I’m not crazy about his innate ability to LIE or, rather, perhaps how you lay it out in the beginning. I get what you need to do and why it will work (and come back to bite him in the ass), and I like that lots. However, making the ability innate and, initially, part of his personality may well ring unhappy chimes (it rang mine) for anyone having dealt with NPD–narcissistic personality disorder, which is a bona fide mental illness. We’ve had a diagnosed NPD Manic-Depressive Sociopath in the family for 40 years. They excel at being liars. It’s their hallmark. They’re also charming, flirtatious, usually very intelligent. They’re also bitter, mean and dangerous. They destroy anyone close to them (that they can’t use for their purposes). I get and like that he experienced regret at lying (NPDs don’t always, but they can, especially if that shame gets them attention) and that the military helped him change his ways. (NPDs *can* amend their behavior when it suits their purposes or for the proper rewards.) So just my personal two-cents. If you can find another way (excels at theatrics? Starred in school plays?) to give him that same talent without invoking the hallmarks of NPD, you might give it some thought. It makes him an unlikeable protagonist for me in the beginning, and I really like the rest of the set up, so I want to like him.
Thank you for the feedback, Linnea. This beginning was an add on. I’d originally started the chapter with the leaky faucet and him checking his watch. I entered a contest and some agent/editor told me beginning a story with my character looking at his watch wasn’t original and that I needed a hook. I researched skills needed for undercover work, and the ability to lie was one of the things I saw. That is where this came from, but it’s not really integral to who he is. I would say he’s probably more of a manipulator (i.e. uses charm to get his way) than a liar. So I’m curious. Do you think toning it down would help?