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 a case with more than the average potential for headaches and sleepless nights--and plenty of danger....

"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 line."

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."


N.Y.: Scribner, 1992, ISBN 0-684-19380-9
N.Y.: Mystery Guild, 1992
London: Piatkus, 1992, ISBN 0-7499-0115-2
N.Y.: WorldWide, 1993, ISBN 0-373-26132-2
München: R. Piper Verlag [as Sie haben das Recht, die Aussage zu
], 1994, ISBN 3-492-15624-X
Anstey, Leicester: F. A. Thorpe, 1994, ISBN 0-7089-3098-0
Recorded Books, 1993, ISBN 1-55690-836-9

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Page created June 26, 1995; last updated October 30, 2000.