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Hardcover Details
  • 06/2022
  • 978-1644564257 B09R2D22FW
  • 248 pages
  • $26.99
Hot House
Lisa Towles, author
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.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 8.25 out of 10


Plot: Former CIA operative Mari Ellwyn is hired by a federal appellate judge to uncover his blackmailer, but her investigation soon overlaps with the wrongful death of French dual-passport student Sophie Michaud. Recurrent themes of double lives and double-crossing propel the storytelling through a series of inventive plot twists, buoyed by a cast of well-drawn eclectic characters and moments of true humor.

Prose: The combination of short chapters, punchy dialogue, lyrical first-person prose, and immersive scene setting will captivate readers from page one.

Originality: Lisa Towles’s use of the double life motif across several characters, including narrator Mari Ellwyn, adds a fresh layer of intrigue to this already complex and well-paced thriller in which several crimes overlap and ultimately threaten Mari, her partner, Derek Abernathy, and Mari's search for her missing father.

Character/Execution: Towles’s unique characters bridge the seedy world of private investigation with the high-end polish of the LA art world. Mari must connect the dots even as she seeks to maintain a double life of her own.

Blurb: A California crime thriller marked by double lives, double-crossing, and overlapping mysteries that have PI Mari Ellwyn as a common denominator.

Date Submitted: August 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews

"Memorable characters make for a winsome, absorbing detective tale."

Midwest Book Review

"Fans of investigative thrillers and mysteries will be the audience for Hot House, but its ability to craft a sassy, fun series of dialogues and inspections... creates an exceptional read with a powerfully unexpected conclusion, leaving the door more than ajar for a follow-up. This will attract audiences both within and beyond the thriller and mystery genres"

US Review of Books

"It is no surprise that Towles has won recognition with numerous awards bestowed upon her work. The novel is masterfully crafted with well-defined characters and an engaging plot. Towles is a gifted writer with a real talent for building suspense."

First Place Award Winner for Mystery Novel 2022

House House was selected as the First Place Winner of the 2022 The Book Fest Literary Awards in the category of Mystery/Murder&Crime. 

Hardcover Details
  • 06/2022
  • 978-1644564257 B09R2D22FW
  • 248 pages
  • $26.99