Sep 27, 2015

Dutch Days Interview & Giveaway: The Girl Who Broke the Rules by Marnie Riches

1) Could you tell a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in a rough area in Manchester, England. Languages were always something I enjoyed and was good at, so I worked hard at school to bag a place at Cambridge University, where I gained a Masters degree in modern and medieval German & Dutch. I have been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist, a property developer and a professional fundraiser. Previously a children's author, now, I write crime and contemporary women's fiction. 

I’m the author of the award-winning, “The Girl Who Wouldn't Die” - the first instalment of the George McKenzie crime thriller series, published by Avon/HarperCollins. My follow-up is – “The Girl Who Broke the Rules” -. 

In my spare time, I like to run, travel, enjoy fine food and drink, paint portraits, collect gorgeous shoes I rarely wear and renovate old houses. I also adore flowers.

2) Why have you chosen Amsterdam as the place to set most of your story?

Having spent a year living in Utrecht as part of my degree course, I still harbour a love of the Dutch way of living and Dutch culture. Utrecht is a wonderful, picturesque city and I made a lot of friends during the year. I am, however, a big city girl, at heart. On my visits to Amsterdam, I fell in love with the architecture, the romance of the canals and the history, as much as the sleaze and intrigue of the red-light-district. I was left with an undimmed fascination for the stories that the girls in the booths must be able to tell about their lives.

3) Your story is very international, what's the reason behind that? / How did you get the idea for the story?

I have travelled a lot in my life – throughout much of Europe and to the Far East, the Americas, North Africa and the Indian Ocean too. There is nothing more satisfying than immersing yourself in new cultures; observing people going about their humdrum lives but in very different surrounds. I guess, as a linguist, I was therefore always going to write a story set in a variety of interesting places. The Dutch connection is an obvious one. But I wrote about Heidelberg in “The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die” because my best friend lived there for eight years, where I visited her frequently. I write about Cambridge, because I went to university there. In “The Girl Who Broke the Rules”, I also write about Manhattan, Berlin and Cambodia. London features heavily in the series, as it’s a fascinating world city. I enjoyed living and working in South East London for many years. Principally, though, crime knows no borders. I can’t see how you can write a series that touches on trans-national trafficking without setting the books in a variety of locations.

4) Why do you think George and van den Bergen make such a great duo?

George is headstrong and energetic. She solves problems using an academic’s logic but also has tremendously fine-tuned instincts and an understanding of what makes people tick. Because of her youth, she is more daring than a middle aged policeman would be, and of course, she has none of the procedural constraints of being a member of the police force – as long as she doesn’t get found out, she can break the law to track a criminal! Van den Bergen, on the other hand, is burdened by the protocol of being a senior inspector. A seasoned detective, he is answerable to his superiors and politicians. His are the responsibilities of a father and the sensibilities of a worldly wise, middle-aged man, suffering from health anxiety, loneliness and acute cynicism. George and van den Bergen are an unlikely duo, but their connection as people is at the most basic, instinctive level. They both believe in the triumph of good and justice over evil and criminality. To me, they are the ideal crime-busting duo.

5) Did you have to do a lot of research for this book?

All of my books take a tremendous amount of research - not least, extensive travel! I spend a good chunk of my life watching how people behave and listening to the rhythms of their speech. I’ve spent decades learning foreign languages! If George knows an academic subject well, I strive to get a detailed understanding that would enable me to pass muster with the academics who work in the field. So, I have a good grounding in racial politics. I’m learning more and more about criminology and I already have studied sexual politics, feminism, psychoanalysis and pornography in the course of my own undergraduate degree (Cambridge has a very flexible course!). It is always my intention to portray the murders in my books in an innovative but medically accurate way, so I do a lot of medical research - particularly reading up on post-mortem terminology. A huge amount was needed for “The Girl Who Broke the Rules”. If you read the book, you’ll understand why. But that’s okay, because I did want to be a forensic pathologist when I was younger and take a keen lay-person’s interest in medical matters.

6) George is brave and bold, I like that about her. What do you like most about her character?

I like the fact that George is not afraid to speak her mind. She’s brilliant at losing her temper and saying all the things I’d like to say! She really doesn’t give a shit about what other people think...unless she cares for them.

