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
"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."