Archives for Book Reviews

Book Review – KISS THE BRICKS – A Kate Reilly Mystery by Tammy Kaehler

Review by Steve Wittich

Kiss The Bricks
A Kate Reilly Mystery
by Tammy Kaehler

Kiss The Bricks, the fifth book in author Tammy Kaehler’s Kate Reilly Mystery series, arrives just in time for the the 2017 Indianapolis 500. After finishing 17th in her first try on the 107 year 2.5 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, Kate Reilly and her Beermeier Racing team are back for a second run at the Memorial Day Classic.

Reilly ends up leading the first day of practice, which naturally leads the press to compare Reilly with with P.J. Rodriguez, the first and only other female driver to lead a practice session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  After leading the opening day practice in 1987, Rodriguez, who is an up-and-coming Mexican driver, committed suicide only days before the big race.

When fans, bloggers and media start asking Reilly if she plans on committing suicide, she can’t help feeling a connection to her fellow driver. When Rodriguez’s family suggests that P.J.’s death was not a suicide, the amateur sleuth springs into action to help solve the three decade old mystery.

Reilly has the biggest race of her career to prepare for, but with the help of her manager and friend Holly Wilson, boyfriend and FBI agent Ryan Johnston, and biggest cheerleader and grandfather, Gramps, they investigate P.J.’s death. From the practice days, to sponsor events, qualifying, media duties and through the race, the clues continue to fall into place until Reilly is able to put everything together and prove that Rodriguez was murdered as she’s celebrating her excellent result on race day.

Kaehler’s Kate Reilly Mystery Series has found that rare equilibrium of being able to appeal to the millions of mystery fans, while still staying true to the racing fraternity. Kiss The Bricks introduces racing newbies to the sights, sounds and emotions of the Indianapolis 500 without being overwhelming, but also gives those in the racing fraternity enough well researched history, characters, and happenings to keep them engaged. As a “racing insider,” there were certainly a number of times that I grinned in acknowledgment of recognizing a situation or character.

To the credit of the author’s keen sense of history, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the host of the century old annual speed party at the corner of ‘16th and Georgetown’ in Speedway, Ind. known as the “Greatest Spectacle In Racing,” is given the same treatment as the human characters in the book. The Brickyard’s nuanced personality, storied history and colorful characters (past and present) help the strong female protagonist solve a mystery that is close to her heart.

Keeping readers turning pages without putting down their work is the ultimate goal of all Mystery Writers, and Kaehler certainly succeeds with Kiss The Bricks. Kaehler intertwines a believable pool of suspects and realistic scenarios that kept me guessing right up until the murderer was flushed out.

Whether you are a fan of mystery novels, strong female leads, or a racing insider, Kiss The Bricks, which will be released on May 2, 2017, is a must read during the ‘Month of May’.

The book is available in ebook, or paperback at Amazon or Poisoned Pen Press.

 

Book review: RED FLAGS, A Kate Reilly Mystery by Tammy Kaehler

By Liz Wittich

Book Review: RED FLAGS, A Kate Reilly Mystery by Tammy Kaehler

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In Tammy Kaehler’s fourth installment of the Kate Reilly series, Red Flags, Kate finds herself once again in the middle of a murder scene. The action picks up a week out from the annual Grand Prix of Long Beach where Kate has several responsibilities. She has a new sponsor, her estranged father’s family owned bank, which is further complicated by her cousin’s untimely murder.  The novel opens with the police asking her to identify the body.  Throughout the week leading up to the race, Kate must balance her ambition to further her career, her responsibilities to her two sponsors along with her current team, her own curiosity—oh and win the race.  While she continually tells everyone around her that she isn’t investigating the murder of the cousin she despises, she can’t seem help herself because as the police detective points out “’If you’re both an insider and an outsider, your perspective could be useful.”’  This idea of being both on the inside and the outside is the motif for the entire story arc; in every aspect of her life, Kate is both an insider and an outsider.  It is this perspective that is so appealing and makes the reader want to follow Kate’s journey.

Kaehler seamlessly integrates the racing world into her writing, giving those who are unfamiliar with racings’ intricacies a peek behind the curtain.  One does not have to be a race fan to enjoy reading this book.  Racing is the backdrop of all of the novels, but the heart of every one is Kate Reilly: a no-nonsense female heroine who happens to stumble into danger both on and off the track. As with every book in this series, our protagonist, Kate Reilly, is an up and coming female drive in the IMSA series with the desire to drive in both the IndyCar and NASCAR series.  In Red Flags, Kate is finally seeing her dreams realized.  She has a spot on a championship contending IMSA team and not one but two major sponsors with her newest sponsor paying for oval testing with an IndyCar team and plans for her to race in the most coveted of all races, the Indianapolis 500.

