by Cynthia Chow
& Tammy Kaehler
This week we have a review of the latest mystery by Tammy Kaehler in her series featuring a female professional race car driver. We also have an interested guest post by Tammy. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Kiss the Bricks, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
Kiss the Bricks: A Kate Reilly Mystery By Tammy Kaehler
Review by Cynthia Chow
In just one amazing year, professional race car driver Kate Reilly has gone from placing last on the Indianapolis 500 trial run charts to finishing first. Only one other female racer has ever achieved the fastest speed during a practice race, and her fate seemed to prove that women couldn’t take the pressure of competition. Just ten days after ranking number one on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway charts, PJ Rodriguez fell off the roof of her downtown hotel. Now, reporters and the social media immediately link Kate to PJ, and their shared record of a stellar first run followed by weak follow-ups result in the internet being flooded with hashtags calling Kate the Next Doomed Girl Driver PJ.
Kate discovers that when you are virtually the only top female racing driver, you represent all female drivers. It’s not a role Kate ever wanted, and she further loses her identity by becoming linked with PJ, a woman the driving community believes committed suicide. Spurred on by pleas from PJ’s family who never believed that she killed herself, Kate decides that by proving PJ was murdered Kate can clear both their reputations, restore their dignity, and show that women can make it professional drivers. Special Team Kate, her own Scooby Gang consisting of her Gramps, her FBI agent boyfriend Ryan Johnston, and her PR best friend Holly Wilson, discovers that everyone involved in PJ’s first Indianapolis completion profited by her death. PJ’s team resented working for a woman, reporters made careers out of mocking the girl driver, and sympathetic publicity profited all. Threatening notes to Kate further indicate that she is on the right track, which becomes more certain by a shocking present-day murder.
Chapters depicting PJ’s struggles in May 1987 against blatant and near-violent misogyny should make readers shiver, a testament to the author’s talent at deftly conveying the sexist attitude in the male-dominated sport. It’s an attitude that seems so outdated, and yet still persists today. Even more ironic is that one of Kate’s greatest foes is another female competitor, one who would rather push other women down instead of pulling them up.
The latter half of the novel following Special Team Kate’s exploits is more lighthearted, as are the details behind the Indy 500 spectacles of parades, press-conferences, sponsor showcases, media blitzes, and fan meet-and-greets. Readers will be on the edge of their seats during the final race, with nuanced details made comprehensible and every turn a moment of success or at the precipice of disaster. The mystery behind the estrangement of Kate’s father from her family leads into the next installment of this outstanding and original series, leaving readers anxiously waiting for Kate’s next turn on the racetrack.
The Teacher Appeared
By Tammy Kaehler
When I started writing racing mysteries, I knew people who could give me the information I needed. That was really important because I didn’t have history in motorsports. I’ve never raced a car, and I didn’t grow up in that world. Frankly, I didn’t know a thing about racing until 14 years ago. So when I had the audacious idea to write a mystery about a female race car driver—in first-person, no less!—I knew that credible sources and rigorous checks would be critical. Translation: I had to find real drivers to help me.
That wasn’t a problem while I wrote about cars and tracks I knew from a year of working for a team sponsor and attending races. But eventually, I wanted to write about other kinds of cars, racing, and courses. Like open-wheel cars on ovals. Like the Indy 500. But I had no idea how I’d get there. Still, years ago when I started this adventure, that was future-Tammy’s problem. Perhaps I was feeling zen.
You see, there’s a Buddhist proverb that says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” And sure enough, by the time I was ready to write about the Indy 500, I’d found my teacher.
The year was 2014, and I knew someone who introduced me to a woman named Pippa Mann. She’s a driver. An Indy 500 driver. And best of all, she’s a reader. I’d found my unicorn!
Pippa was thrilled to read my books, and ultimately, excited to help me with the information I needed to write more. I tried to ease her into things slowly, and only relied on her a little bit for the fourth book in my series, Red Flags, which transitioned my protagonist Kate Reilly from a Corvette to an IndyCar (see the photo of race cars). But for my new book, Kiss The Bricks, in which Kate races in the 500, I’m pretty sure I inundated Pippa with questions.
But she was undaunted. I suppose, knowing how hard she works year-round to pull together the sponsorship required to compete in the Indy 500, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I emailed Pippa dozens of questions about everything from pre-race procedure to in-car technical details to “how do you feel when…” She sent pages and pages of answers back. And then she checked the racing scenes, more than once, with incredible patience.
Now that the book is done and getting good reviews, it’s hard to find a way to thank Pippa for her incredible generosity—since I don’t have a spare $50,000 to sponsor her car. But something I know helps her as well as thousands of other men and women is talking about her #GetInvolved campaign.
You see, it’s not enough that Pippa spends all year pulling together half a million dollars in sponsorship money to get a car on track for the Indy 500, but she also spends the month of May raising funds for the charitable organization that’s on her car: the Susan G. Komen foundation.
Pippa’s gotten a wide variety of people to donate goods to be auctioned off—a lot of them are motorsports memorabilia or experiences—and the money raised is donated directly to Komen. I’ve even donated a package of books, Kate Reilly swag, and a character name in my next racing mystery. But the coolest opportunity is the chance to Turn the Cockpit Pink. For $100, you can put the name of a cancer warrior in the cockpit of Pippa’s race car, to run the Indy 500 with her.
So if you’re looking for a unique way to honor a loved one or the perfect gift for that hard-to-shop-for friend, check it out! You’ll be donating to a great cause and continuing to power a “driven” woman’s dreams.
To enter to win a copy of Kiss the Bricks, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “bricks,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 27, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.
Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:
You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.