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Cruel Summer extract

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It’s finally here! Today sees the launch of my second novel, CRUEL SUMMER — sequel to last year’s highly-praised IN THE SILENCE and the second instalment in a project trilogy of mystery thrillers set in Glasgow. eBook editions are now available to download from Amazon, Apple Books and directly from myself via Gumroad, and paperbacks are available from Amazon as well if you’d prefer a physical copy to hold in your hands. Signed paperbacks will hopefully be available via Gumroad within the next week or so; stay tuned for further details.

When I finished writing In the Silence, I knew I’d lobbed a grenade slap bang into the middle of my characters’ lives and that things would never be the same for them again. In most mystery series, the individual books are self-contained, with the detective protagonist moving onto the next case, the events of the previous novel only referenced fleetingly, if at all. But I knew I wanted to do things differently. I wanted to explore the aftermath. What does being at the centre of a murder spree do to a person? How do you pick up the pieces and carry on after such a life-changing experience?

Cruel Summer (cover)Click here to order on AmazonGet it on on Apple Books

Fairly quickly, I realised that the person most profoundly affected by the after-effects of In the Silence was not that novel’s protagonist, Anna Scavolini, but rather her larger-than-life best friend, Zoe Callahan. I’ll choose my words carefully to avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say that Anna, in theory, would be able to move on, and was even able to achieve some form of catharsis through solving the mystery and facing down the killer. But for Zoe, the events that unfolded in the bell-tower at the end of In the Silence were not a climax but rather an inciting incident which completely turned her life on its head.

With Zoe, I wanted to capture the conflicted emotions she feels as a result of the revelations at the end of In the Silence, coupled with a sense of the general malaise and purposelessness of the generation to which she belongs; a generation for which many of the certainties enjoyed by the previous one — stable employment, a home, the social contract as a whole — are a distant dream. So I wrote Cruel Summer as the story of someone searching for both a purpose and an identity. Here is someone in her early thirties who is very much a member of the precariat — underemployed and drifting from one unfulfilling job to another, armed with a degree that has failed to equip her for the current market — while simultaneously struggling with both a sexual identity she doesn’t fully understand and a gnawing feeling that she bears some responsibility for the atrocities of In the Silence. As a result, when she inadvertently becomes mixed up in a case which echoes that of the previous novel while still being very different, she latches onto it as a way of giving her life meaning, turning detective like Anna before her but approaching the investigation in her own, uniquely Zoe fashion.

In the Silence was very consciously constructed as a murder-mystery in the classic whodunit tradition, but Cruel Summer is a different beast altogether. While there’s violence a-plenty and I can promise at least one corpse before the book is over, I’ve written this one more in the vein of a crime thriller with political overtones than a body count mystery. The main villain this time round is known from the start: Dominic Ryland, a charismatic politician who has emerged as the favourite to lead his party, accused of assaulting a prostitute — Zoe’s neighbour Jasmine. But there’s more to Ryland than meets the eye, and, when Jasmine is leant on to drop her accusation, it becomes clear that someone with powerful connections is pulling Ryland’s strings… and pulling out all the stops to ensure that he wins the coveted leadership. Armed with little more than a burning desire to see justice done, Zoe sets out on a one-woman crusade to bring Ryland down, little realising the trouble she’s creating for herself — and the people she cares about.

Writing Cruel Summer was a very rewarding experience, giving me an opportunity to delve deeper into Zoe’s psyche and make a character who was painted in fairly broad strokes in the previous novel more three-dimensional. It’s certainly provided me with an opportunity to put some familiar characters into unfamiliar situations, and I think people who enjoyed In the Silence will be excited to see some of their old favourites in a different context, while those who haven’t read the previous instalment have an opportunity to come in fresh with a very different protagonist. To use a hoary old cliché, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Once you’ve read it, be sure to let me know what you think!


Reviews

A massive thanks to everyone who has reviewed Cruel Summer so far and lavished such praise on it. I’ll be collating reviews as they continue to appear. For now, though, here’s a selection of the ones that are out there in the wild:

A fast-moving thriller … every bit as accomplished as its predecessor. … If Mackenzie can only bring off the third part of the trilogy with the panache of the first two, this will be a particularly memorable sequence of books — and hopefully will bring a talented novelist the recognition he deserves.

