One thing about writing a mystery series that strikes dread in my heart
thought of getting in a rut. My protagonist is a police detective and she
investigates crime: that can never change. So the trick is to find ways to
make each case distinctive, to show changes taking place in Marian's personal
life, to involve other characters deeply enough to avoid a single-note tone,
to look for anything that will make the book a little different.
Full Frontal Murder is very different.
For one thing, a pronounced erotic strain runs through this story, something
new to the series. For another, the writing of this book was tied into an
outside complicating matter, which I explain on the
Holland and Avon page. But the primary difference
is that in this book, Marian Larch is no longer able to keep her professional
and her private lives separate.
The story: A botched kidnapping attempt brings Marian in on an especially
ugly child-custody battle. The four-year-old boy who is the only one who
saw the kidnapper up close turns out to be the center of more than just a
marital dispute. Then people connected with the case start dying. Marian
is convinced neither parent is responsible, that a third person is
manipulating both of them for some purpose of his own.
But as Marian gets closer to identifying the killer, she unknowingly puts her
lover Curt Holland into danger. Holland is forced to suffer pain and
degradation on her account, and Marian needs all the strength she can summon
to cope with this vicious series of events. Her realization of what she could
lose changes her forever.
In short, this one is not for cozy-lovers.
For this novel I sent the showbiz folk to Hollywood -- Kelly Ingram, Ian
Cavanaugh, Abigail James -- to make the movie version of
The Apostrophe Thief. Mostly I needed to get them
out of the way; this seventh book in
the series has a large cast and a complex plot and there simply was no room
for them in the story. One of the three does return briefly toward the end,
"The usual clipped style of Paul's Marian Larch series provides complementary
understatement to a plot in which the NYPD detective's personal life gets
dangerously tangled in her professional one...Paul's linear procedural is
packed with detailed insights to the workings of a metropolitan department."