In the Company of Liars is a truly original thriller, strikingly fresh and unpredictable. Told in chronological reverse, from its enigmatic end to its brilliant beginning, the novel is centered on a woman who is on trial for murder ' Allison Pagone, a mother 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 eliminate her quietly and anonymously, but who also are not what they seem. Our first picture of Allison is in the moments following her death.
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March 07, 2006
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Excerpt from In The Company of Liars by David Ellis
McCoy is first through the door. She hears the man running through the house, his bare feet slapping across the hardwood floor. "Back bedroom," she is told via her earpiece by a member of the team at the rear of the house, looking through the kitchen window, blocking an escape route.
They flood in behind her, a team of eight agents, but she is first down the hallway. Her back against the wall, both hands on the Glock at her side, she shuffles up to the bedroom door and listens. Over the sound of her team's shoes on the hardwood, she can hear sobbing. She reaches across the width of the door and tries the knob. The door opens slightly, then McCoy pushes it open wider with her foot and pivots, her Glock trained inside the room, and she sees what she expects.
He is standing at the opposite end of the bedroom, near what appears to be a walk-in closet and then a bathroom. A large bed separates the man and McCoy.
McCoy holds a hand up behind her, freezing the other agents in place, before returning her hand to the Glock trained on the suspect.
"Put the gun down, Doctor," she says.
Doctor Lomas, she knows, is a broken man, nothing like the proud figure she has seen in the company brochures. She stifles the instinct to think of him as a victim, though a victim, in many ways, is precisely what he is. It is hard to look at this man, barefoot in boxer shorts and a rumpled white T-shirt with stained armpits, with flyaway hair and an emaciated frame, and see the promising scientist he once was.
The doctor is crying uncontrollably, his chest heaving and tears flowing. Part of her job is seeing the worst in people, watching them feel, firsthand, the collapse of their lives. But she doesn't often confront a man holding a revolver to his temple.
Behind her, McCoy hears one of the agents on his radio, calling for paramedics. Others are searching the remainder of the house, kicking open doors to rooms and closets.
"I didn't know," Lomas manages through halting breaths, but of course that statement itself means that he did know, or at least suspected. "I didn't. I didn't know, I didn't ' "
"I believe you, Doctor," she says calmly. "Put the gun on the bed and let's just talk."
"They'll kill me," he says.
He's not talking about the federal agents swarming outside the bedroom. She knows it. Doctor Lomas seems to assume she knows it.
"There's no 'they' anymore, Doctor. 'They' are all in custody. You're the last one."
He doesn't seem to be listening. Fear of death does not seem to be foremost in his mind. No, what's causing the heaving of his chest, the trembling of the arm that tries to keep the gun pressed against his skull, is not what will happen now but what has already taken place.