His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

 His Bloody Project cover

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet was of course shortlisted for the Booker prize, I haven’t read any of the others shortlisted or indeed the winner but I can’t imagine that they would have been as good as this one. Burnet portrays Culduie and its surrounding areas and inhabitants so well, down to the rivalry that there often is between one settlement and the nearest neighbouring one, who tend to be seen as barbarians for some reason. The book is set towards the late 1860s and it’s 1869 when everything comes to a head.

The subtitle of the book is Documents relating to the case of Roderick Macrae. More than half of the book is written by seventeen year old Roderick Macrae who is in a prison cell in Inverness, accused of the murder of three of his neighbours. Roderick has admitted to the deed, in fact he could hardly deny it as he had walked through the tiny hamlet of Culduie in the Highlands – covered in their blood.

After a campaign of bullying by Lachlan Broad – the local constable and a figure of authority tasked with seeing that the inhabitants of Culduie kept the area in order – Roddy snapped, the last straw being when an eviction order was delivered to his father.

Roddy’s relationship with his father was a strained one, which only got worse after the death of his mother who had been a bit of a buffer for him, protecting Roddy from the worst excesses of his father’s Presbyterian strictness which included beating Roddy on a weekly basis for no real reasons.

Roddy’s advocate hopes to prove that his client committed the murders when he was more mad than bad, it’s the only thing that will save him from the gallows.

But when it comes to the actual trial Roddy’s account of things doesn’t tally with the forensic evidence from the bodies. Something doesn’t quite add up.

Of course there’s a lot more to this book than that, but as ever I don’t want to give a blow by blow account of it. It’s a great read though, but not exactly an uplifting one.

I read this one for the Read Scotland 2017 Challenge. Jack has read it too.

8 thoughts on “His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

    • Margaret,
      They must have bought a lot of copies in Fife libraries as there were two copies sitting on a shelf in my local one. I hope you enjoy it too, when you get a hold of it.

  1. I read this recently and loved it, as you know. This was the only book on the Booker shortlist that appealed to me, but I can’t imagine any of the others being better either.

    • Helen,
      I knew that one of my favourite bloggers had read it recently – it must have been you. I wonder if he will manage to write another book as good as this one.

  2. After I read Helen’s review this week I placed a hold on this at the library. It sounds really good and I’m looking forward to reading it. It will be much different from reading Persephones, I’m sure!

    • Anbolyn,
      It definitely will be different, but just as well written I’m sure you’ll find. I’m looking forward to reading about your Persephone reads – no pressure!!

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