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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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