By M. Weiss "Gideon Yorke"
5.0 out of 5 stars
Le Mans was an excellent read - gripping, knowledgeable, and well written. I can't wait for another book in the series.
The Fast Lane Just Got Faster!
By Dr Benjamin Pitman
5.0 out of 5 stars
One afternoon in Melbourne in September 1993, as I waited for my bag from a Sydney flight, a gentleman standing next to me started to chat. Intrigued by the accent, when I turned to look I realised it was none other than Ayrton Senna. I was immediately struck by how compact he was. Television tends to make one assume famous people are much bigger than they actually are, so that was a major revelation. Although at that stage the Australian Grand Prix was still held in Adelaide, I figured that Senna was in Melbourne for some R&R and en route to Adelaide.
My experience of motor racing hitherto had been limited and not much has changed since then. Other than seeing various grand prix results on television (along with snippets of races and the presentation of awards, resplendent with the obligatory spraying of champagne from the victory podium) the world of motor racing remained another realm. It was arcane and many-leveled, with a multi-billion dollar cachet of exoticism, glamour, romance and danger; where mega bucks flowed faster than the champagne; where techno-whizz kids could diagnose problems and genius mechanics fix them instantly and pit crews could change a tyre and refuel in seconds. All pit-stop support functioned like a seamless, choreographed ballet, overseen by beautiful women and distinguished men in impeccably sexy uniforms; and where one technical or strategic driving hitch could send all of the invested millions of the moment, running down the drain. The excitement was palpable and the tensions, utterly biblical in scale.
Enter, Dakota Franklin who gives us an insider's view of that other world; a world of money, privilege, cutting-edge technologies and razor-sharp distinctions between various teams, ensconced in their ultra-secure eyries and intent on keeping any advantage whatever, strictly under wraps. National security has nothing on the lengths that racing empires go to in order to protect, conceal and safeguard their multiple treasures.
Mallory, a graduate of MIT in auto engineering, a woman in a man's world and a six-year auto racer, crashes out at Road Atlanta in the number two car of Team 4J, while doing over 180mph. As she recovers in hospital, uncertain about her injuries, let alone any future, racing legend, Charlie Cartwright of Team Cartwright-Armitage, comes to visit. Mallory's crash, it transpires, was due to brake failure and then being nudged into another car. As well as a gift of makeup from his wife, Charlie offers her a job. Given her treatments, and path to recovery, it is five months before she calls Charlie and in a whirlwind, is off to Woking, location of the Cartwright-Armitage HQ. It is an entrée to a life in first class and the very best of everything. The deal is simple: six month's probation with an expectation of lifetime employment. Regardless of any scenario, Mallory finds herself valued and respected and on a fast track learning experience, all against the backdrop of another race through the high life and culture of Europe.
It's not just about talent meeting nouveau and techno riche though. There is taste and older money as well in the form of Lydia and Gianni Simpresi, who, apart from bankrolling operations, also enjoy the luxury of sexual ambivalence within a marriage where real money permits every indulgence.
It then transpires that there is a spy within Cartwright-Armitage, feeding secrets to Fred Minster. Minster is American, a ruthless piece of work with ambitions to be world team number 1 and certainly not intending to take prisoners along the way. It's Mallory's job to discover who the spy is.
Meanwhile, Mallory also meets cellist, Richard Cranborne whose sister Claire was a close friend of Charlie's before his wife Carolina came along. Claire's death at a young age impacted Charlie's life considerably. Faster and more intense than any race, passion explodes for both Mallory and Richard; two peas in different pods, who needed to meet each other.
But Richard also has uses out of bed and the many other opportunistic places they make impassioned love. He provides Mallory with some musician insights into different aspects of computer tech. In an aha moment, she learns the golden truth:
Computers are dumb. They perform only your specific instruction, not your general intention.
She then becomes the supreme techno-sleuth and identifies the mystery thief who has the ultra glamour combo of being young, black and gay. As well as a couple of million salted away from a grateful Minster, Jacko also gets paid off by Cartwright-Armitage in an interesting sleight of hand deal. Sadly, he doesn't get to use his ill-gotten gains. He comes to a sticky end in a mangled second hand Ferrari, having had the very good taste not to waste himself in a brand new one. Mallory gets the guilts over this outcome but has too much else on her mind and plate to get too carried away with the ultimate morality of it all.
Fred Minster, meanwhile, is mega pissed off with this Mallory upstart stuffing up his plans. It all happens in a racing flash but Mallory gets kidnapped while putting out the trash and making an offering to a cat, and ends up on the receiving end of some none too pleasant violence, imprisonment and rape at the hands of Minster's hired Cockney thugs.