Those in the industry will find that she has brilliantly captured the psyche of racing and will identify with the balancing act that the Kate faces throughout the series.  Mystery fans will enjoy the intriguing characters and the complexity of story which will keep them guessing until the end.  Red Flags is a fast paced murder-mystery with a splash of romance and a big dose of women kicking ass.

Tammy Kaehler is in Indianpolis for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 this week and is making the following public appearances:

  • At the Irvington Branch of the Indianapolis Public Library at 6:30pm on Wednesday, May 25th. The east-side library branch is located at 5625 E.Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46219.
  • With 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 starter Pippa Mann at the Carmel Clay Public Library at 11am on Thursday May 26th. The Carmel Clay Public Library is located at 55 4th Ave SE Carmel, IN 46032.
  • At IndyReads Books on Saturday, May 28th at 3pm. Indy Reads, an independent, not-for-profit bookstore in Downtown Indianapolis, is located at 911 Massachusetts, Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202.

Book announcement: Lionheart – Remembering Dan Wheldon

 

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Lionheart – Remembering Dan Wheldon

As the 2016 IndyCar season gets under way here in his adopted hometown, news comes of a stunning new book paying tribute to the still greatly missed Dan Wheldon.

Written and produced by Andy Hallbery and Jeff Olson, “Lionheart – Remembering Dan Wheldon” is a high-quality, visually stunning 216-page book chronicling Dan’s remarkable story, as told by the people who knew him best: his family, friends, teammates, crew members and fellow competitors.

Covering his career from karting all the way to being two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and IndyCar Series champion, the book is full of stories and memories, some funny, some touching but all truly captivating. Featuring contributions from legendary names within the IndyCar Series and beyond, including lifelong friend and teammate Dario Franchitti, Formula One champion and childhood karting rival Jenson Button, NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, and many more from across the motorsport world.

Proudly carrying on Dan’s legacy, this coffee-table book will be available to pre-order soon, priced at $74.99 and is fully supported by his family. A portion of the proceeds goes to benefit two charities close the British driver’s heart – the Alzheimer’s Association and the DCW Foundation, created to continue the wide-reaching charitable work which Wheldon started.

Dan’s wife Susie Wheldon said of the project, “I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everybody involved for their dedication to creating this book, and to everyone who contributed, too. The response has been truly incredible. It shows just how many people’s lives Dan touched, and is a wonderful legacy for our two boys, Sebastian and Oliver.”

To be published in May during the 100th Indy 500 celebrations, the book promises to be a ‘must-have’ for any race fan.

Keep posted on www.lionheartbook.comwww.indycar.com and follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/LionheartDW for more news and information on how to pre-order very soon.

Book Review: The Sheer Force Of Will Power by David Malsher

By Steve Wittich

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The Sheer Force of Will Power by David Malsher is not your average racing biography, and that is the absolute highest compliment that I could pay this recent biography.

Bluntly put, too many racing biographies are full of puffery and read like extended press releases. Available now on Kindle (or pre-order for release on March 29, 2016), this tome delves deep into Power’s unique and focused psyche and uses his brutal honesty to take the reader on the same emotional roller-coaster that he has experienced during his 20 year career.

Does the book cover Power’s victories? Of course it does, they are an important part of his story. But, where this biography differs from so many others, is Power’s willingness to talk about some of the lowest and darkest points of his life and career.

Not to give too much away, but when Power recounts that terrible day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 16, 2011, the reader experiences the true first-hand emotions of what a race car driver faces when they lose a colleague.

Malsher immediately sets the tone for the 329 lap (page) race through Power’s career during the first stint (chapter) of the book, with the intense Aussie fighting the demons of past championships lost while preparing for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series finale at Auto Club Speedway.

But, before the reader gets to see the checkered flag waved, the trophies distributed and the champaign sprayed, Power’s career must make numerous pit stops. From the earliest races as a 16 year-old in a Datsun sedan at Millmerran, to battles with Will Davison in Formula Ford at Phillip Island, to three seasons on the best circuits in Europe, to his early years in American open wheel racing, through his seven years with Team Penske, Malsher deftly weaves his words with the words of Power and those closest to him to fabricate an entertaining, yet educational read.

Malsher’s writing style is fluid, but it’s his skill as a journalist and his ability to ask the right questions of his subjects that make this biography a step above so many others. The actual words of those that play a role in a story tend to hold the most weight with readers and Malsher’s skill as an interviewer is able to coax the most personal of observations from Power’s family, team bosses, engineers, crew, and teammates.

But, it’s still Power who is the star here, and it’s his willingness to candidly talk about the emotional highs AND lows of his career, that make The Sheer Force of Will Power not only one of the best racing biographies that I’ve read, but also one of the best sports biographies that I’ve read.

If you want to get to know a championship winning IndyCar driver a little bit better, I highly recommend purchasing this book. Five out of five checkered flags.

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