Auto racing in an inherently dangerous sport. Through the years, countless racers, crewmen, and spectators have lost their life in its pursuit, but hoAuto racing in an inherently dangerous sport. Through the years, countless racers, crewmen, and spectators have lost their life in its pursuit, but how can it get more perilous? By unleashing assorted sociopaths and desperate men into the garages and pit roads.
Enter Tammy Kaehler, the keeper of the leash.
Kaehler has built a world for female racer Kate Reilly who debuted in a 2011 novel named Dead Man’s Switch. Searching for a ride in an American Le Mans Series car, she stumbles upon a body instead, and her life has never been the same. Now in her third tale, Reilly has matured both as a character and a racecar driver.
Since 2011, the ALMS and Grand Am series combined into the Tudor United Sports Car series and Reilly came along for the journey. Her success in previous novels elevated her to the major leagues and she is about to run the biggest race of her career. Avoidable Contact begins were all good racing stories should: On Pit Row—specifically Daytona International Speedway’s pits immediately before the 24 Hours of Daytona. But life is not simple for Kaehler’s character and while soaking in the sights, sounds, and excitement of pre-race ceremonies, Reilly learns that her boyfriend Stuart Telarday has been critically injured outside of the track.
The attack on Reilly’s boyfriend becomes part of a deeper conspiracy that strikes at the heart of the sport. A killer stalks the pits and garages armed with a tire iron and a deadly secret.
Reilly is personally invested in solving the crime not only because of her relationship with the first victim, but subsequently when tragedy strikes her race team. Formerly estranged family members provide a source of information, occasional support, and most importantly a pool of suspect to investigate. Reilly remains center stage with the reader peeking over her shoulder.
For 300 pages, Reilly and Kaehler navigate the demands of racing with solving the murder introduced in the opening paragraphs. As the reader progresses, casualties begin to pile up when Kaehler tiptoes through a precise balancing act of keeping the suspense alive while creating the authentic world of someone who has been around the industry as a fan and professional for quite some time.
In Avoidable Contact, Kaehler has built some heavy constraints that might be difficult to creatively combat. The story must not only take place in a small geographic area—inside the Daytona track—but also needs to be resolved in slightly more than 24 hours before the series packs up and takes the suspects and clues along with them.
Reilly climbs into her GT Le Mans class (GTLM) Corvette Stingray C7.R and puzzles through the clues while under caution. There is enough race action to keep diehard fans interested, but the real strength of the book lies in the mystery, which Kaehler executes with precision much like Reilly navigates the turns of Daytona’s road course. The cast of characters include regulars from earlier novels and some new faces, so while this story stands alone perfectly well, readers will want to go back and pick up the first two books in the series to fully appreciate some of the development.
With the off-season looming, fans need an outlet for bench racing. Avoidable Contact will not only entertain, but it will give race fans a fresh perspective before 2015’s Speedweeks. Watch the background closely in next year’s 24 Hours and you just might see someone suspicious lurking about.