The Ridders by Lisa Towles Genre: Political Action Thriller
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.
Icleanmygunthesamewayan art collector cares for an original Picasso—with white gloves, tweezers, soft brushes, syringes. An owner of an antique sword might use fine-grade steel wool to remove superficial rust, abrasive paste to clean the brass, and lemon juice to dislodge hardened residue. Distraction, for me, meant taking apart my precious Browning .9mm semi-automatic—a gift from our dead partner Archie Dax the night he died—scrubbing out the bore, wiping down the frame and barrel, regardless of whether it had been shot or not. Like people, guns age when they’re ignored. But tonight I couldn’t concentrate on anything but that envelope, and the clock was ticking to find out what was inside without actually opening it. Fifty-five hours, to be precise, within which I had to deliver something to a hotel lobby lest I got myself garroted, shot by a long-range sniper rifle, or otherwise permanently rubbed out of existence, such as it is.
Ray, my degenerate roommate, slipped past me in his swift, lopsided gait heading to the bathroom in the same dirty shorts he’d had on all week. He shook his head when he caught me polishing the polymer grips at the kitchen table.
“Keep it up, BJ,” he warned. “You’ll never hit your target.” “Is that so?” I said, feigning interest.
“It’ll slip out of your goddamn hand.”
“Ray, you’re a landscaper. What do you know about guns?”
He poked his head around the corner. “Dude, everything in life is about grip.”
Speaking of grip, I heard him peeing with the door open. I hate that. Two more months of this and his lease was up. Counting the days.
I got up and snagged the last beer from the fridge, knowing he was probably planning to do the same on the way back to his smelly lair at the end of the hall. I’d already found a company to do a “deep clean” the day after he moved out. If he leaves. Fuck Ray and his landscaping gig and stupid grips. I honestly had bigger problems than a slippery gun.
“I know you snagged the last beer,” he bellowed.
I took a long, ceremonial sip. “Flush the damned toilet.” Asshole.
What would you do if someone offered you a million dollars to bring an envelope to the reception desk of a luxury hotel? That’s it. Sure, a no-brainer. A relatively inconsequential risk, easy money, right? Trouble is, anything involving a million dollars might not be what it seems.
So many questions. Namely why me, BJ Janoff, should be offered this seemingly innocuous task. There were no answers available, no consultants waiting with details or clarifications. One million dollars in cash to perform this social experiment. Right now. Yes or no?
I know what my older brother Jonas would do. He’d say no because of the multitude of potential hazards his paranoid mind would concoct, keeping him tied to the past, still wearing the same ugly khakis from ten years ago, stuck in the protective bubble of his big house in Ladera Heights and his geriatric Mercedes. So, of course I didn’t tell him. Yet.
Then there was Lacy Diaz, the girl-next-door-turned-lawyer, who drives a car flashy enough to get a speeding ticket if she goes over fifty on the freeway. “Hell, yeah, I’d take it,” she said, with about a hundred caveats. What do you expect; she’s a lawyer. “Wear rubber gloves,” she said. “Ask to see the contents of the envelope first. If it’s money, fan it out so you can see the bill denominations. Take photos of the payor.”
“Photos of the payor?” I laughed and closed my eyes, a response Lacy inspired by pretty much everything she did. “Excuse me sir, would you mind if
“I’m just trying to protect you from potential—”
“Potential. Now you sound like Jonas. His whole world is so much potential there’s no room for now.”
“He’s your brother. You can’t choose your family so get over it.” So be it.
A million dollars? Hell yeah, of course I said yes, I’m not stupid. Luckily, the task was intended for not only the most beautiful hotel in LA but the one I went to almost every morning. Sure, the cappuccinos were okay at the Peets counter, but the staff was even more noteworthy.
“Good morning,” I said, loping up to the counter. “Is it?”
“Pretty sure.” I didn’t let my eyes fall below Raquel’s neck, given her choice of a low-cut blouse.
I watched the Westin Bonaventure Hotel staff moving wordlessly through their tasks today. A keen observer of human behavior, I knew something was going down when Mario the bellhop pushed an empty cart past me and lowered his eyes to the floor. No banter, humming, rapping, high fiving me. No smile.
