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Young PI BJ Janoff is randomly approached by a stranger with a proposition he can’t refuse–a million dollars to deliver an envelope to a hotel lobby. The pusher forces him to accept the money upfront and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t deliver the envelope in three days. BJ’s growing obsession with why the envelope’s contents would be worth that much leads him down a treacherous road toward the orchestrators of the game, where he discovers a large-scale political controversy, a treasure hunt for a priceless sword, and a global crime ring linked to a WWII-era secret society. 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 comes to truths he can’t bear to face–about his missing father and the elusive Bilderberg Group.

Award-winning author Lisa Towles checked in with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest novel, the political action thriller, THE RIDDERS:

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?

This book started for me with the “What would you do it” question that I present in the first chapter—a hapless young private investigator getting coffee at a fancy hotel on his way to work and he’s presented with an “opportunity of a lifetime” that naturally becomes an inescapable hell ride.

Lisa Towles

Was there anything new you discovered or that surprised you as you wrote this book?

I’ve been fascinated by secret societies like the Bilderberg Group for many years, but the research needed to write this book gave me more historical context and greater detail of this organization’s reach and impact, which was fascinating. I also learned a lot more about freeports, which are these interesting “hidden pockets” used by people for not only legitimate but also for clandestine purposes. And that’s what I love the most about political thrillers— they’re about SECRETS and STAKES…

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?

I have a huge passion for political thrillers—not because I love politics necessarily, but because I love secrets, the layers that protect them, and the scandalous human behaviors involved in preventing their exposure. I was so energized by the plot and characters in this book, I wrote the first draft in five weeks, which is miraculous for me. Most of my books take 5-6 months.

At what point should you realize that you’re headed down a rabbit hole and there may not be an easy way out?

I think too often we ask an innocent question or start researching something, which pulls us into a related topic, and we’re curious as humans, so of course, we follow the thread. We go deeper, and deeper, and pretty soon where in a place that we did not anticipate, it’s not on our original path, we don’t know how we got here and there’s no door—only walls surrounding us.


Lisa Towles is an award-winning crime novelist and a passionate speaker on the topics of fiction writing, creativity, and Strategic Self-Care. Lisa has eight crime novels in print with a new title, The Ridders, forthcoming in November of 2022. Her latest publication, Hot House, reached Amazon #1 Bestseller in Kindle (August 2022), was the First Place WINNER of the Book Fest 2022 Literary Award for Mystery & Crime, and won a Gold Literary Titan Award for Fiction. Lisa is an active member and frequent panelist/speaker of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She has an MBA in IT Management and works full-time in the tech industry in the San Francisco Bay Area.

To learn more about Lisa and her work, please visit her website.

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