Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lawyers And Liars

Lawyer David Ellis burst onto the scene with a series of thrillers set in the legal world he obviously knows and savors. His debut, Line of Vision, won an Edgar Award for best first novel, and the two books that followed were well-reviewed and widely purchased.

Now, for his fourth effort, Ellis moves away from the familiar world of courtrooms and cop shops and into the dark jungle of terrorism. He also challenges himself and his readers by writing In the Company of Liars not only in the present tense but also working backward from the death of his lead character.

Allison Pagone is a writer who apparently takes her own life when her lawyer lover gets her involved in a terrorist plot and she becomes a suspect in his murder. The time device takes a few pages to get comfortable with, but then it becomes an exciting part of the whole illusion: How many chainsaws can Ellis juggle without doing himself and his book some serious damage?

Ellis keeps us in suspense and curious about Pagone, mostly by having us see her involvement in plots and crimes through the eyes of determined FBI agent Jane McCoy. There's also enough high-level corruption to keep a roomful of paranoid investigators busy.