I eyed my best friend Holly Wilson from under the brim of my Beermeier Racing cap. “I can’t believe you’re making me do this.” I settled my extra-dark aviator sunglasses more firmly on my nose.
“Get over yourself, it’ll be fun.”
“We’re taking a gossip tour through Hollywood. Shouldn’t that be embarrassing?”
“Who the hell cares?” She glanced back at me as she walked to the end of a short line of people. “And stop trying to hide. Who’s going to see you?”
I eyed the open-top tour van emblazoned with the words “See where the STARS live!” I sighed. “I know three people in Hollywood. With my luck, we’ll run across all of them.”
“Come on, Kate, everyone looks at the van and sees tourists. And the tourists are looking for movie stars, not racing drivers.”
I tugged the hat down lower on my head and followed Holly to the steps of the van, where she handed the tall, skinny driver tickets for both of us. He checked them, waved her on, and glanced at me. Then did a double take.
He grinned, revealing a mouthful of crooked teeth, and snapped his fingers. “I know you!”
Holly froze on the steps in front of me.
“You do?” My voice came out shaky, as my stomach sank to the level of my high-top Converse.
“Sure!” He studied what little of my face he could see. “Yeah, I saw you on one of the morning news shows last week, right?”
I was impressed. Must be a racing fan. Go figure. “You’re right.” I took a breath to ask if he’d attended the Grand Prix of Long Beach the previous weekend and what his favorite series and team were, but he kept talking.
“Right. You have that amazing fortune-telling Poodle named Princess Tinkerbell. But where is she? Didn’t you bring her with you?” He looked around and behind me, as if I might have a dog hidden in my back pocket.
Holly made a choking noise that I suspected had its origins in laughter.
“Actually, no, that’s not me. No dog, sorry.”
He straightened, looking crushed. Then he narrowed his eyes and nodded. “Oh, riiiiight.” He drew the word out to at least three syllables. “I totally get it. No problem.” He winked.
I looked to Holly, who had control of herself again. She shrugged. “Get what?” I asked him.
“I won’t say another word.” He made a zipping motion in front of his lips.
“I’ve seen ‘Stars: Just Like the Rest of Us’ in People magazine. I get it. You’re just out for the day, acting like a regular person.” He jabbed his thumb toward his chest. “Timmy here can keep your secret.”
“Thanks, Timmy, but really, I don’t—”
“I know! You didn’t bring her because you knew you’d be recognized, right? I mean, she predicted that for you?” He glanced around, verifying that no other customers were waiting. “Can’t you tell me just a little bit about her? She must be so useful for decisions you have to make every day.”
“Sugar, you have no idea.” Holly couldn’t resist any longer. “Sweet little Tink helps us out all the time. Except when she’s having a diva day. You know, like when she doesn’t get her morning latte.”
Timmy’s face lit up at the “insider” information. Then he frowned. “I thought dogs couldn’t drink caffeine.”
Holly patted his arm. “It’s really a doggie-biscuit latte—you know, chopped up treats instead of coffee grounds? Tink just loves the whipped cream on top.”
Her description made me want to vomit, but Timmy couldn’t have been more thrilled. “Really?” He turned from Holly to me, and I managed to nod. “That’s amazing.”
“Isn’t it?” I frowned at Holly. “I guess we should take our seats. Just please, Timmy, don’t let anyone else know about this?” Because, already, I’m never going to live this down.
“I’ll take it to my grave—if you’ll just tell me one thing?” He took my hand and looked earnest. “Did Princess Tinkerbell really predict that a pet iguana would kill a movie star?”
I didn’t laugh, though I wanted to. Instead, I smiled and patted his hand. “Sorry, she told me not to say.”
I followed Holly to a seat in the van, realizing I’d been wrong. The tour was entertaining already.
Red Flags is the fourth book in the Kate Reilly mystery series, published by Poisoned Pen Press, April 2016.
When Kate Reilly arrives in Long Beach, California, a week ahead of the Grand Prix, she’s immediately plunged into a new social scene―as well as a murder investigation. Her cousin Billy is found dead, with Kate’s card in his pocket. The cops want to know why, and sponsors and race organizers―anxious to keep racing’s image clean―want Kate to investigate. Doubting she can solve another murder, especially that of a relative she despised, Kate reluctantly agrees.
At the same time, coaching a gorgeous and talented actress for a celebrity race brings Kate into the orbit of Hollywood’s hottest bachelor. And then a local FBI agent takes notice of more than her driving and sleuthing skills. She goes from Sony Studios to Venice Beach and from Rodeo Drive to the Hollywood Hills, attending parties, power-shopping, and dodging unwelcome paparazzi. Kate’s ballooning media exposure generates national commentary, testing her composure and forcing her to get ahead of the stories―whether critical or flattering.
Kate’s professional dreams are also coming true. The upcoming Grand Prix is her first race with a new sponsor that’s also funding an IndyCar test drive and a ride in next year’s Indy 500―along with future possibilities in NASCAR. The downside? New sponsor Frame Savings is owned by her family, and its management, outside of her long-estranged father, is unfriendly to her. . .even rivalrous.
Kate must stay on her toes as the Long Beach race weekend begins. She’s negotiating the next steps in her career, driving two racecars and coaching a third, discovering more about the disreputable members of her father’s family than she wanted to know, and juggling questions and suspects. On track, red flags fly to warn her of danger. Off track, Kate struggles to interpret warning signs and stay out of a killer’s grasp.
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About the author
Tammy Kaehler discovered the racing world via a stint in corporate marketing, and 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 Racing Mystery Series (Dead Man’s Switch, Braking Points, and Avoidable Contact), and Tammy takes readers back behind the wheel in her fourth entry, Red Flags. She works as a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area, where she lives with her husband and many cars. Read an excerpt of Red Flags online.
Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Dead Man’s Switch. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end April 26, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!
All comments are welcomed.