Tammy Kaehler's latest mystery, Red Flags, is a book that reminded me why I love reading so much. I have wanderlust in my soul but there is never enough money for me to travel to all the places on my bucket list. Well-written books, about places and worlds that I know nothing or little about, help fill the void.
While Red Flags didn't take me to an exotic locale, it did introduce me to the world of auto racing, which before reading it was as foreign to me as typewriters are to today's youth. Kate Reilly, the book's protagonist, is a race car driver who, with Kaehler's vibrant writing, took me for an adventurous ride around a high-wall oval track. I could hear the roar of the engine as Kate pulled the race car out of the pit, smell the rubber of its screeching tires, feel the vibrations of the vehicle as it gained speed, and imagine the tenseness in my arm muscles as Kate upshifted and downshifted on the curves.
This book also fulfilled my desire to read about strong women. I delighted in Kate's feminist fight to be treated as an equal in a man's world, but without so many of the opposite gender's macho traits. One of the things she does in the book is to ask breast cancer survivors to be her "Grid Girls" instead of the traditional pin-up types commonly used by her male competitors. And she goes out of her way to encourage other women in the racing field, instead of seeing them as only competitors.
But even while coming across as a strong woman, Kate also has her own demons to fight, just as most women do. They range from "Am I good enough?" to "Am I doing the right thing?" and she isn't always right in her conclusions. In addition, she battles with difficult career and family situations that slow her down. In other words, she's strong but human, and definitely not Wonder Woman, which makes her a realistic heroine.
And then there is the murder mystery to solve, the death of a disliked cousin, whose body is found with Kate's card and cell-phone number in his pocket at a track during a racing weekend—and on the first page of the book. No lollygagging in getting the mystery started here by Kaehler. While Kate wants nothing to do with helping find the killer, both family members and career associates pressure her to get involved for their own selfish reasons, and blackmail her into doing so.
There are also a couple of handsome men interested in Kate for readers who enjoy a bit of romance. Kate, however, manages to keep the book G-rated while pondering between the pair. Overall, I found the book an interesting read, although I wished I had read the others in the series first because Kaehler mentioned them and left me with unanswered questions. Red Flags is the fourth Kate Reilly mystery. I guess I will just have to put the other three on my reading wish list.
Read an excerpt from this book.
Before trying her hand at fiction, Tammy Kaehler established a career writing marketing materials, feature articles, executive speeches, and technical documentation. A fateful stint in corporate hospitality introduced her to the racing world, which inspired the first Kate Reilly racing mystery. Tammy works as a technical writer in the Los Angeles area, where she lives with her husband and many cars. Visit her website.
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