers– and nearly gets knocked off herself a couple of times.

Breaking Points” is fast-paced, entertaining, and descriptive.  Kate Reilly is a complex and very likeable character who shows her character flaws as well as her strengths and talent, and learns by her mistakes.

Liz Nichols

(Reviewed from a supplied copy. Published in April 2013.)


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Dead Man’s Switch by Tammy Kaehler

Dead Man’s Switch” is the first in a new “Kate Reilly Racing Mystery.” The book was published Aug. 2 by Poisoned Pen Press as is a good example of the well designed and edited books that this publishing house puts out. I received a review copy to read just prior to the publication date.

Kate Reilly is a wanna-be American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race car driver who follows the teams around to every race in hopes that she will get a ride.  She got a taste of being a team member the previous season when a third driver was needed for one of the longer races and she acquitted herself well.  Everyone knows Kate can drive and is a quick study, but in this male-dominated sport, few expect that Kate will actually get a permanent ride.

When Kate finds experienced but unlikeable  racer, Wade Becker,  dead on the track as she about to do a practice run, the police first need to rule Kate out as a suspect.  She is subjected to suspicion from other drivers and their groupies long after the police rule her out as a suspect, especially when she is selected as Wade’s replacement.

As often happens in well written mysteries, there are so many possible suspects that it is difficult to crack the case any earlier than Kate does.  She has a second case to crack and she’s a little faster at solving that one: the onboard computer systems are being tampered with on some teams’ cars.  Is this related to Wade’s death?  Has Wade been blackmailing certain drivers, and is that a reason for his untimely death?

There is a lot of racing detail.  Those who like to watch Le Mans style road racing will look at this book like an insider’s manual to the sport.  Those who have no interest in racing may still appreciate this book because of its strong and interesting protagonist, Kate Reilly.  Picture Danika Patrick in a Corvette and you get the picture!

For me, there was maybe a bit more racing detail than I needed to read, but then I found Kate a really interesting character and one that will be fun to follow in future entries into this series.

The author, Tammy Kaehler, is a technical writer who had an opportunity to work in the world of racing corporate hospitality and obviously absorbed a great deal of the aura of racing, the personalities that are stereotypical of the people who work in that field, and the routines that teams go through to get ready for a race.  Kaehler does a great job of bringing her technical knowledge in to the creative world of mystery writing.  Job well done!

Liz Nichols

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