However, white knight Charlie has this all figured out and crashes through a wall to the rescue. Although Mallory later gets a few slaps on the wrist for missing essential preliminaries at Le Mans, payment of a few fines satisfies the indignant French authorities and Mallory can get on with the job. Minster's thugs meanwhile get themselves badly done over by Charlie with his grandpa's trusty vintage golf club. Niblick to the rescue!
Minster though, wants a big splash at Le Mans and in timesaving desperation, submits parts plans for manufacture, clearly labeled Cartwright-Armitage. Bad move in a litigious and protective intellectual-property world like top class racing.
Now, if you thought that things from here on could not get any more exotic, they do. Demi-god racer and cute glamour boy, Nicko, turns out to be gay as does arch villain, Minster, both of whom attempt to conceal the fact with beautiful women on their respective arms. It seems that the arcane world of racing is not immune from the subtle differences within the rest of the community after all. Related to the stolen plans, there is an apparent liaison involving the now dead Jacko, Nicko and Minster.
The brains trust at Cartwright-Armitage then hatch a plan to destroy Minster through a gradual takeover of his public corporations. Carolina has a banker in New York; Charlie's brother-in-law, James, is a banker in the City of London and the Simpresi connections and commercial empire also include banks. Ergo, funding the dastardly plan will not be a problem. But this is all a side detail.
In the meantime, Le Mans unfolds as the event of the moment and with Mallory behind the wheel, we get a detailed lesson in the driving tactics and techniques, necessary to stay out of trouble from inclement weather, inconsiderately placed pylons and other racers. It's nail-biting stuff as the race circuit becomes littered with shattered vehicles, ambitions and careers. In the final crunch it is down to Mallory and Jackie-Joe Jones Junior to fight it out. After much angst and personal suffering, our heroine, Mallory wins the ultimate prize and Jackie-Joe ends up in a heap.
We of course must await others in the series to find out where the details left hanging in Le Mans take us. I'm hooked.
The intense techno-data is essential for the plot and the bonafides of Dakota in making it all hang together authoritatively. For some readers, however, given the intensity of the overall experience, it could be considered obsessive detail getting in the way, even a bit tedious. But, Mallory is on the case with her characteristic intensity so many of us will just get caught up in it all and not let our brains get too fuzzed or offended.
Franklin's writing is descriptive, good and unfussy without providing a truly intense literary experience. It is totally "in character"; a good coupling; a good "fit" with the themes and the complex, individual and collective personas of the characters. The race theme also applies to the plot with rapid changes in location; some so abrupt as to be surprising, where for example, there is an instant time shift from the Musée d'Orsay to chez Bugatti in Mulhouse. But, this is a racer's world and time and tide wait for none! We mere mortals just have to keep up or perish!
There are some lovely turns of phrase: "German portmanteau words which uniquely encompass an idea that English requires half a dozen words to describe" caught my eye. Oh, and some classy references. I loved the snippet about a Goffriller cello once played by Pablo Casals. Such details also satisfy the erudite and creative souls amongst us.
So really, Le Mans has it all - thriller, mystery, factual insights into the blood and bones of car design and racing and an exciting adventure in the ultra fast lane. More please!
by Lynne (Tigger's Mum)
5.0 out of 5 stars
I loved the book, a really fast paced read, literally. I could smell the petrol, it was so descriptive, the atmosphere and technical details were so accurate.
This book is terrific!
by John E. Entwistle
5.0 out of 5 stars
I downloaded this book on a whim before a long flight, and couldn't put it down once I started reading it. A must for all car guys and a decent mystery too.
Le Mans is thrilling both on and off the track
by Good Book Alert (J. A. Beard)
5.0 out of 5 stars
American race car driver and engineer Mallory thinks her career is over after a bad crash. When an elite European racing organization offers her a job, she eagerly accepts. But in the high-stakes world of international racing, ethics and even the law mean little to those seeking an edge. Soon Mallory is thrust into a dangerous investigation that may cost her a lot more than her career.
Before I started this book, I knew nothing about elite racing. I did have a cursory knowledge of NASCAR, but that mostly came from reading the occasional article and watching a few minutes of a race now and again. In fact, I don't even currently have a driver's license. To complete my blasphemy against all things automotive and high-powered, I should note that I think the automatic transmission is a wonderful invention.
I mention all of this because I want to make it clear that driving, in general, just doesn't interest me much. In my perfect world, a robot car would drive me from point A to point B. All the thrill that's supposed to accompany the control of high-speed vehicles just makes me shrug.
That's why it was so surprising to me that a book centered on auto racing so thoroughly seduced me. Heck, I hadn't even heard of the Le Mans race before, despite it being the oldest active (if not most prestigious) auto endurance racing event.
