Have you really come a long way, baby?
Race car driver Kate Reilly can qualify for the Indianapolis 500 for the second time if she does well enough in the trials. She’s shocked when she puts in the fastest time in the first practice session only to hear her achievement brings out the worst in a misogynist group of men who think women shouldn’t be racing at all. Rude, sexist comments and hateful news stories compare her to PJ Rodriquez, the first woman to have the fastest time back in 1987—a woman who never got to race in the 500 because she reportedly jumped off a building. When PJ’s mother and brother, aware of Kate’s sleuthing experience (Red Flags, 2016, etc.), beg her to prove that PJ was murdered, she can’t say no even though her schedule is already crammed. The main sponsors of her racing team are her father’s bank and his formerly estranged family, and she has her own worries about both those family members and the grandfather who brought her up attending the race. As Kate struggles to get her car properly adjusted, she gets help from her gossip queen assistant, Holly, and Gramps, who hangs around the pits and garages picking up stories from the past. Luckily for Kate, her team is a lot more supportive than PJ’s, who were far from unanimously in favor of a woman driver. Slowly Kate pieces together the story of a woman who may have been stressed to the breaking point but whose death ended up benefiting quite a few people on the racing scene. Now she just has to figure out which one before the killer makes her into another female driver who could not take the stress.
As usual, Kaehler combines a credible group of suspects with some detailed racing lore. Even readers who don’t care about cars may well be hooked by the feminist angle.