“Hey?” I called after him. “What am I, invisible?”
Alena, who managed the daytime housekeeping staff, hurried after him toward the elevators. Her face looked like she’d been crying all morning. No makeup and she was buttoning her uniform top while she walked. Maybe I’m paranoid.
Raquel was moving slowly and clearly not interested in talking. So I took three steps to the left to get a view of the reception desk. The typical chorus line of coiffed, perky concierges today included a confused, twenty-year-old in a wrinkled t-shirt. Something, no doubt related to the FedEx envelope I’d tucked into the back of my pants, was afoot. Out of coffee sleeves, I burned my fingers on Raquel’s cappuccino and hunkered low on a lobby sofa watching and sipping. A cadre of men in identical black suits marched to the reception desk. Here we go. I calculated my distance to be roughly fifty feet from the polished, walnut counter, maybe forty-five. Lucky for me, the acoustics in here rivaled the Guggenheim and I could hear everything. One suited man in front, nine underlings huddled behind awaiting instructions. I heard the word envelope posed as a question. The misplaced pothead behind the counter looked like he might start crying any moment. He gazed through the suits into the cavernous lobby space. Don’t look at me, buddy, I don’t exist right now. I took three more sips of
coffee then back to my morning theater.
My phone buzzed with an incoming call. Jonas, who I suppose qualified as my business partner even though I wasn’t paid an equal salary, and there was no legal agreement in place that formalized our working arrangement.
“Hey, bro,” I whispered.
“Hey, bro?” Repeating was one of his annoying traits. He had so many. “What?”
“Where the fuck are you?”
“On a job,” I lied. “Where are you?” I laughed inside, knowing this would unglue him. He hated the idea of my taking side jobs because he felt I was
unqualified to be a private investigator. When our partner Archie Dax was still around, we used to laugh about this. He and I were so similar. He understood me almost better than anyone. I’d only had my investigator’s license for less than a year when he died, but he never thought that mattered. Said I had the right head for PI work. Aww, Arch. My world’s not the same without you.
“Job? What job?”
Poor Jonas. I still hadn’t told him.
“Okay look, we’ve got the Bergman family coming in at nine tomorrow morning and I need the…” He exhaled long and hard, specifically to relay his frustration and inspire guilt. That ploy never worked with me.
“What, Jonas—WiFi? Maybe you’ve heard of something called the internet.
Yes, I know, and we’re good.” “Router! Router. That’s it.”
Lord. “It’s not the router, it’s the modem speed and the unit will be upgraded within the hour. We’re fine. Just let them in when they arrive.”
“Are you crying?” I asked. “Pacing? Take your pill, Jonas.” “Fuck off. Say hi to Raquel for me.”
I hung up and the phone rang again. “Dude, what?”
“And please don’t wear your stupid backwards baseball hat. Please? I beg you. The Bergmans have money, a lot of it. We need that right now.”
“Okay Jonas, no hat. Happy now?” “We’ll see.”
Okay, so about the Bergmans. Jonas had been talking with them, Sten and Estelle, for the past two days about their vanished eighteen-year-old daughter, Anastasia, heir to their multi-billion-dollar estate, and how her net worth made her an especially enticing ransom target to what they described as “the underworld”. LA’s not utopia but not sure I’d call it an underworld.
Just two more errands today. First, I put a five-dollar bill in Raquel’s tip vase even though she didn’t see me. She still deserved it for being open at 6 a.m. and for looking so goddamn beautiful first thing in the morning. Then I held a small, black plastic ball in my hands and set it on a side table with a perfect view of the hotel’s reception area. The table was on the other side of the seating area so that meant roughly thirty feet from the front desk. The plastic ball, a nanny cam designed to look like an air filter, was partially concealed by the fat leaves on a fake rubber tree plant. Unless someone moved that plant, or the filter for that matter, I’d be able to see the front desk of the Bonaventure Hotel for the next twenty-four hours via an iPhone app, which I suspect would be time enough to see why someone would pay a stranger a million bucks to deliver a stupid envelope.
