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Tested To The Extreme

Lisa Towles Author Interview

The Ridders follows a self-proclaimed wreck of a human being who is given a seemingly simple task that spirals wildly out of control. What were some ideas that sparked your imagination while writing?

I like the idea of taking common occurrences and making them uncommon, and then watching what our characters do under duress. I’m always fascinated to see if my characters crumble under the pressure, rise to it, or even thrive, maybe, ignited by some previously unseen inner force. I think that’s the case with BJ.

What were some obstacles you felt were important to defining BJ’s character in the story?

His feelings about his family are tested to the extreme in this book. So love and loyalty turned out to be not only obstacles but liabilities for him, to the advantage of his pursuers. BJ’s a searcher, and that means he cares about the truth and authenticity far more than safety, certainties, and predictability. And so reconciling the truth of his relationship with Lacy was also an important turning point for him.

I find that authors often ask themselves questions and then let their characters answer them. Do you think that’s true?

I love these insightful questions! Definitely – one of the questions I like to ask (my characters and myself) is “what would happen if…” I love, when reading thrillers or watching movies, the author or director is following the predictable formula and then yanks the rug out. This story follows the path of a young private investigator trying to prove himself. But in his pursuit of worthiness, he proves that he’s way over his head. I think the questions that came to mind while writing this book were “How far will you go to find the truth” and, more importantly, “What will you risk to find those answers?”

When and where will this book be available?

All retail book stores and it will be released on November 30th 2022 by Indies United Publishing. It will be published in paperback, hardcover, Kindle, and audiobook formats.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tiktok | Website

Brock “BJ” Janoff and his older brother Jonas run a private investigation firm in Venice, CA. BJ is randomly approached by a stranger on the street with a proposition he can’t refuse – one million dollars to deliver a single envelope to a hotel lobby. They pay him up front, which sounds good on the surface, but now BJ’s life is in danger if he doesn’t deliver the envelope in time. Obsessed with the envelope’s contents and the “why me”, BJ follows clues to investigate the players behind what he believes is an organized crime scam. When an act of brilliance changes the balance of power, the safety of everyone he loves is in jeopardy. And the more he digs, the closer he gets to truths he can’t bear to face – about the elusive Bilderberg Group, his missing father, and about the fate of everyone he loves.

The Ridders

All BJ needs to do is deliver an envelope. It’s a simple task and shouldn’t take much thought or preparation–walk in and hand it over. He could do it in his sleep, really. It seems too good to be true, and he’s well aware of it. This, however, is not your ordinary envelope and comes with some truly disturbing consequences. On the other hand, if BJ can just talk himself into completing the task, he will walk away with a cool million. There are few things holding BJ back–his brother, his experience as a quasi-private investigator, and as it turns out, a murder.

The Ridders, by Lisa Towles, is a political action thriller and contains every element of humor, drama, and suspense readers could hope to encounter in 220 pages. Towles has introduced an amazing cast of characters beginning with narrator, BJ Janoff. BJ is a self-proclaimed wreck of a human being and prone to taking risks while his brother, Jonas is a level-headed planner and much less likely to fall prey to the type of scheme he believes BJ has now found himself battling.

The parallel storyline in Towles’s work is the perfect complement to BJ’s life-or-death delivery task. Jonas’s missing person case brings an even more intense sense of urgency to the storyline. As it complicates matters, BJ continues to look for ways to survive a job that should take no more energy than pouring a glass of water.

Towles is a master with humor. I thoroughly enjoyed the exchanges between characters, especially BJ and Jonas. There is a strong reference to family throughout the book, and the quips between brothers only serve to build upon that theme. Towles has created a thriller that is both amazing in its twists and turns and at the same time relatable–a truly remarkable feat.

The Ridders contains the type of writing I will choose each and every time when it presents itself. Dramas with memorable characters and complicated storylines are preferred far and above all other genres. Towles delivers just that. Every page is filled with introspection by the narrator and main character, BJ. His self-doubt and the way he relates to his brother endear him to readers and bring Towles’s work to life. I highly recommend this work to fans of thrillers who demand more from the reading–they won’t be disappointed.

ISBN:  978-1-64456-438-7

Broken Trust And Secrets

Lisa Towles
Lisa Towles Author Interview

Hot House is the story of Mari E.’s adventure as a private investigator. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I love stories about corruption, because at the heart of them are always stories of broken trust and secrets, and secrets have so many juicy different layers, and so much power. So the original idea was someone investigating the blackmailing of a federal judge, which is pretty high profile. Then the investigator, Mari, was targeted, which was an indicator that she was getting close to a truth someone wanted to protect.

Mari and Derek are interesting and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Facing fears, building trust in relationships, hiding from the past, and family connections

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Lost and found was a theme I explored – lost family members as Mari’s father has been missing for the past two years and that creates the backdrop mythology to her personal story.

Personal safety is another theme – Mari was shot in the line of duty when she was a CIA operative, chasing a formidable adversary that still haunts her now. Jacques Martel is the antagonist that propels the story forward through all three books in the series – he’s her nightmare and her nemesis.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Books 2 and 3 of the E&A series are complete and I’m now working on a new standalone thriller. I’m not sure yet whether the next published book will be Book 2 in the series, entitled “Salt Island”, or the standalone thriller. But I hope the next book will be available end of 2022 or early 2023.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Publisher’s Website

When a former CIA operative and private investigator Mari Ellwyn starts digging into the blackmail case of a federal appellate judge, she becomes targeted by a van following her, threatening notes in her mailbox, and a breach of her home. Teaming up with seasoned investigator and former detective, Derek Abernathy, the crime-savvy pair begin looking into the wrongful death of a mentally-ill college student, Sophie Michaud, as well as two journalists – one dead, one missing, who were writing a story on the dead college student with allegations of her connection to the federal judge. The two investigators must uncover the truth about Sophie Michaud before her killer makes them their next target. But more importantly, Mari needs to find her missing father and reconcile her broken past and family.

