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In The Company Of Liars (Abr.) [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

David Ellis
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

March 22 2005
In the Company of Liars is that rare animal - a truly original thriller, strikingly fresh and unpredictable. Told chronologically in reverse, from its enigmatic end to its brilliant beginning, it’s centered around a woman on trial for murder - Allison Pagone, who is caught between competing forces, each represented by someone who may not care if the pressure kills her in the end. A prosecutor wants Allison convicted and put on death row. An FBI agent believes she can squeeze her into ratting on her family. A daughter and an ex-husband need to save their own skins. And circling them all, a group who would prefer to kill her quietly and anonymously, but who also are not what they seem. Our first picture of Allison is in the moments after her death. Then the story moves backward in time like the acclaimed film Memento: an hour before, then a day, back and back until we’re at the beginning and can see what’s really happened - and most shocking, what has not. At every turn, Allison knows what she sees may not be what’s real. The only sure thing is her place in a vortex of half-truths, threat, and suspicion. When her nightmare is over, where will she be? In the company of friends - or the company of liars?

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From Publishers Weekly

Chicago lawyer Ellis's fourth thriller (after last year's Jury of One) begins with the reported death of bestselling author Allison Pagone—the main suspect in the fatal bludgeoning of her lover, a D.C. lobbyist—and continues backward to the night of the murder. Reverse chronology is a tricky literary device that may prove too demanding for the multi-tasking listener, especially when it comes to keeping track of an elaborate plot involving not only homicide but terrorism, corruption and wheeling and dealing by several law enforcement agencies (and, as the title suggests, lots of lying). But those willing to give this well-produced audio their full attention will be rewarded by an ingeniously plotted and satisfying whodunit, stylishly rendered by Hill and his wife, Breck. Both narrators play well off of each other to give voice to this twisting tale, but the latter is particularly effective in her portrayals of the hapless Pagone, trapped in a seeminglyuntenable situation, and FBI agent Jane McCoy, who is suffering the frustration and guilt of having done the trapping.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Audio Cassette edition.

About the Author

David Ellis’s previous novels include In the Company of Liars, Jury of One, Life Sentence, and Line of Vision, for which he won an Edgar Award. An attorney from Chicago, he serves as Counsel to the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant and Original Mystery! July 15 2006
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
If you are like me, you enjoy mysteries that challenge the little grey cells (as Hercule Poirot was so fond of saying). Having heard that David Ellis had written his latest novel in reverse chronological order, I felt like a worthy challenge had arrived.

While many books use flashbacks, this one goes in reverse chronology (and uses flashbacks). So you have to be nimble-minded.

If you are like me, you will continually make assumptions about what's going on that are wrong. One of the pleasures of this book is that the reverse chronology makes for many more plot complications . . . which, for me, kept the story fresher and more unexpected.

So how do you review a book written in reverse chronology . . . very carefully!

I suspect that the most I can do is to describe some of the key characters . . . rather than give you a sense of the plot. You'll just have to unravel the plot on your own. Beware of any reviews that give you plot details . . . they are, by definition, spoilers!

Allison Pagone is a best-selling novelist of detective stories who is also a lawyer who formerly worked as a public defender. She is recently divorced from her ex-husband, Mat, who is a political lobbyist in their state's capitol. They have a daughter, Jessica, who a college student working part-time for another lobbyist, Sam Dillon, who is a friend of Allison's and Mat's.

Since this is a mystery, you have representatives of law and order (deputy investigator Jodie Griggs, detective Joe Czerwonka, special agents Jane McCoy, Owen Harrick and Irv Sheils from the bureau, county attorney Elliot Raycroft and the prosecutor, Roger Ogren) and those who defend the innocent (attorneys Paul Riley and Ron McGaffrey).
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant and Original Mystery! May 1 2005
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you are like me, you enjoy mysteries that challenge the little grey cells (as Hercule Poirot was so fond of saying). Having heard that David Ellis had written his latest novel in reverse chronological order, I felt like a worthy challenge had arrived.

While many books use flashbacks, this one goes in reverse chronology (and uses flashbacks). So you have to be nimble-minded.

If you are like me, you will continually make assumptions about what's going on that are wrong. One of the pleasures of this book is that the reverse chronology makes for many more plot complications . . . which, for me, kept the story fresher and more unexpected.

So how do you review a book written in reverse chronology . . . very carefully!

I suspect that the most I can do is to describe some of the key characters . . . rather than give you a sense of the plot. You'll just have to unravel the plot on your own. Beware of any reviews that give you plot details . . . they are, by definition, spoilers!

Allison Pagone is a best-selling novelist of detective stories who is also a lawyer who formerly worked as a public defender. She is recently divorced from her ex-husband, Mat, who is a political lobbyist in their state's capitol. They have a daughter, Jessica, who a college student working part-time for another lobbyist, Sam Dillon, who is a friend of Allison's and Mat's.

