The story: An unprecedented shortage of sergeants in the NYPD splits
up the team of Sgt. Marian Larch and her partner. She and Ivan Malecki
are sent to separate precincts -- and Marian, unluckily, is assigned to
the Ninth in the Lower East Side, one of the roughest precincts in Manhattan.
Marian's private life has its own stresses as well. A love affair of
not-very-long duration is already on the rocks. And her friend Kelly
Ingram (The Renewable Virgin) is rehearsing for her first Broadway
role -- and is scared out of her skull. The play is called The Apostrophe
Thief and was written by Abigail James (The Fourth Wall).
Marian is wrapping up an investigation into the stabbing of a welfare
mother by a street gang of
teenaged girls when a high-profile case lands in her lap. Four corpses
are found in East River Park, handcuffed together, each shot through the
eye. The four men are employees of a laser technology firm that holds
government contracts, so the FBI horns in on the investigation.
To add to the stress, the two FBI agents working with Marian on the case are
personal enemies, for reasons that are only gradually revealed. On top of
this, Marian has to fight against being used as a pawn in an ambitious game
of departmental politics being played out in the NYPD.
All in all, You Have the Right To Remain Silent is the story of one
woman, a member of a rough profession in a rough town, doing her best to
cope with everything that's thrown at her. She risks her own career to
nail the killer of the four victims in the park -- a particularly ruthless
man who acknowledges nothing in the world beyond his own wants.
The writing: Complicated, since I was juggling so many different story
threads that had to be tied together in a plausible way. But immensely
satisfying, when they all came together. This is the first Marian Larch
book that goes into her private life in any detail. It also introduces
two new continuing characters, Detective Gloria Sanchez and Captain
DiFalco -- one friend and one enemy.
But it was one of the two FBI agents, Curt Holland, who seems to have
attracted the most attention -- so much so that I have given him his own
web page. Well, half a web page; he
shares it with a character named Avon from Blake's 7. The
page is titled, unsurprisingly, Holland and Avon;
the reason for linking the two characters is explained there.
1. Wilson Library Journal:
"A female gang's murder of a Latino mother is...not the type of thing
the national press would necessarily pick up on. But Paul makes her
readers comprehend this hauntingly tragic crime through the sorrow in
Larch's heart when she finally solves--that is to say, understands--it.
"The sergeant also has a media circus case to contend with. The
ritualistic shooting of four men...is a case with more than the
average potential for headaches and sleepless nights--and plenty of
"You Have the Right To Remain Silent is an exciting and entertaining
mystery. But the draw here is less the crackerjack plot than Paul's
weary and compassionate sleuth. Marian Larch is truly a servant of
justice. Her investigation takes the readers past newspaper headlines
and procedural details, beyond simple reading enjoyment, to a place
where we can actually feel some of the horror and regret that come
from witnessing a killing. More mysteries should do just that."
2. Prime Suspect:
"Barbara Paul is the most ingenious plotter in the mystery world today.
Although this is a good book, it is not because of her trademark quirky
plot, but because of interesting characters and a never-sluggish story
3. Indianapolis Star:
"Paul has a feel for the political undercurrents of a large police
force and deftly blends the difficult investigation with Marian's
complex private life. The characters in this mystery are well conceived
and drawn. Paul's pacing is even, the suspense finely drawn out."
4. Houston Post:
"Barbara Paul is a good writer, and Marian Larch is a good, believable
character who has about had her fill of the NYPD. Tense, tight, and
realistic. Marian and her precinct may someday come to rival Ed McBain's
87th Precinct in the procedural world."
5. United Press International:
"This cop story is a dandy--gritty, fast-paced, believable, humorous, and
sardonic...Larch shows us her exemplary form as one tough cop who knows
how to solve a mystery....Watch out, McBain, there's a Larch on the loose."