I’d already disappointed the radio host twice. Once because I didn’t fly on a private jet to races and once because I didn’t know Danica Patrick or Mario Andretti. After that, I did my best to live up to her expectations.
“Here’s a question from one of our listeners,” she began. “Shelly wants to know what city you’ve raced in is the most fun?”
“Long Beach, California, is great.” I paused. Is that exciting enough? Probably not. “But Surfer’s Paradise in Australia was probably the most fun environment.”
“And where would you like to race, given the chance?” Her voice was two degrees above tepid.
I wasn’t connecting with her, and I silently cursed Holly for setting me up to talk with a “lifestyle channel” in the first place. I told her this wouldn’t go well.
“Good question,” I returned, closing my eyes for a moment to the reality of my small Indianapolis apartment, currently torn up from a combination of spring cleaning and packing for the road trip I was setting out on that evening.
Charm the skeptic, Kate. “Two of my dream races are the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which takes place every June in the French countryside, and the Grand Prix of Monaco.”
“Monaco,” she cooed.
“It must be such a glamorous life,” she went on, “traveling all over the world, tasting all kinds of wonderful foods, and meeting so many different people.” She made it a question.
I thought about my last trip: hauling own my bags through the Dallas airport at one in the morning, arriving at my hotel to find it overbooked, finding a room at another hotel by two, and getting up by five to spend a full day charming sponsors.
I thought about flying coach on crowded commercial flights to hotspots such as Birmingham and Columbus and Milwaukee. About endless jetlag and repetitive meals of tasteless chicken and vegetables. Sure, I’ve got your glamour right here.
“I’m very fortunate to do what I love and to be able to see the world along the way.” I smiled, meaning every word.
“Now, tell me something.” The interviewer lowered her voice, finally sounding more friendly. “You’ve been racing in the IndyCar series for a year now, correct?”
“Just over that, yes.” Thank goodness she’s warmed up. Maybe she’ll ask me something interesting, like how I got started or what I like about racing. What I think about anything.
“Another listener just tweeted wanting to know which driver in the series is the best looking.” The host giggled. “You can tell us, Kate.”
I’m going to kill Holly. I forced an awkward-sounding chuckle. “They’re like my co-workers—some of them are like brothers. I don’t think about them that way.” And I’d never hear the end of it if I gave you a name.
“I see.” Her voice told me clearly I’d let her down again. Three strikes and I’m out?
She gave me one last chance. “And what does the globe-trotting racing driver have on her plate today?”
I took a breath. “Tonight I’m heading out of town to be part of a grand-opening celebration for my national savings and loan sponsor. But before that, I’ve got a photo shoot for my cosmetics-company sponsor, Beauté, for a new ad campaign they’re putting together, which should debut by the end of summer. Look for it in major beauty magazines.”
The host warmed up after that, whether due to the cachet of national media or because the interview was over. After we made nice noises at each other and hung up, I pulled on long rubber gloves and hauled bleach and a scrub brush into my bathroom, reflecting on the nature of marketing, branding, and public relations.
I’d omitted the “boring” bits of my travel plans, namely that I’d be driving myself to Cleveland for tomorrow’s event. And I’d fudged about the photo shoot, which would happen the following week, not that day. But no one wants to see how the sausage gets made, and no one wants to know about my day scrubbing my own sinks.
I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror—wearing sweats and a sloppy tee-shirt, my hair caught up haphazardly in a scrunchie. It’s not all photo shoots and pit lanes. This is the dirty secret of my glam life. I laughed, and got to work.
You can read more about Kate in Kiss The Bricks, the fifth book in the “Kate Reilly” mystery series.
At the end of the first practice session for the iconic Indianapolis 500 race, Kate Reilly is stunned to discover she was the fastest driver on the track. She’s even more surprised to learn she wasn’t the first woman to top the speed charts in the race’s 106-year history. That feat was accomplished in 1987 by PJ Rodriguez-steady, dedicated, immensely promising-who shocked the racing world and the wider one by committing suicide ten days later.
When the press, bloggers, and social media go crazy over the connection between PJ and Kate, Kate begins to lose her identity-suddenly everyone’s comparing Kate and PJ, calling Kate PJ, and wondering if Kate will kill herself, too. Under siege from various trolls live and digital, Kate feel PJ’s story deeply. So she’s impelled to listen to PJ’s family-which claims PJ did not jump, but was murdered. And she agrees to help them find PJ’s killer and restore her reputation. . .30 years after the fact.
PJ’s death was a great tragedy; Kate feels it in her bones and believes she is the best person, perhaps the only person, to investigate PJ’s story. What evidence is there? She can interview people at the track who were there in 1987. She can consult the press coverage. And she can marshal up help from “Special Team Kate.” They work in an atmosphere of prejudice and chauvinism, the same that surrounded PJ.
But Kate is at the Indy to run the biggest race of her career. To prepare she fills her days with driving on the track for practice, fulfilling sponsor obligations, promoting the IndyCar Series and as ever, playing peacemaker between the warring sides of her maternal and paternal families.
Before long one suspect in PJ’s death turns up dead, all but confirming PJ was killed. So as Kate prepares to run the biggest race of her life she must narrow down the clues to not one but two murders, all while fighting for her own voice and identity through the storm of media attention. Will the past stay buried? Or will history repeat itself and leave Kate dead?
Kiss the Bricks is the 5th Kate Reilly mystery and takes its title from the Indy winner’s tradition of kissing the track’s Yard of Bricks in tribute to its legendary history.
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About the author
When Tammy Kaehler discovered the racing world, she was hooked by the contrast between its top-dollar, high-drama competition, and friendly, family atmosphere. Mystery fans and racing insiders alike have praised her award-winning Kate Reilly Mystery Series (Dead Man’s Switch, Braking Points, Avoidable Contact, and Red Flags), and Tammy takes readers back behind the wheel in her fifth entry, Kiss The Bricks. She works as a freelance writer in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and many cars. Find out more at www.tammykaehler.com.
All comments are welcomed.
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