Kate Reilly has worked all her life to pursue her dreams of
getting a ride, which is racing talk for getting a full-time
driving job, on the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) circuit.
While she has subbed in for drivers occasionally and is
known on the circuit, she is still trying to chase the
On Fourth of July weekend at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut,
she finally gets an opportunity to prove that she deserves a
full-time ride when she is asked to sub in for Wade Becker,
a well-known driver. However, she gets this opportunity
because Wade's body was discovered that weekend. And,
unfortunately, she was the one to discover it. More
specifically, it was her car's bumper that Wade's body was
Soon, Kate is the primary suspect in Wade's murder. Her
energy is split between trying to prove her innocence and
trying to prepare for the race. For those who are familiar
with the racing world, they will know that race weekend
includes not only practice and qualifying, but also sponsor
meetings, press interviews, and sometimes meet-and-greets
with fans who have won sweepstakes or contests. Of course,
Kate also needs to meet with the team to get up to speed on
the car and the track since she wasn't prepared to race this
weekend, let alone for this particular team and in this car.
In her sparse off-time, Kate tries to play detective by
figuring out who had a motive for killing Wade, but soon
finds out that Wade wasn't nearly as liked as he was
talented. Soon enough, she starts angering various people,
including her would-be owner, the team sponsor, and other
As a long-time motorsports fan AND a mystery fan, I highly
enjoyed this book. It wasn't condescending to those with
racing knowledge, yet I don't think it would be overwhelming
to those with no racing knowledge. There were a few
inaccuracies, but I don't necessarily expect authors to be
experts when writing fiction, and I make exceptions for
artistic license, especially for the sake of good drama,
which this was chock full of!
The characters were full of life and completely believable.
Kate was aggressive but not pushy, and she didn't make a
big deal of being a "female driver," as some of the women on
the racing circuit are wont to do, which quickly gets old.
The Aunt Tee character was most excellent, and I wish we
could have seen more of her and her relationship with the
Aspiring racecar driver Kate Reilly goes looking for a full
time ride in the American Le Mans Series-and stumbles over a
dead driver. When she takes that driver's job just hours
later, she also takes pole position on the list of suspects
in his murder. Suddenly she's in the hot seat with little
time to clear her name and get ready to race a Corvette at
Lime Rock Park.
Amidst suspicion, Kate buckles down, quickly getting to know
the racecar and team, bumping into plenty of suspects who
might have committed murder. Clues fly at her as fast as the
turns on the track, including a cryptic list of blackmail
victims, unexplainable car performance at racing speed, a
jealous husband with an adulterous wife, and drivers and
crew who are openly happy her predecessor is dead. Kate
finds exhilaration and hazards exist on and off track as
she throttles up both the Corvette's V8 and a murder
The green flag countdown ticks away, and Kate must decide
who she can trust to help probe alibis, untangle rumors of
team breakups and personal betrayals, and determine whose
drive to win also constitutes a willingness to kill. Because
what's at stake in Kate's race to the truth is her career â€¦
only by uncovering a murderer can Kate restore her
reputation and prove she belongs in the racing world.
(from Chapters 1-2)
My first big break in auto racing came at the expense of
someoneâ€™s life. But I took it.
You have to have that attitude in racing. Sometimes you
lose because your clutch cable breaks or your tire blows,
and sometimes you win because disasters strike faster teams.
No asterisks get posted next to those wins, no explanations.
Itâ€™s just racing. Sometimes you have it rough, and sometimes
you get lucky.
On this day, I got lucky and the driver I replaced â€¦
â€śunluckyâ€ť would be an understatement. Weâ€™re talking about
I knew Iâ€™d endure weeks of sideways glances and sneers
for a couple reasons. First, Iâ€™d be labeled an opportunist.
It wouldnâ€™t be personal, because any driver hired as a
replacement would receive the same treatment. Second, my
skillsâ€”or lack thereof. She could only get a ride by
someone dropping dead. Iâ€™d have the last laugh from the
podium at those naysayers.
What I didnâ€™t anticipate were the whispers that maybe Iâ€™d
engineered my predecessorâ€™s death to get the ride. I wasnâ€™t
sure whether to be offended, scared that someone who counted
would believe them, or flattered that someone might think of
me as ruthless.