— Barry Forshaw, Crime Time

In the Silence was a fine addition to the Tartan Noir genre. Cruel Summer sees [Mackenzie] ahead of the field.

— Mark Cunliffe, The Geek Show

Cruel Summer takes no prisoners in its examination of the social and political implications of crime and justice, but it does so in a manner that it is rich in humour, character observations and location detail and totally compelling as a crime thriller. ★★★★

— Noel Megahey, The Digital Fix

Skilfully crafted and beautifully written, this is a gripping read full of suspense and tension. ★★★★★

Grace J Reviewerlady

I’m interested to see where the story goes from here and will definitely be looking out for the next books in the series. If this book is any indication, it’s only going to get better and better! ★★★★★

— Ashley Gillan, (e)Book Nerd

If you’ve read and enjoyed Cruel Summer, why not leave a review on Amazon, Apple Books and/or Goodreads? Doing so helps me immensely as it raises the book’s profile, allowing more people to discover it and bringing some much-appreciated cash my way, allowing me to continue to do this writing thing.


Help spread the word

Cruel Summer doesn’t have the weight of a major publisher behind it, so I’m going to need your help to get the word out. Yes, you! That means you. Here’s how you can help:

Buy a copy

Goes without saying! Every copy sold helps increase the book’s visibility on the online stores where it’s available, and in so doing helps it reach a bigger audience. And, naturally, the money that comes to me will help ensure that I can keep writing more books.

Write a review

If you enjoy Cruel Summer, a positive review on your site of choice will be tremendously helpful — especially if it’s on one of the online stores that sells it. Even just a sentence or a few words saying you liked it is a big help.

Tell people!

Tweet about Cruel Summer! Blog about it! Post on Facebook about it! Tell your friends about it! Spread the word about its existence far and wide!

Cruel Summer (cover)Click here to order on AmazonGet it on on Apple Books


BluCaps: Hannibal

Click here to order on Amazon

  • Label: Kino Lorber
  • Disc Locality: USA
  • Region: A
  • Codec: AVC
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Source Format: 35mm (spherical)

Cruel Summer extract

Saturday 11 May, 2019 16:32

With just over two weeks to go until Cruel Summer launches, I’ve posted an exclusive preview, consisting of the prologue and an extract from Chapter 3.

Cruel Summer (cover)

Read it now!


Fancy an advance review copy of Cruel Summer? They’re now available through Booksprout. In exchange for a review, a mobi, epub of pdf copy of the novel is yours to keep!

Zoe Callahan is having the summer from hell… and it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

She’s stuck in a dead-end job, her relationship is going nowhere and the memory of the Kelvingrove Park Murders three years ago continues to cast a long shadow over every aspect of her life.

When a prostitute is brutally assaulted by Dominic Ryland, a rising political star with a suspiciously spotless personal reputation, Zoe leaps at the chance to embroil herself in a noble cause and sets out on a one-woman crusade to bring Ryland to justice.

But in doing so, she quickly finds herself on the wrong side of some very dangerous people - people who have reputations to protect and who would think nothing of silencing Zoe by any means necessary.

An explosive thriller set against the backdrop of a sweltering heatwave, Cruel Summer is the sequel to M.R. Mackenzie’s critically acclaimed debut In the Silence and the second instalment in the Kelvingrove Park Trilogy.

Cruel Summer (cover)


The Loveless

The Loveless

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They’re going nowhere… fast!

The United States, late 1950s. A time of generational conflict, of immense social change, of bold fashions and toe-tapping music — just some of the elements that collide in thrilling fashion in The Loveless, the feature debut of both its star, Willem Dafoe (To Live and Die in LA), and its directors, Monty Montgomery (producer, David Lynch’s Wild at Heart) and future Academy Award®-winner Kathryn Bigelow (Near Dark, Detroit).

