red flags book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

If you think you might like to drive race cars for fun or profit, you could do worse for yourself than to begin by reading the fascinating mystery series about auto racing by Tammy Kaehler. Her lead character is Kate Reilly, champion driver of Corvettes in the SportsCar Championship series. (Previous books and the tracks they race on: Dead Man’s Switch [Lime Rock], Braking Points [Atlanta], Avoidable Contact [Daytona].) Kate never backs down from a tangle, whether on or off the track, and racing authenticity bursts from every page!

Ms. Kaehler has the skill to put the reader in the driver’s seat right along with Kate who proves the necessity of having a selective 5-second memory of everything that happens. You quickly discard what doesn’t work but hang on to those tricks that do! You’ll need it again on the next lap, as an invaluable help in quickly adapting to each car and each track, all of which are unique in their own individual ways.

This time around it’s the Grand Prix of Long Beach (California) which is partially run on city streets. From page one to the end, the tension never lets up. Part of this is because of the glitzy Hollywood stars in abundance in Long Beach, part of it is that there are actually three races this weekend: two of them previously scheduled for Kate, and one for which she’s been coaching a major movie star – Maddie Theabo.

Kate has a rather complicated family history. Her mom died birthing her, and her father sort of gave the baby to her mother’s parents to raise. As is frequently the way of such things, Kate grew up knowing nothing about her father or his family. Turns out there’s a bunch of them: some welcome Kate into the family, others wish she’d never been born.

The somewhat tenuous relationship with her father has expanded slightly to include partial sponsorship for her racing ventures, through his bank, which was formerly based in the east. Now, however, it is expanding to the west coast, bringing her nasty cousins with it.

FBI agent Ryan Johnston and sexiest man alive Lucas Tolani, movie star and erstwhile producer pull her in different directions, as well, but Kate proves her mettle by keeping her mind on what’s really important here on this particular weekend.

Page one flings readers and the characters right into the action: first the discovery of one of Kate’s vitriolic cousins, found dead in a garage area adjacent to the racing compound. After she identifies him, she must go to her racing assignment for the weekend. Hoping to advance to a different sort of racing she is trying out for Indy Lights, and possibly Indy 500, in addition to the race in which she is co-driver of Corvette number 28 – a traditional front-engine car with a roof, as opposed to the open-wheel, ultra- lightweight Indy cars with the engine in the rear.

Anyone who thinks race drivers are not super-athletes should try it for themselves at least once. Every second the car is moving requires its own kind of concentration. One second’s distraction may bring disaster, not just to the driver of said vehicle, but any number of other cars, drivers, crews and onlookers.

Through it all, Kate maintains her equilibrium on the track, even if losing it slightly when confronted by her relative, who blame her for everything that happens within a 50 mile radius of where they are!

Red Flags is chock-full of everything a reader wants: brilliant writing that incorporates great characters, an intriguing and complex plot, plus an exotic setting that goes from Rodeo Drive to the race track that winds through downtown Long Beach.  Fasten your seat belts for a great ride!

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First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Mary Glenn Publicity. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.