I woke up restless at 6 a.m. and again an hour later, remembering the sad anniversary, and checked the nanny cam feed on my phone to make sure it was working. It just didn’t make sense, other than the money guys wanting to avoid the ten suited men who kept showing up at the front desk. Three sips of weak coffee and a two-minute shower, I was out the door by 7:30. The traffic gods favored me because I hit the parking lot by 7:58. I entered in slo-mo, starting in the back of the southwest entrance, craning my neck to scan for Lacy’s notorious yellow Lotus. Can you imagine? Not just a Lotus but Solar Yellow parked in a dirt lot in this neighborhood of Venice. And it’s never been broken into, so she said. Maybe thugs felt like the obvious alarm system wasn’t worth the aggravation.
Born one month apart, Lacy and I were two years younger than Jonas, and growing up next door, we were all essentially siblings. When Jonas turned his MBA plus preoccupation with crime into an entrepreneurial venture, of course I was tapped for IT and networking support, given my degree in computer science. Lacy, being a lawyer, didn’t specifically work for Jonas but offered early morning consultations on some of our cases before she went to her real job at her daddy’s law firm. My implacable get-there-first rivalry with her was a leftover vestige from elementary school, racing down the street to see who touched the front door of the school first. So immature. But when it came to women in my life, she was the yardstick to which everyone else was compared. The Lotus wasn’t there yet, and I was delighted to pull into the space she designated as hers. Life’s a bitch, deal with it.
Only because Jonas begged me, I left my collector’s item Dodgers baseball cap on the passenger seat and instead brought my briefcase, a useful prop for billionaire meetings. Little did they know there was nothing but a paperback book in it. On second thought, I pulled out the book and tucked it under my arm. And it wasn’t till I was standing in the dirt lot gazing at the morning sky that I again remembered what day it was—the anniversary of our mother’s death.
“Good morning, Mister Jonas,” one of the cleaning crew shouted from the second floor and waved.
“I’m his brother, BJ.” I waved back, never quite sure what they did up there though Jonas seemed to think it was storage for an eBay business. Must be a very successful eBay business.
I opened the office door slowly, glad that Jonas startled easily and hoping to scare him.
“Hey,” he said, eyeing my attire and immediately clicking into the briefcase and book. He didn’t smile but I felt his soul relax a tiny bit. Shit. The Bergmans were already here. Where was their car?
“Excuse me, Mr. and Mrs. Bergman, I’m Jonas’ brother, BJ. Sorry I’m late.” I switched the briefcase to my left hand and offered my right to Mr. Bergman. A single, hard shake, watery blue eyes, ruddy face. What kind of a name was Sten anyway? At least twenty years older than I expected, same for the Mrs, who remained seated with her arms crossed and eyes squinted. I could tell she was a pistol. How could a couple in their seventies have an eighteen-year-old daughter? Adopted, maybe a granddaughter instead of a daughter? Or maybe they were just full of shit.
“Ma’am,” I said, and sat to their left. Jonas returned to the chair directly across from them.
“See, Estelle, a reader,” Mr. Bergman commented, pointing at my book. I knew that would be a good idea. “You always say young people don’t read. I told you they were good boys.”
Estelle Bergman’s hairstyle was something to behold. A teased, multicolored mass that resembled a sort of modern art storage container. She could seriously hide a ham sandwich in there and no one would ever see it. I averted my eyes and tried not to laugh. It wasn’t working. Jonas shot me a death glance. I got up to get a glass of water and used my palm to muzzle my hysteria. I knew I was punchy from not enough sleep and obsessing over that freaking envelope. Come on BJ, hold it together. Okay. Breathing. I’ll be fine.
“What are you reading?” the woman asked in a taunting whine.
I came back from the kitchen sipping the water and tried not to look at her. That was probably the most respectful thing to do given the expectations of their generation.
“Arturo Perez-Reverte,” I said. “It’s called The Club Dumas, about the Three Musketeers. Amazing story.”
Jonas stared, unblinking.
“I know, Jonas, you have the master’s degree but I’m the bibliophile. Deal with it.” I winked at Mr. Bergman and smiled at the Mrs. “Brothers, you know…” “Anyway, Mr. Bergman,” Jonas cut in. “You were about to tell me of a new
development about Anastasia. Please continue.”