A motorcycle gang roars into a small southern town en route to the Daytona races, unnerving and angering the locals with their standoffish attitude and disrespect for social niceties. When one of their number, the charismatic Vance (Dafoe), hooks up with sportscar-driving Telena (Marin Kanter, Endangered Species), he incurs the wrath of the girl’s father, setting the gang on a collision course with the rest of the town as simmering tensions boil over into violent retribution.

Raw, angry and honest, The Loveless evokes, with unflinching clarity, both an attitude and a bygone era, exploring the tensions between two very different Americas — now fully restored and presented in high definition for the first time in this feature-packed new edition from Arrow Video!

Special Edition Contents:

  • Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative by Arrow Films, approved by co-writer/co-director Monty Montgomery and director of photography Doyle Smith
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original lossless mono audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • New audio commentary with co-writer/co-director Monty Montgomery, moderated by Elijah Drenner
  • No Man’s Friend Today: Making The Loveless, new video interviews with actors Willem Dafoe, Marin Kanter, Robert Gordon, Phillip Kimbrough and Lawrence Matarese
  • U.S. 17: Shooting The Loveless, new video interviews with producers Grafton Nunes and A. Kitman Ho
  • Chrome and Hot Leather: The Look of The Loveless, new interviews with production designer Lilly Kilvert and director of photography Doyle Smith
  • Relentless, new audio interview with musician Eddy Dixon
  • Extensive image gallery, including on-set photographs, storyboards and original production documentation
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Peter Stanfield


The release date for Cruel Summer, the sequel to the critically acclaimed In the Silence, has been confirmed as 28th May 2019. Additionally, the Kindle edition is now available for pre-order from Amazon from the following link:

Click here to order on Amazon

Due to the way Amazon’s KDP programme works, pre-order links for physical copies of self-published titles aren’t possible. If you want to pick up a paperback edition, you’ll need to wait until the 28th May.

Unlike In the Silence, which was a Kindle exclusive, I’m planning to release Cruel Summer on a number of other eBook plaforms. Stay tuned for further details!

Cruel Summer (cover)


It’s been a long time coming, but the time has finally come to unveil the blurb and cover art for Cruel Summer, my upcoming second novel and sequel to In the Silence.

Zoe Callahan is having the summer from hell… and it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

She’s stuck in a dead-end job, her relationship is going nowhere and the memory of the Kelvingrove Park Murders three years ago continues to cast a long shadow over every aspect of her life.

When a prostitute is brutally assaulted by Dominic Ryland, a rising political star with a suspiciously spotless personal reputation, Zoe leaps at the chance to embroil herself in a noble cause and sets out on a one-woman crusade to bring Ryland to justice.

But in doing so, she quickly finds herself on the wrong side of some very dangerous people - people who have reputations to protect and who would think nothing of silencing Zoe by any means necessary.

An explosive thriller set against the backdrop of a sweltering heatwave, Cruel Summer is the sequel to M.R. Mackenzie’s critically acclaimed debut In the Silence and the second instalment in the Kelvingrove Park Trilogy.

Cruel Summer (cover)

For the cover art, I knew I wanted something moody and evocative, as well as something that captured something of the city of Glasgow — arguably as much a character as Zoe, Anna or anyone else. I eventually settled on the McLennan Arch on Glasgow Green — a key location in the novel whose significance only becomes clear very late in the game. The result, I think, evokes something of the same mood as the cover art for titles by the likes of Peter James and Ian Rankin while also having a personality of its own.

Stay tuned for more information, including a concrete release date, an extract from the new book and more, very soon… and be sure to bookmark the newly launched Cruel Summer homepage!


BluCaps: Mandy

Click here to order on Amazon

  • Label: Universal
  • Disc Locality: Sweden/Denmark/Norway/Finland
  • Region: ABC
  • Codec: AVC
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Source Format: ARRIRAW 2.8K (Panavision)/2K DI

Nightfall

Nightfall

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During his long and varied career, Jacques Tourneur (The Comedy of Terrors, Cat People) tackled a breadth of genres on both sides of the Atlantic. With 1956’s Nightfall, he returns to the noir trappings he tackled so successfully with Out of the Past for a tale of deception, intrigue and paranoia.

