Today I’m really excited to have Marnie Riches drop into the book review cafe for a grilling, and on publication day too. Marnie has just released her third book in the George McKenzie series – The Girl Who Walked In The Shadows, and it’s brilliant. You can read my 5 star review at the bottom of the page. If you love a good gritty crime thriller you may want to take a look at the two previous books The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die and The Girl Who Broke The Rules
The first instalment in Marnie Riches new crime thriller series – The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die was launched 2nd April 2015 to smoking reviews, critical acclaim and success as an Amazon top 100 bestseller. The second book in the series, The Girl Who Broke the Rules found its way into many bloggers’ top 5 and top 10 books of 2015. It was in the Amazon Suspense top 50 for many months, praised by some as “the best sequel for years” and “undoubtedly up there with the best”.
Hi Marnie welcome to the book review cafe, and thank you for stopping by to answer some questions about you and your books. Firstly I must say congratulations on writing such a fantastic series of books
Thanks so much, Lorraine. I appreciate readers investing in the series and am indebted to the bloggers who have really got behind George, Van den Bergen and me.
For those readers who haven’t yet heard of you or your book The Girl Who Walked In The Shadows can you provide us with an introduction?
Hi. I’m Marnie Riches and I’m the author of the George McKenzie series (sometimes dubbed as #TheGirlWho series, as I use that hashtag on Twitter). I’m a middle aged Mum of two, living in the North West. After spending twenty years as a professional fundraiser, mainly working for children’s charities and then doing up houses when my kids were very small (like a low rent Sarah Beeney), I feverishly threw myself into writing when the property market crashed in 2007. I had already written a novel when I was at university but it had just sat in the bottom of a wardrobe for 17 years. Believing I wanted writing to be a career that would last a lifetime, I dusted the manuscript off and started to rewrite it. I caught the bug. I’ve never looked back!
The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows is the third book in the George McKenzie series – Euro-noir crime thrillers set in London, Cambridge and Amsterdam in a similar vein to Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series. My main protagonist is the feisty Georgina, who is a criminologist attached to Cambridge University. Splitting her time between the ivory towers, her Aunty Sharon’s house in South East London and Amsterdam, George conducts studies in prisons whilst freelancing as a profiler for the Amsterdam police. Her partner in crime and silver-fox love interest is Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen. What a pair they make! When they’re not arguing, they’re racing against time across Europe, usually on a hunt for a serial killer. The books are dark and gritty. They do contain violence, some sex and swearing. But this is the world that George lives in and I think you’ll love her for it.
In The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows (which can be read as a standalone), George must help the Dutch police to track down a brutal and ingenious serial killer, dubbed Jack Frost. The entire continent is in the grip of an Arctic freeze, and our killer is using icicles and snow to despatch his victims without leaving any forensic trace. When George realises there might be a link to a missing persons’ case where two toddlers were abducted from their garden in the outskirts of Amsterdam, she embarks on a journey through the dark heart of Europe, rubbing shoulders with the Roma, trans-national people traffickers and paedophiles. Can she solve two cases before Jack Frost finds her?
What inspired you to write The Girl Who series?
I have always enjoyed reading crime thrillers. Once I had read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, I was so taken with Lisbeth Salander that I knew I wanted to write something similar but very much in my own style. Having studied Dutch and German at University, it made sense to set the series in Amsterdam, initially, taking in a little Heidelberg, Berlin and a healthy dose of London and Cambridge. These are places I’m familiar with and I adore fiction set in different countries. I didn’t want to write a straight police procedural. It had to contain high-octane thrills and a main character who is a little different. So, George is young, mixed race and a criminologist, rather than a police officer. Being a fan of Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs and Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole books, I knew I would have to make my killers quirky with intriguing back stories to really work. So, there you go. I looked to my literary idols and tried to write something as good.
You wrote the Time-hunters Series for children, what made you decide to write a crime series?
I absolutely adored writing for children. My favourite bit was the humour. I love to inject a bit of a laugh into a story and it’s essential in children’s fiction. But I did find that I wanted to write something darker and much more complex. I really wanted to test my writing skills to see if I could pull off a multi-layered plot containing some real twists and turns. Crime fiction was the perfect avenue for me to go down.
How do you research material for your book?
If I need to know about a career path, such as George’s pursuit of becoming a criminologist, I try to interview the real deal. I was very lucky to be introduced to two criminologists from Manchester University. They were fascinating women! If I need to find out about the technicalities of murder, as with most things, I rely on Google. What I tend to do is seek out academic articles to learn about things like trafficking or medical matters. They’re more reliable and in depth than generalist stuff you might read in the newspapers. I have visited pretty much every country I write about – I lived in London, Cambridge and the Netherlands and visited Germany frequently, as my best friend used to live there. I top up my own reminiscences with a little google street view!
Do you write an outline before you start writing?