“She hasn’t come home, if you were wondering,” Mrs. Bergman said with a humph.
“Have you filed a missing person’s report with the police?” I asked. Jonas expressly told me not to talk during the interview.
“Brock, can you—”
I hated that name. Jonas knew that.
“Three days ago,” Mr. Bergman answered. “Nothing happened. We don’t even think they’re looking for her.”
“Have you considered offering a reward for any information leading to her return and any media support?”
Jonas looked like he was about to explode. “Brock, please,” he whispered. “You know nothing about this case.”
“What does he mean by media support?” the woman asked her husband, who looked at Jonas, who looked at me with his palms out. “Not going on TV, I hope? All those TV execs are a bunch of rapists.”
“No, nothing like that.” Still trying not to laugh. “I just meant a strategically placed news article in a reputable newspaper for print and online coverage, with a picture of your daughter and some compelling details about her life that might make readers sympathize with her disappearance and want to help.”
“That’s not a terrible idea,” Jonas managed. “High praise,” I joked.
“Good. When can you have it done?”
“Me? I’m just the IT guy. Besides, I’ve got another case.”
“Here - the last two boyfriends Anastasia spent time with. Addresses and phone numbers. I don’t have their emails.” Mr. Bergman placed a handwritten index card on the obscenely luxurious white, marble coffee table, Jonas’ unapologetic MBA gift to himself. Admittedly it was the only piece of furniture in here that I liked. It would look great in my living room. Then again, better to wait until Ray left.
“That’s helpful, Mr. Bergman. I’ll move on this right away. Meanwhile, Brock and I will work on the article and we’ll be in touch in the next day or so.”
Mrs. Bergman spent five minutes getting up from the couch. Jonas saw them out.
“Stop calling me Brock,” I told him. “That’s Dad’s name. Not mine.” Our father’s name was George because he chose to take his middle name.
“How old do you think she is?” Jonas asked, presumably of Mrs. Bergman. “Somewhere under a hundred? How should I know? That hair, dude. I almost
had to go back out to my car.”
“I know.” Jonas took the same chair and I sat across from him on the mushy sofa. Now I felt bad for laughing at Mrs. Bergman.
“You know the daughter’s probably just bored,” I said, “bedding down some ghetto crackhead for fun.”
The office phone rang. Jonas went to the desk and answered it on speaker. “Janoff Investigations.”
“It’s Sten Bergman. Tell your brother I have a book for him since he likes to read so much. I’ll drop it off for him tomorrow.”
“Will do, thank you sir.”
Jonas came back to the couch and sat, sizing me up the same way Mrs. Bergman had. We both loved the Supernatural TV series growing up. Even now. I was only ten when it first aired, and my mother forbade Jonas from letting me watch it with him thinking it was too scary for me. The one and maybe only advantage to her long illness was that she went to bed early, usually before eight, and since our father was always traveling that meant no one was around to stop me. Jonas was too cool for school at that age, but I knew he liked our weekly ritual of watching it together, enjoying the recurring banter about who was who. Even though I was younger, I was clearly Dean Winchester, the dysfunctional risk-taker, tactical loose cannon with a bad car, while Jonas was the more stable, strategic, level-headed Sam, both of us unwittingly united in our search for our father. For us anyway, we knew where he was, or we thought we did. We just didn’t know why.
“What’s up, Sam?” I joked, knowing there was never a wrong time for Supernatural references.
“Dean,” he replied staying in character. “Bergman’s dropping off a book for you tomorrow.”
Jonas was grinning. “What, pray tell?”
“You’re wearing a jacket. Like a suit jacket. And you walked in early, with no baseball cap, carrying a briefcase no less.”
“Who are you and what have you done with my little brother?”
“I work here, what’s the big deal? And maybe I’ve been known to adult from time to time. Look, I need to tell you about something.”
“Okay, but I don’t have time right now. I’ve got some research to do on another case and I want to try to track down one of the boyfriends on Bergman’s list. Call me while I’m driving?”
“No, I’ll go with you.”
I gave Jonas the basics and waited for his inevitable barrage of questions. “What’s in the envelope?” he asked, taking forever to pull away from the
curb. He literally turned his head left and right five times. “Dude, what are you waiting for?”