I was female. I was twenty-four. Iâ€™d been steadily
working my way up the auto racing food chain since I was
twelve. I knew myself to be tenacious, aggressive, and
stubborn. The racing world saw me as reserved and feminine,
yet competentâ€”and I worked hard for it. But the bottom line,
to the good old boys of the racing world, was that I was too
female to be ruthless.
I hadnâ€™t heard those whispers yet, and I wasnâ€™t thinking
beyond the ride that was being handed to me on a silver
platter. I was going to be paid to drive for one race, and
maybe for the remainder of the season. Despite what
followed, Iâ€™d make the same choice again in a heartbeat.
I reached the bottom of the hill and turned right,
heading toward the paddock. On impulse, I pulled over and
turned off the engine. I was stopped in a strict no-parking
zone, but I hopped out anyway and crossed the road, stopping
at the fence that separated it from the pits. I curled my
fingers into the chain link and took a deep breath. I loved
this time of day at the track. Still some moist-earth smell
and coolness from the thunderstorms the night before. Though
I could hear noises from paddock garages, the racecars had
yet to be fired up, and the birds had yet to be scared away.
A sense of impending action, possibility, and even
tension hung in the air. These moments rejuvenated me. In
them, I knew one day Iâ€™d drive the track as part of a
professional team contending for a championship. One day Iâ€™d
own this race. With a nod, I pushed off from the fence.
Back in my Jeep, I headed for a parking space at the far
end of the infield. I drove around until I found an open
space on the grass, finally squeezing between an obvious
white rental on my left and a black-and-white-checked oil
drum turned into a trash barrel on my right. I was pointing
at the end of the trackâ€™s Main Straight, separated from it
by only a few yards of grass and another chain link fence.
My attention was half on the track and half on my parking
job, and I jerked to a halt as I saw the trash barrel wiggle
and felt a bump. I turned off the engine and sat looking at
Big Bend. For the two hundred and thirty-seventh time I
calculated where Iâ€™d brake from 160 miles an hour and start
the turn. Iâ€™d ridden around the track with a friend in a
rental car last season. Iâ€™d also walked every inch of it,
but Iâ€™d yet to drive that straightaway at speed.
I pulled the keys from the ignition, slung the lanyard
with my ID around my neck, and got out of the car. As I
pushed the lock button on the remote, I looked at my
reflection in the rear window, reaching up to smooth stray
shoulder-length hairs. My hair was stick-straight and black,
two characteristics that took too much time and too many
salon products to bother changing. Hair, fine. Face, fine.
Same fair skin and blue eyes as always, touched up with a
bit of powder and mascara. I looked down at myself.
Comfortable dark sneakers, clean jeans, short-sleeve, tan
button-down shirtâ€”this one logoed by VP Racing Fuels, a
sponsor of the Star Mazda series. My sunglasses were on my
headâ€”though the sun had yet to break through the overcast.
My black baseball hat from Jean Richard, the official
timekeeper of the ALMS, was in the car, as was the weekendâ€™s
program and my all-important notebook, where I kept notes on
drivers, cars, teams, and tracks. At least I look the part
of the racing veteran, I thought.
I climbed onto my front bumper to look over the fence at
the track, standing sideways, one foot in front of the
other, and balancing with my fingers on the carâ€™s hood. I
twisted to look back at the empty pit row, and followed the
Straight down to the turn, seeing more details of the track
surface from my perch. I was starting to jump down when I
noticed a pile of dark fabric on the ground next to the
trash barrel. Under the front of my car. I stared at it
longer than it deserved, not understanding why.
Were there feet and shoes attached to the pile of cloth?
My insides clutched. Part of a manâ€™s body was under my
bumper. I lost my balance, and scrambled to the ground,
knees wobbling. I darted a glance under the car and saw my
tire against the guyâ€™s leg, but not on it. I hoped.
I swallowed, looked again. I wasnâ€™t sure. I reached out a
hand to shake his shoulder. No response. I tugged slightly,
rolling him onto his backâ€”then recoiled, cringing. Two facts
were immediately clear. This was Corvette driver Wade Becker
lying there. And Wade was very dead.
I froze. Then I heard my own ragged inhale as I turned
and ran for help.