Yes. I prepare a two to six page outline, so I know where I’m going…roughly!
How long did it take to get your first book published?
I wrote seriously for a couple of years as a student. I took up writing again in 2007 and got my first agent very quickly, although had no joy in getting my first middle grade book published. Time-Hunters (2013-2014) was a commission as a jobbing writer, so that was slightly different. The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die was completed in 2010 but wasn’t published until 2015! If you add together all the years I’ve been writing seriously, I’ve put in about a decade’s practice!
What is your least favourite part of the writing/publishing process?
I’m really not a fan of edits. I try to turn in manuscripts that are as clean as possible, simply because I detest editing. That’s not to say that editing isn’t very important. It is. It can turn an average book into a great book.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
The paranoia that comes from wondering if your book will sell and if it will be well received.
When And Where do you write?
I write in my office during the day, mainly, but sometimes deep into the night too, as I pen two books per year and have tight turnarounds. I sit at the same table I used to do my homework at as a small child – my mother’s old pine dining table. It’s the best desk in the world.
What authors do you like to read in your spare time?
I love Joshua Ferris and Lionel Shriver. I love many British crime writers – most of whom I’ve discovered only in the last year through socialising with my contemporaries. They’re a cracking bunch. I enjoy a good Nesbo. I have started to read outside of the genre a lot, though. If you only read crime after writing crime all day long, it’s a bit like being a plumber and coming home to solder pipes for the evening.
What book are you reading now?
Jihadi by Yusuf Toropov. I’ve just finished Ruby Wax’s book on mindfulness too. That was a good read.
Is this going to be the last in The Girl Series? I put on my sad face for this question
Aw, don’t be sad. I might have a little news to cheer you up soon…but you’ll have to watch this space for now.
Are you able to tell us anything about your next book?
I’m writing something new at the moment but again, I can’t tell you what it is, I’m afraid until my publisher has made an announcement. Let’s just say it is PACKED full of baddies, intrigue, sex and violence but that’s all counterbalanced with some poignant relationship stuff, some heart-rending back stories and a GREAT location. A whodunit with a real difference. And this time, you’ll be able to turn those pages for real!
Thank you Marnie for stopping by the book review café. It’s been great learning more about you and how The Girl who series came about, and good luck with The Girl Who Walked In The Shadows (not that you need it by the way), and I can’t wait to see what you produce next.
About Marnie Riches
Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in Manchester, aptly within sight of the dreaming spires of Strangeways prison. She swapped those for the spires of Cambridge University, gaining a Masters degree in Modern & Medieval Dutch and German. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist, a property developer and professional fundraiser. In her spare time, she likes to run, renovate houses and paint. Oh, and drinking. She likes a drink. And eating. She likes that too. Especially in exotic destinations.
Having authored the first six books of HarperCollins Children’sTime-Hunters series, her George McKenzie crime thrillers for adults were inspired, in part, by her own youth and time spent in The Netherlands as a student. She also writes contemporary women’s fiction.
Photograph by Phil Tragen
This is the third book in the Georgina MacKenzie series, and although you could read it as a standalone I would recommend you read The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die and The Girl Who Broke The Rules first, as the characters evolve over the three books and they are really worth reading if you love a good crime thriller with plenty of grit.
The story picks up two years after The Girl Who Broke The Rules and Georgie is back, feisty and outspoken as ever, her relationship with Chief Inspector Paul Van den Bergen continues even though they are barely on speaking terms! With Europe in the grips of an extreme Arctic blast, there’s a new killer on the loose named Jack Frost whose weapon of choice is a razor sharp icicle (I kid you not). As George and Paul begin to investigate, they realise the case could be connected to a cold missing person’s case of Two abducted children. As the hunt for Jack Frost gains momentum George and Van Den Bergen find themselves trawling the toughest neighbourhoods in Europe, where refugees and Roma gypsies scratch a living on the edge of society where they find themselves thrown into the dark, violent world of a trans-national trafficking ring,
I love the way George has evolved as a character over the three books, she sometime comes across as immature and mouthy, she’s got attitude and she certainly knows how to “kick ass” when the need arises. Her relationship with Van Den Bergen adds a touch of humour to a very dark tale, as George becomes frustrated with his reluctance to be part of her life and his reasons for keeping her at arms length. As the investigation gains momentum so do the twist and turns, the novel is well paced with multiple threads that all fit together perfectly come the last chapter.
This is a very tense crime thriller that covers many different issues, murder, pedophillia, and trafficking, so at times makes for a disturbing and very dark read. Marnie Riches writes in a way that captures the reader from the first chapter, it’s very well crafted, gritty and realistic. I would highly recommend The Girl Who Walked In The Shadows to lovers of crime fiction. One small negative this book is billed as the last in the series, I hope this isn’t the case, as I would love to read more books about George
5☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️out of 5
Print Length: 378 pages
Publisher: Maze (31 Mar. 2016)