7) The Girl Who Wouldn't Die is part of a series, did you know straight away that you were going to write more about these main characters?

It certainly was my hope to write more about George and van den Bergen. In “The Girl Who Broke the Rules”, we are introduced to more of George’s family. You’ll meet her Aunty Sharon, who is one of my all time favourite characters! We gain a deeper understanding of George and van den Bergen too.

8) What's your favourite place in Amsterdam?

Definitely the red-light-district. It’s like watching a really entertaining and lurid TV documentary! I love it.

9) What are your three favourite international reads?

My three favourites are Das Urteil by Franz Kafka, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and The Leopard by Jo Nesbo.

10) Your book is filled with adrenaline, but intelligence is also an important part of the story, why have you chosen that combination?

I have to write the books that I would most like to read, so action has to be coupled with an intelligent understanding of why people behave in a certain way. I’m interested in how people’s backstory informs their actions in later life. I would never want to write a book that was all brawn and no brain.

11) Could you tell my readers a little bit about what will happen next in the series?

Here’s the blurb. It’s more succinct if I use that:

“When the mutilated bodies of two sex-workers are found in Amsterdam, Chief Inspector van den Bergen must find a brutal murderer before the red-light-district erupts into panic.
Georgina McKenzie is conducting research into pornography among the UK’s most violent sex-offenders but once van den Bergen calls on her criminology expertise, she is only too happy to come running.
The rising death toll forces George and van den Bergen to navigate the labyrinthine worlds of Soho strip-club sleaze and trans-national human trafficking. And with the case growing ever more complicated, George must walk the halls of Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, seeking advice from the brilliant serial murderer, Dr. Silas Holm...”
This book should really appeal to fans of Larsson and Nesbo, but also Thomas Harris/Hannibal Lecter. Silas Holm is my homage to Lecter. I hope I’ve come up with a really fascinating puzzle, this time – delving even deeper into the worlds of sleaze and organised crime! See what you think!


Leave a comment for a chance to win kindle copies of The Girl Who Wouldn't Die and The Girl Who Broke the Rules, 4 winners. Good luck!


  1. It's true that travel makes your stories fascinating. The interview is lovley and I am sure as Marnie says, travel does help broaden your horizons and there are so many stories to uncover, discover amazing people in the most unexpected places. I also like the fact that authors , like Marnie here says she likes to write what she would love to read as a reader. Always helps the audience to think like that. Great interview Ladies.

  2. Thanks for the chance! They sound awesome!

  3. I'm so looking forward to reading these books. And Amsterdam - oh I have wanted to visit. Maybe through the books I can visualize myself there.

  4. what a brilliant interview..marnie sounds a very interesting lady! would love copies of these books, they are just my cup of tea!

  5. The Q&A was great fun to do, Suze. Thanks for having me. Marnie x

  6. I enjoyed the interview, continue to enjoy your travel...

  7. Very cool way to learn about this book series! I love books like these, with strong female characters solving crimes in foreign (to me) countries. I'd love to win!

  8. Great post, Suze!! This series sounds really interesting!! Thanks for the chance.

  9. new author to me

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  10. Can't wait to read these marvelous-covered books!

  11. A great interview thank you. Both books look amazing.


  12. Thanks for this interview and giveaway. I'd really love to win these books :D

  13. Well written review, feels like I've read it myself but without the spoilers!

    Great interview, Marnie has such interesting stories to tell, I could chat with her for hours.

    My favourite genre of books is Crime/Thrillers - These books sound amazing, great well written storylines (I've checked out other reviews too)
    Definitely on my to read list... Thanks Suze

  14. Books are never too much, I would love to read these:)

  15. These books sounds absolutely great! Thank you so much for the chance to read them Xo

  16. These sound like great reads!!
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  17. my sister would like these

  18. Thanks so much for sharing! These books sound so freaking amazing!

  19. I really enjoyed your Q&A - I liked your answers and you seem interesting. I think it is great that you have traveled so much too! Your books sound great and I think I would like George very much!

    Always looking for my next fall read - thanks. A good one to curl up with.

  21. Thank you for the review. I'm always looking for recommendations as I'll pretty much read any genre - which makes it very hard to pick what to read!

  22. Both books sound good. I enjoyed the review. Will be adding to my to read list.

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