Hot House
by Lisa Towles
Indies United Publishing House

"Like I’d been trained, I thought about time. When did the messages start, and why now?"

Art gallery owner and sleuth Marissa Ellwyn, aka Mari E., decides she needs a partner. She's being followed by a gray van and receiving unwelcomed notes in her mailbox. She assumes this is because of her investigation of a blackmail case targeting a federal judge. Because of concerns for her safety, she contacts ex-detective Derek Abernathy who agrees to a partnership. As the two begin to investigate the blackmail case, they discover that there may be a connection between it and the brutal murder of two women and the disappearance of another. With help from Mari's policeman ex-lover and an old friend, she and Derek begin to unravel a bizarre and sordid tale of obsession and murder that grows darker with each discovery.

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. Her characters are believable, and the dialogue is fresh and crisp in this first book of the E & A Investigations Series. The novel is innovative and has just the right amount of intrigue to keep one eagerly turning pages. She does a wonderful job describing the Southern California setting and moving the action along in this fast-paced thriller. Fans of the genre will appreciate the attention to detail and the many surprises that the author introduces. The secondary story of Mari's father and his connection to her investigation establishes a cliffhanger and subject matter for the next book in the series. Readers should be prepared to miss a few hours of sleep as this one pulls one in and doesn't let go.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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