When Kate Reilly arrives in Long Beach, California, a week ahead of the Grand Prix, she is 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 is 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 race cars and coaching a third, discovering more about the disreputable members of her father's family than she wanted to know, and juggling questions and murder suspects. On the 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.
Race car driver Kate Reilly finds herself in California for multiple reasons. Before she can even begin her official duties, the police ask her to identify a body since her card was in the victim’s pocket. Her hated cousin Billy has been murdered. The police ask her to make inquiries and find out what she can about Billy’s death. Kate agrees since the race organizers and sponsors want her to be sure racing’s name is kept clean.
A week before the Long Beach Grand Prix, Kate is coaching a celebrity driver who will race with other celebrity drivers the following week. Kate enjoys sharing her knowledge with the gorgeous movie star she is paired with. Kate also visits her on the set and finds herself attracted to Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor. The two date and are hounded by paparazzi, with Kate finding her photo in the tabloids the next day. Via her experiences in Hollywood, Kate learns much more about how to handle to paparazzi and national media attention.
Kate also meets up with the FBI agent introduced in the last book – Avoiding Contact – and the two also go out to dinner. On the way to meet him, Kate is driving by the headquarters for Frame Savings, her father’s bank, and in the slow traffic watches a young woman douse herself with gasoline and begin lighting matches. Kate jumps out of her car and knocks them away before the woman can light the gas. As she does, the woman’s sister arrives, explaining to Kate the harassment her sister has put up with while working for Frame Savings only to be fired by the people Kate dislikes most – Billy, cousin Holden, his father, and her father’s brother Edward. Kate’s father is shocked to hear the allegations.
Kate runs into her father often as she goes from Sony Studios to Venice Beach to Rodeo Drive to the Hollywood Hills attending parties, shopping, and being treated to a spa experience. Kate also attends several sponsor meetings where she lines up a continuing contract with Beaute, the breast cancer Research Center, and Frame Savings as well. They sponsor an Indy car test drive, and all are in agreement that she will drive the Indy 500 the next year, followed by NASCAR. Kate is chosen to drive an Indy Lights car this race weekend since the original driver cannot get out of Europe.
Everything coalesces on race weekend as Kate drives the Corvette C7 race car number 28, drives the Indy Lights car, plus coaches her celebrity driver. Outside the track she reveals whom she feels murdered Billy, and soon discovers she was wrong when the actual killer sets their sights on Kate.
I felt this entry in the series was a big step forward for Tammy Kaehler’s writing. I found the multiple plot lines woven together at several venues enhanced the race commentary a great deal. Much of the time Kate was racing or pursuing her career and dreams in racing yet she has a personal life which she trusts the reader to share. RED FLAGS was a greatly enhanced story rounding out Kate’s full life.