Hot House


Marissa Ellwyn, or Mari E. as she prefers to be called, has her hands full. She holds down two full time jobs even though her family’s wealth would seem to dictate that she doesn’t need either of them. Art gallery owner and private investigator are almost two hats too many for this determined woman who is on the verge of being in over her head. When Mari is followed by a mysterious van and soon after the victim of breaking and entering, she begins to examine any and all connections to her current case. Throw a new partner and former LAPD detective, Derek Abernathy, into the mix and you have quite the thrill ride of intrigue, suspense, and humor.

Hot House, by Lisa Towles, is the story of Mari E.’s adventure as a private investigator. Against her family’s wishes, she has continued to pursue a life on the edge and really wouldn’t have it any other way. Her current case involves the blackmail of a high profile member of the court system. In addition to solving his case, Mari is battling her own demons as she fights to find her own father who disappeared over a year ago.

I love this book! Mari is a firecracker of a character and delivers one highly-relatable quip after another. I felt her struggle in my soul–every frustration with those around her who just “don’t get it,” and each time she muttered under her breath with exasperation. As main characters go, Mari has it all. She wraps readers around her little finger, and she has a past. Don’t we all love some interesting baggage when it comes to our main characters? Mari has it in spades. 

Towles has produced a knockout novel with Hot House. There is virtually nothing missing from her writing. Towles’s plot is as twisted and unpredictable as you would ever want a thriller to be. If I am not kept guessing, I lose interest quickly. Towles kept me holding on for dear life as I continued to try to stay one step ahead of Mari and Derek and failed miserably. It’s this kind of action that will keep readers engaged in this suspenseful crime novel.

Nowhere will thriller fans find a more engaging keep-you-on-your-toes read. If you are looking to try out a new author, I cannot recommend a better investment than Lisa Towles’s E & A Investigations series.

Pages: 287 | ISBN: 978-1-64456-421-9

Coming Soon | Indie United Publishing House

The Deeper Crime

Lisa Towles
Lisa Towles Author Interview

Ninety-Five follows a college student who uncovers an on campus scam that’s connected to a larger criminal underworld on the dark web. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

From an investigation perspective, most crimes are like icebergs. What you see sticking out of the water often has nothing to do with what’s really going on, with the deeper crime and the layers of secrets protecting it. Zak was a transfer student trying to reset his academic journey and an on-campus party led him down a rabbit hole and, ultimately, a one-way trip to hell.

Zak is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Duality was one of the ideas I wanted to explore with Zack – bravado and vulnerability, he’s jaded yet innocent, and I was very curious how he would react to not only challenges in his immediate environment but to things that challenged his view of the world, of reality itself.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Ninety-Five is my seventh published book and I think I’m addressing the same themes as an underlying commonality – abuse of power, secrets, corruption, and family connections. But for this book specifically, I found the dark web, crypto, and Pharma elements pulling me deeper into the story.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

This year I finished writing my first series – a three-book private investigator series. I’m hoping the first book in that series will be published in 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Troubled University of Chicago student, Zak Skinner, accidentally uncovers evidence of an on-campus, organized crime scam involving drugging students, getting them to commit crimes on camera, and blackmailing them to continue under the threat of expulsion. Digging deeper, Zak discovers that the university scam is just the tip of the iceberg, as it’s connected to a broader ring of crimes linked to a darkweb underworld. Following clues, Zak is led to a compound within Chicago’s abandoned Steelworker Park, only to discover that he’s being hunted. While trying to find his way out alive, Zak discovers there’s something much more personal he’s been running from – his past. And now there’s nowhere to hide.


Ninety-Five by [Lisa Towles]

Ninety-Five follows an average college student who uncovers a malicious criminal network that is scamming students and luring them into more and more crimes. He soon learns that this is only the tip of a dark and nefarious criminal network at work on the dark web.

The story starts with a new college student, Zak Skinner, who is stressed out by the usual things a student faces in their life; failed subjects, struggles with studying, and a search for opportunities to blow off steam. In Zak’s case, he went for an innocent drug trip, taking ayahuasca and getting high. What he did not anticipate was that he would be trapped in not only one but two illegal crime rings, unique and devious in their own way.

Author Lisa Towles’s writing style is perfectly suited for this crime thriller, and very detailed as well as graphic. I loved how she builds Zak up in a way that he deduces things on his own, because he is very smart and perceptive, but he also knows his own limits. This unique balance sets Zak up as a character that is intriguing and fun to follow. This is an engrossing technothriller with some cryptography in the story which reminded me of Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress. I love the science fiction aspects of the plot. We get to explore the dark web in some refreshing ways and are dragged through this dark underworld that has a persistent air of intrigue. A special mention of all the Harry Potter references; I laughed at each moment.

Ninety-Five is a riveting crime thriller that has a unique enough setup to stand out in the college fantasy genre. When I started the book I got the sense that the narrative was leaning more fantasy, but by the end it was a captivating mix of crime fiction and technothriller.

Pages: 244 | ASIN: B099SYTJWQ

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