My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In In the Company of Liars, David Ellis applies the unusual, though not unheard of, technique of telling his mystery in reverse chronological order. As the novel opens, what appears to be an open and shut case is presented, that of crime novelist Allison Pagone who is on trial for murdering her lover, a congressional lobbyist. Soon it slips back to a few days earlier, then a few days before that – well, you get the picture. Of course, all is not what it seems, and the reader is presented with the actions and perspectives of Allison herself, her family, her lawyer, the FBI agent on the case, some Pakistani terrorists, and a host of other characters. All, including Allison, are shady, and all have their own reasons for being so. Is Allison guilty? If she didn’t do it, who did? What do the terrorists have to do with the death of a lobbyist? All eventually becomes clear, but not until the very last chapter.
This is a complex plot that requires close attention to prevent losing your way, and a couple of times, I had to reread portions to be sure I had it right. Ellis did a good job with it. It would be interesting now to read it in forward chronological order, but he’s probably not planning on doing a rewrite.