The blurb races:
Just as 200,000 fans are pouring into town for Race Week, a body is found in a barrel of asphalt next to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The next day, a NASCAR crew member comes to Temperance Brennan’s office at the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner to share a devastating story. Twelve years earlier, Wayne Gamble’s sister, Cindi, then a high school senior and aspiring racer, disappeared along with her boyfriend, Cale Lovette. Lovette kept company with a group of right-wing extremists known as the Patriot Posse. Could the body be Cindi’s? Or Cale’s?
At the time of their disappearance, the FBI joined the investigation, only to terminate it weeks later. Was there a cover-up? As Tempe juggles multiple theories, the discovery of a strange, deadly substance in the barrel alongside the body throws everything into question. Then an employee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention goes missing during Race Week. Tempe can’t overlook the coincidence. Was this man using his lab chemicals for murder? Or is the explanation even more sinister? What other secrets lurk behind the festive veneer of Race Week?
At this point the series is well established and both the writer and reader are comfortable with the formula.
This particular book takes place in Charlotte (which I generally find less interesting than the ones set in Quebec), and the unique twist is that it has to do with NASCAR.
I don’t really like NASCAR or know a lot about it, so I expected that to be a problem with this book. Fortunately it turned out not to be and I found the info dump about the history of NASCAR interesting.
As is often the case with the books in this series there was really no chance to figure the mystery out until the reveal, although there was one twist that was surprisingly obvious.
The “love” plotline didn’t get moved forward much at all in this book – the love interests appeared only briefly and not much happened with them. On the up side this avoided the problems I often have with this plotline, i.e. the obvious misunderstanding and the unreasonable overreaction.