The story: Marian's career has taken an upward turn. She's been promoted
to Lieutenant, and she is now working out of Midtown South Precinct under
a captain she respects. She's not seen
Curt Holland for a couple of months,
ever since she decided to stay with the police instead of resigning to join
him in his newly-created private detective agency.
The first case to test Marian's ability in her new position is the murder
of a retired businessman on a crosstown bus. Although the bus was packed,
no one saw a thing -- not even the trained operative who was tailing the
victim and who, it turns out, works for Curt Holland. It takes only a
couple of meetings with Holland for Marian to realize the fire between
them is anything but dead. He's back in her life again.
The circumstances of the killing on the bus practically cry out "hired
killer!" While Marian looks for the hit man, her personal life grows a
mite complicated. Her friend Kelly Ingram, growing tired of performing
in The Apostrophe Thief every night, is being pestered by a
too-ardent female fan. And Marian's former partner, Ivan Malecki, is
getting married and wants Marian to be part of the wedding.
When the search for the hit man goes nowhere, Marian changes directions
and starts investigating the victim. Eventually she uncovers evidence
of a murder-for-hire ring in New York that has been operating right under
the nose of the police for years. The problem then becomes how to bust
up such a ring -- and how to find the man behind it.
The writing: A labor of love. What more can I say?
1. Drood Review of Mystery:
"It's Paul's misfortune to have written Kill Fee and The Fourth
Wall, certain to be called classics of the genre; anything else she
writes will be compared to them. Fare Play is a nearly perfect
example of the police procedural as classical mystery. The investigation
never obscures the mystery, as can happen in the procedural, because
technical detail never overwhelms the plot and the reader is given a
glimpse into the thoughts of the hit man and of the internal workings
of a murder-for-hire business, a perspective not shared by Larch. The
interplay of the voices is compelling and perfectly in unison, and the
solution arrives at an accelerated pace, unexpected and memorable....
Barbara Paul's Fare Play could become another classic of the genre."
2. The Houston Chronicle:
"This is a classic police procedural, giving the reader plenty of opportunity
to figure out the case along with the detectives....Paul's books have always
been appealing, but until Marian Larch she resisted creating a series.
Fare Play has some of the grit and realism of Ed McBain's 87th
Precinct mysteries but adds Paul's comfortable and light touch."
3. Kate's Mystery Books Newsletter:
"Barbara Paul has an admirably wicked mind when it comes to plotting and
prospecting for the evil that lurks in the hearts of men....Put in command
of the case, Marian Larch shows she is an imaginative and persistent
detective....Paul creates another classic mystery. Let's give her a
Jeweled Ebony Cat for her career of presenting us with madly eccentric
characters, bizarre plots and always, always, good writing."
"[Paul's] solidly constructed police procedurals...ought to find their way
into every mystery collection. Paul has a good feel for the way big-city
cop shops work and for the emotions, traumas, and frustrations that the men
and women in blue experience...This one rates high marks for plot, characters,
writing, and overall appeal."
5. Belles Lettres:
"True confessions time -- I wish I'd had the smarts to invent such a
perfect nineties heroine as Marian Larch...she gets as much flak from her
underlings...as from the various criminals she's nailing, but Lieutenant
Larch handles them all like a real pro."