By Tammy Kaehler
Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Trade Paperback Original
Tammy Kaehler takes us to see Kate Reilly race in the Indianapolis 500, one of the most popular auto races in the world. Kate Reilly would consider winning the race a dream come true, while finishing the race is still a lofty goal. The world would probably see her as the first female driver to win, one of Kate’s biggest gripes as well. She wants to be considered a driver, just as any other male or female.
Anyone who races in the Indy 500 participates in a series of events throughout the month of May. Days of practice culminate in qualification in order to determine which 33 drivers are in the race as determined by their lap speeds. Kate is shocked to find herself as the fastest driver of the field! Unfortunately, Kate’s next day of practice is a difficult one, and she finds herself near the bottom of the field. Now Kate must contend with being compared to PJ Rodriguez, the first woman to be fastest on qualification day in 1987, followed by days of being in last place and ending with her death five days later. The official cause of death is suicide, but many who knew PJ well believe it was murder.
No investigation into PJ’s death thirty years ago was ever done. The family comes to Kate with their feelings on PJs death and asks Kate to look into facts that might substantiate murder as the cause of death. Kate’s reputation as an amateur sleuth has preceded her to the track. Kate agrees to look into PJ’s death partly because she knows the tenacity needed to make it to the top and believes that PJ would not give up before meeting their mutual goal. PJ bore the same pressures on being a “girl” driver as Kate does, so comparisons run rampant.
Kate is thrilled her grandfather is in Indianapolis for the weeks up to and including the race. He stays with Kate and Holly, Kate’s roommate, her assistant, and best friend. The three form Special Team Kate to investigate PJs murder. They begin by trying to place who was at the race that had access to PJ and who would benefit by her death. They are joined early in this task by Ryan, Kate’s FBI boyfriend, who is in town for the race. He lends a professional quality to their research.
Many activities follow qualification day that involve Kate and bring her in touch with many people involved in Indy thirty years prior. First Kate’s position in the field of drivers must be determined. Next is a day of media and public relations where the Indy league sends teams of drivers to various major cities. A team competition to see who has the fastest pit stop follows. Numerous interviews with TV, radio, and print ventures keep Kate on her toes and busy between official events. A festival parade is held on the Saturday prior to the race with the usual floats and participants as well as all the drivers.
All these activities are interrupted by the murder of the man who had owned PJ’s team, also the father of one of Kate’s team owners. Relationships between the people involved in present day mix and intertwine with those of thirty years ago. Special Team Kate now considers viable possibilities for both murders.
Everything culminates in the running of the Indy 500 race. The twists and turns we have taken with Kate bring us to the conclusions of both mysteries. Does Kate run the race to the end? Is PJs death considered murder and if so, whodunit?
I very much enjoyed this complex and detailed perspective on the Indy 500. I found KISS THE BRICKS to be another step up in Tammy Kaehler’s writing skills, bringing us closer to the action and everything that makes up the Indy 500. Definitely recommended.
Reviewed by Sandie Herron