Adapted from the novel by prolific crime fiction author James Goodis (Dark Passage), Nightfall is the story of Jim Vanning (Aldo Ray, The Violent Ones, The Naked and the Dead), an innocent man wrongly accused of murder. On the same night he has a chance encounter in a bar with glamorous model Marie (Anne Bancroft, The Graduate), the hoods he’s spent the past year running from catch up with him, determined to recover the money they believe he stole from them. Pursued by both the hoods and law enforcement, Vanning and Marie go on the lam, leading to a desperate chase that takes them from the streets of Los Angeles to the snowy peaks of Wyoming.

Eschewing both the big names associated with the genre and its familiar urban locales, and featuring striking monochromatic photography by Oscar-winner Burnett Guffey (From Here to Eternity), Nightfall is a gripping and inventive late-period noir which shows that, even in its twilight years, the genre still had room for innovation.

Special Edition Contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation, restored from original film elements
  • Original lossless mono soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • New audio commentary by author and critic Bryan Reesman
  • White and Black, a new video appreciation of Nightfall by film historian Philip Kemp
  • Do I Look Like a Married Man?, a new video essay on the themes of Nightfall by author and critic Kat Ellinger
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Amy Simmons


Def-Con 4

Def-Con 4

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THE LAST DEFENCE. THE LAST HOPE. THE BATTLE FOR THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD HAS BEGUN.

In the 1980s, faced with the demise of the drive-in and the rise of the multiplex, New World Pictures - the independent studio established by Roger Corman - increasingly relied on smaller-scale productions, made with an eye to the cable TV and home video markets. Among these was Def-Con 4, an example of so-called “Canuxploitation” or Canadian exploitation cinema, riding on the coat-tails of the boom in post-apocalyptic disaster movies that began in the previous decade.

Two months after the planet is ravaged by nuclear war, astronauts Howe (Tim Choate), Jordan (Kate Lynch, The Twilight Zone) and Walker (John Walsch, Blow Out) are forced to return to earth - now an apocalyptic wasteland consumed by radiation and roamed by cannibal gangs. Forced into desperate pacts with unlikely allies, among them eccentric survivalist Vinny (Maury Chaykin, WarGames), the astronauts must draw on all their resourcefulness to survive this brave new world.

Bearing more than a passing resemblance to George Miller’s Ozploitation classic Mad Max, Def-Con 4 is an inventive and action-packed low budget sci-fi romp, elevated by a pounding score by New World stalwart Christopher Young (Hellraiser) and making its UK High Definition debut with this brand new restoration from Arrow Video.

Special Edition Contents:

  • Brand new 2K restoration from the original 35mm interpositive
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original lossless mono soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brave New World, a new video interview with New World Pictures editor Michael Spence
  • Nemesis Descending, a new video interview with composer Christopher Young
  • Exploring the New World, a new video interview with author Chris Poggiali on the history and legacy of New World Pictures
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Neil Mitchell


Double Face

Double Face

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In the post-war years, the proliferation of transnational European co-productions gave rise to a cross-pollination of genres, with the same films sold in different markets as belonging to different movements. Among these, Riccardo Freda (I vampiri, The Horrible Dr. Hichock)’s Double Face was marketed in West Germany as an Edgar Wallace ‘krimi’, while in Italy it was sold as a giallo in the tradition of Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace, combining elements from both genres for a unique and unforgettable viewing experience.

When wealthy businessman John Alexander (the legendary Klaus Kinski, giving an atypically restrained performance)’s unfaithful wife Helen (Margaret Lee, Circus of Fear) dies in a car crash, it initially looks like a freak accident. However, the plot thickens when evidence arises suggesting that the car was tampered with prior to the crash. And John’s entire perception of reality is thrown into doubt when he discovers a recently-shot pornographic movie which appears to feature Helen - suggesting that she is in fact alive and playing an elaborate mind game on him…

Psychological, psychedelic, and at times just plain psychotic, Double Face stands as one of the most engaging and enjoyable films in Freda’s lengthy and diverse career - a densely-plotted, visually-stunning giallo that evokes much of the same ambience of paranoia and decadence as such classics of the genre as One on Top of the Other and A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin.

