Kiss the Bricks

I really can’t recommend enough the remarkable series of mysteries written by Tammy Kaehler about professional racecar driver Kate Reilly. The series has now hit its fifth title, KISS THE BRICKS, and while each book has its highlights, the entirety of the series is just solid, well-rounded entertainment.

Kaehler knows auto racing and describes on-the-track action extremely well. She’s also adept at character development and a reader soon comes to adore and respect the strength of her main character. Reilly is a strong woman, but also cognizant of her weaknesses and the general fickleness of success in the racing world, giving her a believability that outweighs the general oddness of having a touring racing driver solve murder cases.

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Red Flags

Tammy Kaehler’s mystery series features racecar driver Kate Reilly, an up-and-coming hotshot who plies her trade in the fictional Sports Car Championship (SCC), but she’s looking to move up into IndyCar and even a potential start in the Indy 500. In Kaehler’s fourth book, RED FLAGS, Reilly comes with her SCC team to the Long Beach Grand Prix, one of IndyCar’s premier events that will feature the SCC race as a support race.

For those who are not attuned, Long Beach, California has been host to both Formula One and IndyCar races since 1976. It’s a beautiful, difficult, technical course run directly on the streets of the city along the waterfront. It’s a glorious track that encourages brilliant racing and with its southern Californian locale and usually great weather, the race weekend becomes more of a spectacular event than a single race.

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Avoidable Contact

avoidablecontactKate Reilly is back in AVOIDABLE CONTACT, her third thrilling adventure featuring auto racing and murder written by Tammy Kaehler. The author started this series with DEAD MAN’S SWITCH, and while intriguing, it was unpolished, a bit rough. The text greatly improved with the riveting BRAKING POINTS, and now we can see Kaehler and her characters in full bloom, in this powerful and gripping book.

Reilly is a sports car racer at the top level. And the author’s genius move here is to have the entire book revolve around one race, the granddaddy on the schedule, the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race. That construct, much like mysteries set on a moving train or in a house cut off from civilization by the storm, focuses the action, narrows the detective capabilities, and tends to sharpen the storyline.

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Braking Points

brakingpointsI’ve said this before but here we go again. There are great baseball, football, basketball and even golf novels but there are few wonderful novels built on the theme of auto racing. Perhaps the best is Garth Stein’s THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, and you can give some kudos to Bob Judd and the short stories of Jonis Agee.

But it’s a short list. I think now we can add Tammy Kaehler to that group as her second novel featuring race car driver Kate Reilly, BRAKING POINTS, irons out the difficulties in her debut novel DEAD MAN’S SWITCH, and promises even finer things in the future.

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Dead Man’s Switch

For some reason, mysteries about auto racing are few and far between. There’s Jim Lavene’s NASCAR series; I remember Bob Judd wrote a few books back in the early ’90s I enjoyed (BURN, CURVE); and Garth Stein wrote a memorable novel about racing, family and dogs (THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN), but it wasn’t really a mystery.

Now, here’s Tammy Kaehler exploring the world of sports car racing with her debut novel, DEAD MAN’S SWITCH. Our protagonist, Kate Reilly, is an up-and-coming race car driver, trying to land a full-time ride with one of the good teams in the American Le Mans Series. She’s had the occasional fill-in role with decent results, so she attends each event, hoping to substitute if someone comes down sick or injured. Or dead.

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