Meet Marian

For reasons I no longer remember, The Renewable Virgin was first published in England. Then Susanne Kirk picked it up for an American edition; Susanne and Scribner published all the Marian Larch books.

The story: Kelly Ingram is a rising star who has everything going for her -- great looks, a livewire personality, enough talent to get by on, a new TV series, and a new lover. She also has an agent and a producer who hate each other, but they still manage to work well enough together to keep Kelly's career moving in the right direction.

But then a friend is murdered, a harmless scriptwriter who should have been no threat to anyone. The scriptwriter's mother enters Kelly's life, a history professor named Fiona Benedict who dislikes everything the actor stands for. Mediating between them is Sgt. Marian Larch of the NYPD, assigned to investigate the murder.

What Marian turns up is a tale of ambition and envy and betrayal going back fifteen years. Kelly, Fiona, and Marian -- three women who have absolutely nothing in common except the act of murder that brings them together -- take turns telling the story, which ultimately demonstrates how friendship can blossom in even the unlikeliest of circumstances.

The writing: Tricky, as I needed not only three distinct voices to tell the tale but three distinct senses of humor as well -- that was the hard part. Oddly, it was Marian's that was the most difficult. Kelly's is a high-energy nonstop style that sees the humor in everything and laughs easily. Fiona's is just the opposite: a dry, understated humor judiciously placed. But Marian had to be somewhere between those two extremes. I finally settled on a pragmatic, both-feet-on-the-ground kind of humor that has stayed with her throughout the entire series.


Kansas City Star:
"This mystery has several things going for it: an improbable victim, uncommon use of multiple viewpoints, and a convoluted plot....The Renewable Virgin is a delightfully fast-paced mystery with three refreshing perspectives, vocabularies, and lifestyles."

The Columbia State Journal:
"The three women change their values during the pursuit of Benedict's murderer: beautiful Kelly has her feminist consciousness raised a little, Fiona loses her inhibitions in a horrifying way, and Marian is exposed to the glamour and rot of the television industry....With a wicked wit and a driving pace, Barbara Paul has written an intelligent mystery."

"The curious, tension-wrought relationships that inevitably develop among these three totally dissimilar women provide an added dimension."

The Oxford Times:
"Miss Paul writes entertainingly, and an author who can turn her final dramatic rescue scene into a nice piece of comedy is worth having."


London: Collins, 1984, ISBN 0-00-231734-6
N.Y.: Scribner, 1984, ISBN 0-684-18300-5
Boston: G. K. Hall, 1985, ISBN 0-8161-3888-5
N.Y.: Bantam, 1986, ISBN 0-553-26234-3
Paris: Gallimard [as Le portrait de l'artiste en tuer], 1987,
ISBN 2-07-049087-4
München: R. Piper Verlag [as Immer wieder Jungfrau], 1990,
ISBN 3-492-15544-8
London: Women's Press, 1990, ISBN 0-7043-4245-6

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Page created June 26, 1995; last updated October 29, 2000.