Dead Man's Switch
A Kate Reilly, Racing Mystery by Tammy Kaehler
Review: Kate Reilly can handle the taunting that comes along with taking the place of a murdered race car driver, but she has a harder time dealing with the notion that she killed him just to get her position on the team in Dead Man's Switch, the first mystery in this series by Tammy Kaehler.
Kate is scouting the Lime Rock Park race track in Connecticut when she, quite accidentally, bumps into body of Wade Becker. Wade, one of Sandham Swift's lead drivers, has been murdered … and while Kate knows she had nothing to do with his demise, most everyone else — including the local authorities — have their doubts. Within hours of finding Wade's body, however, Kate is given his place in the rotation, adding fuel to the smoldering perception that Kate would literally kill to get a chance to drive. But Wade was not the most likeable of people, and there is no shortage of individuals who aren't sorry to see him dead. Now if only they all didn't have really solid alibis, Kate's self-assigned job of identifying the real killer wouldn't be so hard.
Tammy Kaehler clearly knows the world of racing, and readily integrates that intimate knowledge into Dead Man's Switch. The background information about car mechanics and race strategy are presented in a dynamic, interesting manner, not at all dry and professorial, which could easily have been the case; the race scenes themselves are exciting, even pulse-pounding. But the whole premise behind Kate's participation in the murder investigation is rather contrived and stale. Merely finding a murder victim does not necessarily make one a suspect, especially when the finder has no real motive for doing in the findee, though this is a popular — and overused — plot device to justify an amateur getting involved just to clear their good name. To be sure, Kate gets a dream job out of Wade Becker being unable to continue racing — this not being a supernatural mystery, dead bodies are unable to shift the gears of a race car and negotiate the curves of the track, as it were — but from both Kate's and the reader's perspective, this outcome was nothing to count on. (The risk/reward ratio is way out of balance here.) There is a lot of potential in this series, especially since the venue is likely to change with each new book, offering a fresh backdrop for Kate to continue her amateur sleuthing, but the murder mystery plot has to be more original and engaging to give readers a reason to keep coming back.
Acknowledgment: Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity provided a copy of Dead Man's Switch for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), April 2013
ISBN-13: 9781464200991; ISBN-10: 1464200998
Location(s) referenced in Dead Man's Switch: Connecticut
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Dead Man's Switch by Tammy Kaehler — A Kate Reilly, Racing Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: August 2011
List Price: $24.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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