Characterization forms the core strength of the novel. We're granted a clear and engaging POV via Mallory as she deals with her transition from being a broken down racing pariah to a valued member of an elite organization. She's a likable and proactive lead with just enough vulnerability to add appropriate weight to the more emotional parts of the narrative.
In addition Mallory is surrounded by a well-rounded and well-developed group of distinct and realistic personalities. Depending on one's sensibilities, some of these characters may not be particularly likable (they take "Ruthless to Win" seriously), but they are all interesting.
Although there are some departures to deal with Mallory's romantic interests and her general growth in her new racing organization, the primary plot focuses on a well-constructed and tension-filled mystery concerning a traitor among the racing organization staff. This plot , in turn, threads into an actual Le Mans endurance race.
Considering I find watching auto racing dreadfully dull, I fully expected to find reading about it to be downright painful. Instead, I was able to experience the tension, excitement, and chess-like calculation involved in endurance racing. The book finally made me begin to understand what people see in auto racing, a triumph of both writing and accessibility. Even if you're all but completely ignorant about racing and/or cars (like myself), the narrative relates what you need to know without being intrusive. Indeed, the only vaguely expository thing I found questionable was the tendency to explicitly explain the American equivalent of various British words, but I can easily imagine someone less versed in such things being irritated if they weren't explained.
No matter how you feel about racing, if you're looking for a fresh thriller, you should definitely check out this book
by Sarah Dixon
5.0 out of 5 stars
I never thought I would be giving five stars to a book about racing!
I have just completed my first re-read and I loved it even more on reading it for pleasure. The story follows the main character, Mallory from her hospital bed following a pretty serious crash, to her first race at Le Mans. Along the way she solves the problem of who is selling the secrets of the team to the rivals. There is so much action in the story, I didn't feel like I stopped for breath. There was just enough technical racing information to keep me interested without feeling bored. I felt like I was racing alongside Mallory in the car at Le Mans. I loved her as a main character, she was strong and capable, even when her life is in danger, just the sort of person I would love to be!
The book would appeal to males and females alike and if, like me you have no interest in racing itself, you will love it if you are looking for a good mystery. By the time you get to the revelation of the guilty party, you will be hooked.
Le Mans is part of a series which follows different characters in the racing world. I will definitely be checking out the next books in the series.
(Extracts only from a review on Goodreads and Amazon UK.)
A wonderful story full of action and remarkable detail
by Boyd S Drew
5.0 out of stars
Dakota Franklin has used her extensive sports car and engineering experience to spin a really engaging story that I found difficult to put down. It has many very entertaining story elements woven into the fantastic racing environment that is Le Mans. I can honestly say that there's one more fan on the Dakota Franklin mailing list.
The Queen of Racing Scribes
by John Houlton
I can't tell you how much I enjoy this series. I absolutely love your writing style. While I am certain you hear this from many people more accomplished than me, I have to tell you that as a racer, I find you do a better job of conveying what racing "is" than any author I have read, and I have read them all. That, and as a closet romance fan, I have fallen head over heels for Mallory. Thanks for sharing your fascinating and inspiring cast of characters with me. We need to see you back here in the States strolling the paddock as the reigning Queen of Racing Scribes!
Racing Justice is Dakota's latest podium finnish!
by John K Houlton
5.0 out of 5 stars
Dakota does it again! In "Racing Justice" Dakota Franklin serves up the latest installment of her scintillating "Ruthless to Win" series. Dakota takes us inside the world of Simon Aron, legal Wonder Boy and critical component of Cartwright-Armitage racing. Filled with courtroom drama against a racing background "Racing Justice" continues to weave the tapestry that is the fabric of memorable characters readers have come to love in this series. Filled with clever twists the gripping story is told with Dakota's signature style which is marked by race-winning pace, tight prose, clever wit, and simply superb character presentation and development. Dakota tells her stories with an insider's knowledge that only someone intimate with road racing could possess, and an engineer's eye for detail and technical accuracy. After reading "Racing Justice" I would not be shocked to find that Dakota is also a practicing Attorney, and a Wall Street Banker, such is the insight she shares into the murky worlds of law and financial intrigue. On top of all this Dakota treats her readers with another love story woven into the plot which makes the entire story line complete, durable, and very, very human. In short, I loved this book, as I have every installment of the series. Crafted by an expert writer with a unique and fascinating style, all of Dakota's books offer an inside look, and thorough analysis, of a sport and it's satellite world populated with characters only she can conjure. I highly recommend "Racing Justice" and this entire series, to anyone who loves to read a thriller, a mystery, or a romance, and certainly to anyone with even a passing interest in Road Racing or the greater human condition. Well done Dakota, pop that cork from the top step of the podium! You deserve to savor this victory.