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Dead Man's Switch A Kate Reilly Mystery (2000)

by Tammy Kaehler(Favorite Author)
3.83 of 5 Votes: 2
review 1: Kate Reilly is an up-and-coming racecar driver, hanging out at the pits, hoping for an opportunity to prove herself by being a substitute or a third-man driver for one of the sponsored teams. I was expecting a strong female protagonist, with a keen mind and courage, swept up in events from which she has to extricate herself - and an inside view of the car racing world. I was hoping for a distaff Dick Francis-style novel, set in the car racing world. This is not that book.Kate is a young (24), short (5’3”), female who has loved racing cars since she was 12 years old. She is quite good, but is looking for a way to break in to the bigger leagues – to belong to a sponsored team. As she arrives in the early morning at the race course, she bumps into a body, with her car.... more It is Wade, the number one racer for the Sandham Swift team. Rumors soon start that maybe she killed him so she could take his place. It doesn’t help matters that the team owner picks her as the last-minute fill-in for the race that weekend.The rest of the novel is set over the four days of the annual American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race being held at that track. At heart this mystery is a cozy, using the novelty of a female racecar driver as a hook. This novel has the usual driver: that Kate feels she must find the murderer in order to clear her name. The background details of the racing setup and fraternity is sufficiently well depicted that we are not convinced that this is in any way necessary. The police detective does not really suspect her; there is no evidence on her nor did she have opportunity. It is here that the book goes off the rails a bit. Kate goes around asking snooping, detective-y questions of everyone (and they willingly answer, no matter how inappropriate), and then passes on all this info to the detective, who is surprised and grateful for the information. Really? He wouldn’t have ascertained this info already, using, oh, let’s say, a computer, or asking around himself, in the first several hours?The initial snooping is tolerable, but becomes more unbelievable as the story continues. Arguably the biggest race of her life is two days away, and she is needlessly detecting and distracted. There is an overbalance of Kate’s internal speculations, such as rehasing and considering options that were ruled out earlier, that would not benefit from her meddling. There is one cringe-worth scene where her inept inquiries has her being admonished like a badly behaved child. We are introduced to a variety of characters but no real toughness or danger. We spot the possible romantic interest in the first five pages. Too bad. One would have expected someone who has hung around the racing circuit for over 10 years to have developed a stronger self-reliant streak.The detailed you-are-there description of the race from the driver’s point-of-view is very interesting, and fast-paced. It is during these scenes that the tension builds, and we sense possible danger – to the driver, to the team, to the race. Too bad there wasn’t more of this tension in the book’s mystery.It is remarked in the book, more than once, that a racecar driver doesn’t need to be big and muscled – that concentration and mental toughness are more important. Where is Kate’s mental toughness? Only in the driver’s seat, it seems.At times a bit twee, this is a hybrid cozy – the female amateur sleuth, but set in a technical, male-dominated, high-tension world of car racing instead of a small town or village. A first novel for the author and the first in the Kate Reilly series, this is a light, mildly entertaining read.
review 2: This first in the series introduces aspiring race car driver Kate Reilly. Hoping to get a chance to drive in the race, she stumbles upon a corpse. Naturally he is driver ona team she knows, and she is chosen to replace him. And also naturally, there are rumors that she bumped him off just so she could drive. It's a hectic weekend for Kate, trying to find the real killer, which she clumsily attempts, and preparing for the race. less
Reviews (see all)
Most excellent introduction to the intersection of Mystery and Sports Car Racing. Superb debut book.
Fast car's racing, a murder mystery all in one - loved the book.
It's combines motorsport and mystery--what's not to love. :-)
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