“I’m a cautious driver. What’s in the envelope?” “I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?”
“If I open it before it gets delivered, they’ll kill me.” “Come on. Seriously?”
I took off my grown-up jacket and sighed. “It’s paper. It’s fucking paper. I don’t know what it is. I can’t open the goddamn thing.” Except that it wasn’t paper. It was small, amorphous in shape and form. I’d felt it but I honestly had no idea what it was.
“You mean you won’t get paid if you do.”
“I already got paid,” I mumbled sort of under my breath.
Jonas took a hard right and veered clumsily to the sidewalk, where he let the motor idle in park. For a moment he stayed quiet, staring at the odometer.
“You got paid a million dollars? Are you fucking kidding me?” “Not kidding.”
“Where’s the money?”
A call came in on Jonas’ car Bluetooth. Lacy. He sank forward and reluctantly pressed the green button. “Hey,” he said.
“I need BJ. Is he with you?” “Present,” I chimed.
“Dude, focus here,” Jonas said. “Where’s the money?”
“You told him?” Lacy asked. “I thought you weren’t going to.”
“Oh, well, that’s even better. Why am I always the last to know everything?
Where’s the money, Brock?” “Stashed.”
Jonas sighed and turned now, the car still idling. “Okay. Okay. Gimme the rest.”
“I have to deliver the envelope, or they’ll kill me.”
“What a preposterous story. Seriously, it’s preposterous. Who the hell does that? Okay, back up and start from the beginning. Where were you?”
“Third Street, coming out of Union Bank on the corner, and you know how you can feel when someone’s following you?”
“It was this dinged up old Pontiac, like something out of The French Connection. I kept walking and didn’t change my pace because I knew if they were following me, running would be the worst thing I could do.”
“What’d you do?” he asked.
“I kept walking but farther away from the curb. The street was packed, so my strategy was to blend in with the crowd and sort of disappear without having to run.”
“Good plan. And?”
“Some guy with a beanie and a European accent yelled ‘hey’ out the window enough times that I couldn’t ignore him. I didn’t walk over to him but I slowed my pace, and the car pulled over with the window down. The guy said he had something of mine. I was kinda cagey, but he’d piqued my interest.”
“Did you tell him what he said?” Lacy asked. “That he called you by name?” “Lacy, shut it,” Jonas barked.
“He asked me if I wanted to earn a million dollars for delivering an envelope.” “BJ come on. You seriously can’t be that stupid.”
I looked at my brother. “Sure about that?” “Where?” he asked.
“Deliver it where?”
“The reception desk at the Bonaventure.”
“Unreal.” He shook his head. “And you were right around the corner at that point, right?”
“Right. Of course I noted to the guy that if I delivered it, they could easily just take off and get away with not paying me.”
“What did he say to that?” “Nothing.”
“What’d he look like?”
“Short hair, almost a crew cut under a black beanie, milky complexion, dark glasses, kind of a round face, and tall.”
“He was in a car,” Jonas noted. “How do you know he was tall?”
“The top of his head was touching the roof of the Pontiac, that’s how. So the guy says to me, ‘Proper relationships are based on trust. So we give you money first.’”
Jonas smirked at my impression. “What kind of accent? You said European.
Like Germany, France?”
“Russia, Chechnya, maybe Ukraine.”
Jonas tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. “Lacy, what do you make of this?”
“Oh, I’m allowed to speak now?” “Sorry.”
“What part, specifically?” she asked.
“A guy says BJ deliver this and I’ll give you a million bucks and he’s like, yeah, okay.”
“That’s not what I said.”
“But-you-took-the-envelope, Brock, so that means you’ve accepted their offer.”
I shrugged. “Okay, but I haven’t delivered it yet.” “How long do you have?”
“And how many of those days are left?” Lacy asked, always the clever one in the bunch.
“Did you tell him what happens if you don’t deliver it?” Lacy asked me. “Um…”
Jonas flicked both brows up. “Bye, Lace,” and he disconnected Lacy’s call.
I sulked in the passenger seat like a scolded teenager, trying to tolerate Jonas driving thirty miles an hour in the right lane on the freeway.
