If you’re a UK reader, you’ll perhaps know that it’s 3.5 years since The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die came out in Britain, won a Dead Good Reader Award and hit the Kindle top 40. Time flies when you’re having fun with derring-do, criminals galore and more murderers than you can count in your troubled sleep. Well, I’m delighted to say that I get to be a debut all over again as The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die is released in the US and Canada. How cool is that? A whole continent of new readers get to discover George McKenzie’s fascinating academic world in both Amsterdam and Cambridge and her darkest family secrets. Above all, to these readers, her nail-biting, page-turning challenges, where she must help Van den Bergen track down a crazed murderer before more victims’ lives are brutally claimed, will be brand spanking new! And that twist…
The series will be released in the US and Canada – one title per month – over the coming six months. Daunting for me, as pre-launch prep and the launches themselves take an awfully big bite out of writing time. Great for readers though, as there won’t be the usual wait of six months, up to a year, to find out what happens next…
Whether you’re new to the series as a UK reader or as a reader from across the pond, the George McKenzie novels should resonate with you. All you need is an interest in the causes and effects of organised crime and a fascination with the dangerous types involved in it. Why? Well, the entire series has trafficking as its overarching theme – be it the movement of drugs, people, organs or weapons across international borders. It doesn’t get more criminal than trafficking, and it affects everyone!
In The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die, what starts out as an investigation of a suspected terrorist
attack, takes a detour down the cut-throat alleys of the criminal underworld, where sex and drugs are sometimes legitimately but often illegally for sale. In a place like Amsterdam, with its state-regulated red light district and coffee shops, the boundaries are fascinatingly blurred. As George helps to track down an apparent serial killer, we question which red-lit booths contain prostitutes who are trafficked from the Far East or Eastern Europe? Are the working girls there of their own volition? And how much of the Dutch-manufactured drug, ecstasy, not to mention the dazzling smorgasbord of cannabis varieties, end up being smuggled into the UK illegally?
I guess some American or Canadian readers might wonder how the George McKenzie thrillers could be pertinent to their experience, so many miles across the Atlantic. But the truth is, the US famously has its own problems with drugs coming into the country from South and Central America – issues which are tackled in George’s fourth outing, The Girl Who Had No Fear. Neither North American country is untouched by the movement of trafficked labour and sex-workers, coming from as far afield as Africa and the Far East, as well as good old Europe. Trans-national trafficking simply knows no boundaries. Where there’s a market and profit to be made, traffickers will travel. So too does the narrative in my The Girl Who… books, incorporating scenes set not just in the UK and the Netherlands, but also in the US, Cambodia, Maldives, Germany, Somalia, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Thailand… As a linguist and keen traveller myself, writing these five books has been a creative delight.
If deeper themes aren’t your thing, on a basic level, I penned The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die as a gripping serial killer thriller crossed with a police procedural. My aim was to create a heroine who would rival Lisbeth Salander, a cop who could give Nesbo’s Harry Hole a run for his money and a narrative that was reminiscent of The Silence of the Lambs, which I read frequently when honing my crime-fiction writing skills – Harris is a master in executing a story in the genre perfectly!
Only time will tell if US and Canadian crime-fiction fans grow to love the vivid world and fast-paced life of George McKenzie. Let’s see if she travels quite as well as those traffickers!
More information about the author can be found on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter @Marnie_Riches and find her on Facebook.