by Cynthia Chow
& Tammy Kaehler
This week we have a review of the latest novel from mystery writer Tammy Kaehler, a guest post from Tammy about how she came to set her books in the world of car racing, & information on her upcoming events at Mysterious Galaxy. Also, there are instructions on how you can win a copy of the book at the end of this post.
Tammy will be signing copies of Braking Points at Mysterious Galaxy’s Redondo Beach store-2810 Artesia Blvd., Redondo Beach, California, today, April 6, at 2:30 p.m., and on April 13 at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, 7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite #302, at 2 p.m. Also at the end of this post is a link to purchase a copy of the book from Mysterious Galaxy if you can’t be at the signing. If you order before the second event you can ask for a signed copy.
Braking Points by Tammy Kaehler
Review by Cynthia Chow
As the newest member of the Sandham Swift Racing Team, Kate Reilly has much to prove driving their Corvette on the American Le Mans Grand Turing Race series. Unfortunately, a “racing incident” that takes out her car, as well as one of NASCAR favorite drivers, Miles Hanson, puts her in the target site of rabid racing fans, a hateful popular blogger, and the sports media where women drivers are already considered tokens of interest and novelties. While Kate is more than capable of steering her corvette at 170 mph on the race track, off the track she has more difficulty navigating through her new relationship with the VP of ALMS marketing and as a representative of all female drivers to the media. A barrage of attacks, both personal and professional, have her attempting to figure out why she has become the target of sabotage that affects not just her but the entire Sandham team.
The endurance and skill requirements are unquestionable in the American petit Le Mans race, which consists of ten hours or a thousand miles of racing and guarantees entrance into France’s twenty-four hour Le Mans race of punishing endurance. Even with Kate switching off and on with her teammate Mike Munroe, the race will test her judgment and connection to a car that holds 491 horsepower.
Although Kate has complete confidence in her skills behind the wheel, it is the business side of racing that has her on edge and questioning herself. Even though she has trained for years to drive an immensely complicated and powerful machine, Kate never expected to be required to appear for photo shoots, cater to sponsors, or utilize a public relations firm to manage her relationships with fans. Without being asked, Kate uncomfortably finds herself in the position of being a role model for women. With some media coaching she takes to twitter like a pro and utilizes social media to rally support and convey her goodwill to the other drivers.
With the pressure of being the representative for female drivers on her shoulders, Kate welcomes a reunion with two of her former competitors and friends, Juliana Parker and Ellie Grayson. While Juliana has become a sports broadcaster and Ellie a driving instructor for a race car company, Kate looks forward to their camaraderie and support. So it’s a tragic blow when Ellie is poisoned. The biggest question becomes just who was the intended target. Also complicating life for Kate is the recent appearance of the father she never knew, but who has an uncomfortable presence in her racing company and whose identity, if known by others, would inevitably influence how she is treated by her teammates.
While the first mystery featuring Kate Reilly documented her struggle to qualify for the Sandham Swift Racing Team as a driver, Braking Points focuses on the discrimination she faces as a female racer in a sport dominated by men. The catch-22 situation of a cosmetics company sponsoring Kate brings the benefit of her having a truly supportive company behind her, but it is also carries the stigma of one that appeals only to women. Kaehler explores and explains in an easily understandable way the complex world of competitive racing, from the intricate rules to the toll it takes on the drivers. The author skillfully approaches the mystery using a completely unique approach and opens the fascinating world of competitive car racing seen through the eyes of a woman to the reader. Kate’s strength, reliance on her friends, and the trust she places on her team make her an admirable and very engaging heroine.
Going Under The Hood
By Tammy Kaehler
The way to hook me on anything is to show me how something works. I’m a sucker for inside looks, behind-the-scenes shows, or even factory tours. So maybe it’s not surprising that when I learned about the world of professional automobile racing from the inside out, I turned into a junkie—and then I turned into a published author…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
A decade ago, I worked part-time, freelance as a marketing writer for a subprime mortgage company—and if you remember anything about the early 2000s, it’s that a lot of subprime mortgage companies were doing a lot of business and had a lot of money to spend. As one of their marketing initiatives, as a way to entertain the mortgage brokers sending loans their way, this corporation got into racing, sponsoring a team and the racing series itself. They needed extra hands to attend race weekends and host the brokers, so I volunteered. (They might be famous last words someday, but one of my mottos is “I’ll try anything once.”)
I didn’t know—or care, to be honest—anything about racing. “Dirty, noisy, redneck” is probably how I’d have described the whole sport. So I arrived at the first race weekend ready for adventure—but I honestly had no idea how far racing would take me. No one did.
The first surprise was that the cars weren’t big and ugly—though they were certainly loud. The racecar tarted up with the mortgage company’s colors and logo was a Porsche, racing against Ferraris, Vipers, Maseratis, and Corvettes. The drivers, teams, and crew came from and raced all over the world. And race fans came in every size, shape, stripe, gender, and socioeconomic level.
I spent the first couple of races enthralled with the action and passion I saw, astonished at the commitment and cost involved, and stunned at the noise. I learned the basics about racing and became proficient at leading our guests on tours of the paddock and pits. But what hooked me was the under-the-hood perspective—the access.
I got to see and do things—and meet people—that most race fans would sell a body part for. On one memorable night in Connecticut, I sat down to dinner with two internationally accomplished drivers, a championship driver/team owner, and the two main SPEED channel announcers—Leigh Diffey and Dorsey Schroeder, minor celebrities in their own right. (I later immortalized the evening in my first Kate Reilly Racing Mystery, Dead Man’s Switch.)
I got hot laps—bat-out-of-hell trips around a track in a street car driven by a professional driver, often a woman—at every track on the circuit, in vehicles as diverse as a Porsche 911, a Corvette, and a Maybach. I met legendary drivers and team owners, sat in (stationary) racecars, and dashed across the (active) pit lane to stand at the pit wall along the front straight of the racetrack, during the race.
What grabbed me was the combination of adventure, drama, glamour, hard work, and friendly people. The glamour is what you see from the outside, from the television broadcast. The hard work, sweat, tears, and skill are what you see from the inside. I was truly hooked.
Somewhere along the way, I had an idea for a mystery series that would be something like Dick Francis’ novels, but set in the auto racing world and featuring a female driver. Everyone who’d treated me well as a representative of a sponsor treated me just as well when I showed up, unaffiliated, asking for help with research for a novel. (I might have imagined the indulgent, amused smiles.)
Never in a million years would I have thought that a willingness to add corporate hospitality to my marketing resume and to enter into what seemed like a cultural exchange program would result in me authoring a series of mystery novels featuring a female racecar driver. Because neither racing nor writing mystery novels was on my radar yet! In ten years, I went from knowing nothing at all, to spreading the word—and sharing my enjoyment and love of the sport—to readers through my racing mysteries. You really never know where life will take you!
To enter to win a copy of Braking Points, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, with the subject line “Braking”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 13, 2013. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
Use this link to purchase a copy of Tammy’s book and you help support an indie bookstores & KRL: