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M.R. Mackenzie Mailing List
1 September 2020
Newsletter Issue #4: The September Circular

Hi ,

A couple of months ago, when I wrote the previous issue of this newsletter, I mentioned that, ever since lockdown had started, time had seemed to move both incredibly quickly and not at all. Well, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It's hard to believe it's September already, with autumn just around the corner. On the one hand, I look back and wonder just where the last eight months went. On the other, a quick glance back through the previous issues of this newsletter, which I started back in March of this year, should give a pretty good indication of where -- for me at least -- it went. Since the start of the year, I've changed jobs, released a short story, redrafted two novels and, in the last two weeks, published one of those novels (about which more below). While, as I've noted before, the nature of my work and lifestyle means that life during lockdown hasn't been radically different from what preceded it, it's nonetheless reassuring to see that the last five and a half months of relative limbo haven't simply disappeared into the ether with nothing to show for them.

As always, I hope everyone's continuing to stay safe, and that those less naturally predisposed to an antisocial lifestyle than me are finding ways to cope with the present situation. And, with that preamble out of the way, I promose not to mention lockdown or the zombie apocalypse again (until the next instalment, at any rate). Now -- on with the show!

The Library Murders Reviews Round-Up
Broken glasses and a pool of blood (image © Shutterstock)

The Library Murders had its long-awaited launch on Thursday 20th September, accompanied by a week-long blog blitz spearheaded by Overview Media.

"A brilliantly paced thriller spiced with nerve-twisting tension, spine-tingling chills and intelligent wit that will keep readers on the edge of their seats throughout." -- Bookish Jottings

"A riveting tale that will entertain, thrill and delight you." -- Books Behind the Title

"The attention to detail through this book felt like a work of art. It flowed constantly and kept you on your toes." -- Literacy Ingulgence

"A joy to read -- an intelligent, often humorous, well crafted crime thriller which will keep you turning the pages." -- Suze Reviews

Just some of the overwhelmingly positive words that have been written about my little book (for the full roundup, see here). Needless to see, I've been bowled over by the tremendous response and am profoundly grateful to each and every one of the reviewers who took part -- not to mention Heather Fitt for putting the whole thing together.

If you haven't already got your hands on a copy of The Library Murders, you can pick it up in your format of choice via the links below. The Kindle version is currently available at the discounted early bird price of £1.99/$2.99, so if you're interested, I advise you not to dawdle!

- Buy on Kindle
- Buy paperback
- Buy signed copy

The Library Murders: Origin

Those of you who've been subscribed to the Mailing List for a while will know that I also published a free tie-in novella, The Library Murders: Origin, alongside the main novel itself. Available exclusively to people who've bought The Library Murders, this 15,000-word prequel recounts the events which led up to the fateful shooting in Thornhill Library from the point of view of the killer. They were originally intended to be part of the main novel, back when it was my intention to have the killer's identity known more or less from the outset. As the book continued to evolve, however, I came to realise that doing so robbed the much of most of its tension, and so I made the difficult decision to cut the chapters in question. I always felt, however, that they contained some of the strongest material in the whole novel, providing additional context for the killer's actions and presenting him as a more sympathetic figure than might initially appear to be the case. As such, I was glad to be able to repurpose them rather than simply consigning them to the dustbin.

If you've picked up a copy of The Library Murders, head to the end of the book to find your exclusive link to download your copy of The Library Murders: Origin free of charge.

Deleted Epilogue
Broken glasses (image © Shutterstock)

The "killer POV" chapters weren't the only material that was excised from The Library Murders prior to its release. I also wrote a brief epilogue from the point of view of Claire Metcalfe, the detective in charge of the hunt for the killer, designed to tie up a couple of loose ends and provide some insight into her home life. My beta readers ultimately convinced me that it wasn't necessary, but I reckon it might still be of interest -- particularly if, like me, you developed a fondness for the put-upon DCI Metcalfe.

(Don't be surprised, incidentally, if Metcalfe shows up at some point in a future novel of mine. The brief glimpses we got of her in The Library Murders intrigued me, and I'd definitely like to find out more about her.)

The epilogue will be published on my website at the end of next week, but I'm giving my Mailing List subscribers early access to it via the following link. Don't worry, it doesn't include any spoilers for the main novel.

Other Miscellany

On Saturday 15th of August I also took part in the Reading Between the Crime Book online festival, held over three days and featuring a range of crime authors from Scotland and further afield. I appeared alongisde Owen Mullen and Michael J. Malone in a panel on Glasgow crime fiction chaired by Caro Ramsay, and the resulting discussion was as lively and probing as you would expect. This was my second time being grilled by the formidable Ms Ramsay, who also chaired my first ever panel appearance -- at the Aye Write! Festival in March 2019, a lifetime ago when such events were still held in public places in front of large crowds -- though this time round I didn't have the advantage of knowing in advance what she was going to ask me! Check out the video of the event on either Facebook or YouTube and let me know how you think I fared!

Oh -- and check out this exclusive interview with The Library Murders' protagonist, Alyssa Clark, courtesy of Suze Reviews! This one’s in the same format as the one Suze did with Anna Scavolini, the protagonist of my main series, last year, and I’m pleased (I think) to report that Alyssa is every bit as frustrating an interviewee as Anna was!

On the Bookshelf
The Less Dead book cover

Finally, having blown my own trumpet for such an extended duration, it would be a little unseemly if I didn't take a moment to give a shout-out to one of my favourite reads of the last year.

There are a handful of authors for whom I'll drop whatever else I'm reading as soon as they publish a new book, and Denise Mina is one of them. It's hard to overstate how much of a debt I owe to her writing. Reading her Garnethill and Paddy Meehan trilogies in the mid-2000s completely transformed my impression of Glasgow crime fiction. Previously, I'd had a rather clichéd view of the genre as being comprised exclusively of dour police procedurals about middle-aged male detectives -- usually maverick loners with a fondness for the bottle and at least one failed marriage behind them. In Garnethill and its two sequels, I found a world instantly more recognisable and relatable to me, populated by characters with whom I had far more in common and who spoke like and shared the same interests as me and my friends, and who existed on the margins of society, forced by virtue of their circumstances and the disbelief or disinterest of conventional law enforcement to take matters into their own hands to solve a series of brutal crimes. It's safe to say that, without Garnethill, there would be no In the Silence -- a refrain that I'm sure will be echoed by a vast number of Scottish crime authors of my generation.

Suffice it to say, a new Denise Mina book is An Event for me, and I'm happy to report that her latest, The Less Dead, more than lived up to expectations. I've noted before that her previous novel, Conviction, was my favourite of hers since the Paddy Meehan trilogy, and I actually think The Less Dead might even edge it out for me. I'd go as far as to say that it's probably the closest thing tonally and thematically to the Garnethill trilogy that she's written since... well, the Garnethill trilogy -- albeit told from a slightly "older and wiser" viewpoint. It inhabits much of the same milieu, focusing on those let down by the system and eking out an existence on the margins of "respectable" society, but peppered with copious amounts of dark wit and wry observations about human frailties to prevent it from becoming overwhelmingly bleak. The novel's protagonist, Margo -- a GP who discovers that her birth mother was a sex worker murdered in the 80s and that the killer may still be out there -- is compelling in her own right, but I must confess that her larger-than-life best friend Lilah was the one who stole the show for me -- "Yoohoo!" (In fact, in terms of personality she reminded me in a lot of respects of one of my own characters, Zoe -- albeit a posher and considerably more dysfunctional version.)

The Less Dead left me with much to think about, and it's a book I suspect I'll revisit more than once in the coming years. In any event, if it wasn't already clear, it's one that I highly recommend.

That's All, Folks!

That's it for the Library Murders post-launch autopsy special. In the next issue, I'll talk a bit about what's next in terms of writing for me -- including one project you've heard a bit about already and another that's entirely new and which I'm looking forward to sharing more details on just as as soon as possible.

Until then, stay safe, and happy reading!

M.R. Mackenzie signature
M.R. Mackenzie

Unit 29574
PO Box 26965

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