“Jonas, please. I was walking down the street and a man cut me off in his beat-up car and handed me a briefcase filled with money. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing, but he forced me to take it and drove away. What else could I do?”
“A lot of things.”
“Where are we going?” I asked. “You’re just gonna knock on the door and ask for Anastasia Bergman?”
“I want to see what these addresses are so I can plan a strategy for approaching them. That’s what private investigators do.”
“Oh, this again. Nice dig.”
“Don’t you think it’s useful to see if the addresses are to an office, an apartment, a storage facility, or a hunting shack in the woods?”
“Yes, Highness, but given the fact that I only have two days left to deliver an envelope, shouldn’t we be using that time to determine what the fuck is in it?”
“Haven’t you been doing that already? What have you been doing for the past day?”
Jonas tipped his head sideways the way he did when he knew I was right. “Okay, look, we’ll be thirty minutes, tops.” He turned to check me out.
“What?” I asked. “You look sad.”
I was deciding whether or not to mention it. But when it came to not only business partners but brothers, guilt can be a powerful leverage commodity. “I guess I’m a little sad that you don’t seem to remember what day it is.”
Another head tip. “Of course I remember. She died in my house while I was taking, or supposed to be, taking care of her.”
“Don’t go there, bro,” I said. “Least you were there with her.” The implication was that I’d been out surfing the day she died and not there helping Jonas, hearing her last words on earth, reminding her how much I loved her. My chest felt tight with grief. Three years. Still now.
“You and Lacy were right, Brock. We should have brought her to hospice, to a facility that specialized in that. Maybe they could have helped her hold on longer.”
“Maybe, but I’m not sure it’s what she wanted at that point.”
That was three years ago, and it still felt like yesterday. We drove in silence to the first address on the list—a business park with no obvious front entrance, which had its advantages. The second address, designated as the home of Anastasia Bergman’s second serious boyfriend, was a large, residential home in Silver Lake. And the third address referred to a street that neither of us nor Waze had ever heard of. Was that even possible?
My phone rang. I reached around to pull it out of the right pocket of my jacket where I’d put it. But it wasn’t in my right pocket. It was in my left pocket.
And it wasn’t my phone. OMG.
I shot Jonas a panicked look and held out the phone like it was toxic waste. “What?”
“Not my phone, dude.”
“What do you mean it’s not your phone?” “It’s not my phone!”
“Whose phone is it?”
I stared wide-eyed, unsure what to do, searching my brother’s eyes for an answer. It kept ringing.
“Shit,” Jonas said. “How’d you…how’d they—”
“Fuck if I know. What should I do? Quick!” The ringing was driving me crazy, like a gong going off right next to your ear.
“If you don’t answer it…”
“I know, I know. You’re right.” I pressed the green button. “He-hello?” I stammered.
“Mr. Janoff.” It was the same voice as the man in the car. “How you doing today?”
“I’m fine, thank you for asking.” I had no idea what etiquette to use for gangsters, other than what I’d seen in Quentin Tarantino movies. “Who is this?” I asked, even though I knew.
“Your new friend, remember? You deliver envelope for us, like you agree. You not forget, no?”
“No. Scout’s honor, your envelope will be delivered on time.”
“Scout, what is scout? I do not know this term Scout but will look up. I have many dictionary in house for many language. Do not forget, Mr. Janoff. Tick tick. We will be watching.”
“And my regards to your dead mother.”
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, including Hot House, Ninety-Five, The Unseen, Choke, and under the name Lisa Polisar Escape, The Ghost of Mary Prairie, Blackwater Tango, and Knee Deep. Her next title, Salt Island, is the second book in her E&A thriller series and will be forthcoming in late 2022. Her thriller, Ninety-Five, was released in November 2021 and won a Literary Titan Award for Fiction. Her 2019 thriller, The Unseen, was the Winner of the 2020 NYC Big Book Award in Crime Fiction, and a Finalist in the Thriller category of the Best Book Awards by American Book Fest. Her 2017 thriller, Choke, won a 2017 IPA Award and a 2018 NYC Big Book Award for Thriller. 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 fulltime in the tech industry in the San Francisco Bay Area.