Since this is a mystery, you have representatives of law and order (deputy investigator Jodie Griggs, detective Joe Czerwonka, special agents Jane McCoy, Owen Harrick and Irv Sheils from the bureau, county attorney Elliot Raycroft and the prosecutor, Roger Ogren) and those who defend the innocent (attorneys Paul Riley and Ron McGaffrey).

Naturally, there are journalists (such as Larry Evans) and various mysterious people outside of the Pagones' lives (such as

Doctor Neil Lomas, a brilliant drug researcher, and Ram Haroon, a suspicious exchange student). These characters spice up the story much more than you would expect.

One of the pleasures of reading the book is that Mr. Ellis does a nice job of both misdirection . . . and giving you clues to overcome the misdirection. So if two things don't make sense together, assume that there are other shoes to drop in the past.

Some will grade this book down because it takes 100 pages or so before you begin to see the beauty of the story. Be patient if you are not thrilled while you first read the book . . . it will get a lot better before you get to the beginning (or the end, if you prefer).

This book will most appeal to those who have enjoyed plays like Sleuth.

I envy you for having this wonderful reading experience ahead of you.

I hope that Mr. Ellis will provide us with another of these gems soon.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly Brilliant Plot April 12 2005
By Patricia Kersten - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This novel opens with three different story lines. FBI Agent Jane McCoy holding a gun on a well-known doctor, a Marine squad attacking a convoy in the Middle East to capture a well known terrorist, and mintutes after the death of mystery writer Allison Pagone. Allison was on trial and about to be convicted for the murder of her alleged lover. Just what ties all of these plots together? To say anymore would ruin the masterful job that Mr. Ellis has done in writing this novel in chronological reverse. He succeeds in crafting a tale with narrative breadth and emotional scope seldom encountered in mystery fiction. The novel proceeds to a flawless slam bang conclusion - or should I say beginning? The result is a deeply satisfying novel that transcends general limitations and lingers in the mind long after the book ends.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing, suspenseful, funhouse of a book April 16 2005
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I initially had some doubts about IN THE COMPANY OF LIARS, David Ellis's new novel. The element that (momentarily) brought me up short was the revelation that the narrative is in chronological reverse. This method, though unusual, is not unknown, nor is it limited to novels. The problem is that it is occasionally employed as a trick of form to distract from the substance of the piece. An example of this is Coldplay's video for "The Scientist," where the method is utilized as a stalking horse to keep the viewer awake during the song.

But it turns out there was no reason for me to worry. Ellis has demonstrated in previous works such as LINE OF VISION and LIFE SENTENCE that he need only rely on his prodigious reserve of talent to carry the day. The same holds true here.

The use of the chronological reverse with respect to IN THE COMPANY OF LIARS is a plot device that functions as a bit of lagniappe to the primary strength of the narrative rather than having to carry the day. It also, incidentally, presents a dilemma for reviewers faced with the task of providing a sufficient summary of the plot without giving everything away.

Let us try. Allison Pagone is accused of murdering her former lover, Sam Dillon, a lobbyist whose company is the subject of a Federal investigation. The evidence against Pagone is damning, and she has done the prosecution the favor of behaving like a guilty party as well. When she is found to have committed suicide, with the weapon that murdered Dillon on the premises, the conclusion is that she has saved the prosecution's time and some taxpayer dollars.

But, but...well, that is only the beginning. And the beginning raises a bunch of questions, including whether Pagone actually did the deed. If she didn't do it, who did? And what is the connection between a murder committed by a jilted lover and the attack upon and capture of a Middle Eastern terrorist? These intriguing questions are more than enough, on their own, to keep you up all night reading this novel. Yet the star here is Ellis, who leads the reader through a minefield of potential distractions with nary a misstep. And that's while walking backward, no less.

IN THE COMPANY OF LIARS is an intriguing, suspenseful, funhouse of a book, with surprises jumping out at you from above, below and sideways. You'll never forget this book, or Ellis, after you've finished reading. Highly recommended.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ingenious May 9 2005
By J. A. KONRATH - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Easily the best book of the year so far.

In the Company of Liars turns the thriller narrative on its head, and makes a clever and engaging statement about the structure of storytelling, while also being a slam-dunk page-turner.

Do you think you've read it all? Guess again.

You won't ever guess the ending, which is really the beginning, and when you reach the final page you'll marvel how Ellis managed to pull it all off.

If you like to be challanged, and enjoy a great mystery, you can't go wrong with this one.

This is a six star book. Amazon needs to add an extra.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kept me guessing June 14 2005
By B. Snyder - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Even though I kind of guessed one of the main plot twists, this book still kept me reading. Yes the reverse chronology is a gimmick, but I think it worked well. On another note, be careful when reading these reviews - Harriet Klausner gives away pretty much the entire story, which will essentially ruin the book for you. And for all the reviewers who said you still couldn't figure out who killed Allison or whether she committed suicide or what, or that the government was sleazy in how they handled the situation, I suggest you re-read Monday, February 9, near the end of the book. It's all explained quite clearly and satisfactorily. (If you haven't read the book, whatever you do, don't read ahead or it'll ruin everything!)
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