Special Edition Contents:

  • Brand new 2K restoration of the full-length Italian version of the film from the original 35mm camera negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Uncompressed mono 1.0 LPCM audio
  • Original English and Italian soundtracks, titles and credits
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • New audio commentary by author and critic Tim Lucas
  • Seven Notes for a Murderer, a new video interview with composer Nora Orlandi
  • The Many Faces of Nora Orlandi, a new appreciation of the varied career of the film’s composer by musician and soundtrack collector Lovely Jon
  • The Terrifying Dr. Freda, a new video essay on Riccardo Freda’s gialli by author and critic Amy Simmons
  • Extensive image gallery from the collection of Christian Ostermeier, including the original German pressbook and lobby cards, and the complete Italian cineromanzo adaptation
  • Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Neil Mitchell


Yakuza Law

Yakuza Law

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Director Teruo Ishii (Blind Woman’s Curse, Horrors of Malformed Men), the Godfather of J-sploitation, presents Yakuza Law (AKA Yakuza’s Law: Lynching) - a gruelling anthology of torture, spanning three district periods of Japanese history and bringing to the screen some of the most brutal methods of torment ever devised.

In this deep dive into the world of the Yakuza, meet the violent men who rule the Japanese underworld and the cruel punishments inflicted on those who transgress them. The carnage begins in the Edo Period with a violent tale of samurai vengeance starring Bunta Sugawara (Battles Without Honour and Humanity), before shifting to the Meiji Period as the exiled Ogata (Minoru Oki, Shogun Assassin) returns to face punishment for his past transgressions… and, ultimately, to take his revenge. Finally, the action is brought right up to date with a tale of gang warfare set in then-present-day 60s Japan and headlined by Teruo Yoshida (Ishii’s Orgies of Edo), as a powerful crime syndicate seeks bloody vengeance for the theft of one hundred thousand yen.

Brutal, bewildering and definitely not for the faint-hearted, Yakuza Law represents Japanese popular cinema at its most extreme… and most thrilling.

Special Edition Contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation
  • Original lossless mono Japanese soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles
  • New audio commentary by author and critic Jasper Sharp
  • Erotic-Grotesque and Genre Hopping: Teruo Ishii Speaks, a rare vintage interview with the elusive director on his varied career, newly edited for this release
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacob Phillips

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Tom Mes


The Annihilators

The Annihilators

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IN VIETNAM THEY FOUGHT FOR THEIR COUNTRY. NOW, THEY’RE FIGHTING FOR THEIR FRIENDS.

As the 1980s rolled on, a new, bullish attitude to war took hold in America, the weary cynicism of the previous decade giving way to an unabashed celebration of military might. Numerous filmmakers and producers sought to capitalise on the emerging mood… among them New World Pictures, the company founded by the legendary Roger Corman.

In The Annihilators, the war comes home as a group of army vets, battle-scarred from their travails in the jungles of Vietnam, are forced to dust off their combat moves once again when one of their own meets his demise at the hands a violent criminal gang. Deciding that enough is enough, the self-styled Annihilators, led by the redoubtable Bill (Christopher Stone, The Howling, Cujo), set out to equip the beleaguered citizens of downtown Atlanta with the skills they need to rid their streets of crime and vice.

Directed by Charles E. Sellier Jr. (Silent Night, Deadly Night) and co-starring Gerrit Graham (Phantom of the Paradise) and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (Death Wish), The Annihilators is a brash, no-holds-barred slice of vigilante justice from the golden age of B-movie action.

Special Edition Contents:

  • Brand new 2K restoration from the original 35mm interpostive, presented uncut in the UK for the first time
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original lossless mono soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • The New Heat on the Street, a new video interview with actor Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs
  • In Search of Charles E. Sellier Jr., a new video interview with filmmaker David O’Malley on the early career of the Annihilators director
  • Comparison between the censored and uncensored UK releases of the film
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Travis Crawford