His Bloody Project

His Bloody Project

Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae : A Historical Thriller

Book - 2017
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A triple murder in a remote northwestern farming community in 1869 leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. A fictional opinion of a medical doctor and psychologist is given on the questionable sanity of Macrae. The last third of the book is a courtroom transcript that reveals the full truth of the events that left three dead. Burnet has created a fascinating unreliable narrator in this historical revenge tragedy and courtroom drama.
Publisher: New York : Arcade Publishing, 2017.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781628728309
Characteristics: 250 pages ;,22 cm.

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Katie_Dublin
Jul 06, 2019

Interesting historical crime novel. First half of the book is the killer's autobiography. One cannot help but be sympathetic for him and his sad life of crushing poverty. Second half is a doctor's report and his trial. After discovering the true extent of his crimes, the narrator may not be so reliable. I really enjoyed the unique format.

h
htliang
May 30, 2019

Totally felt like I was reading a true-crime historical novel.
I was a bit disappointed in the ending because I hoped for more of a twist - perhaps something the old woman witnessed and was suddenly lucid enough to recount?
Great book!

b
becker
Nov 19, 2018

This is crime fiction that is written in a style that purposely feels more like journalism. It uses a series of reports,documents and witness accounts to unravel the mystery of a gruesome murder. It was a fast read and the structure was fresh and interesting.

ArapahoeAnnaL Apr 27, 2018

A detailed picture of rural life in mid 19th century Scotland where tenant farmers were allowed to farm hereditary portions of the lord's estate. The book provides a fascinating glimpse of the poverty and powerlessness of the farmers and of how the pressures of such a life might lead to violence. Much of the novel is a first person account written by the 17 year old accused murderer. Shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize.

e
empbee
Nov 30, 2017

Interesting and captivating description of rural life in the second half of 19th century Scotland. A good psychological and social thriller.

t
tjdickey
Nov 03, 2017

There is pointedly no omniscience in "His Bloody Project." The set of historical "documents" sets up a particularly obscure camera through which we can view the cottage life, the rude surroundings, the insolence of office, and the brutal mass killings that ensue in a tiny Scottish village. Burnet uses language in a conscious evocation of the roughness of his characters, and presents reality only in parallax view: it is something we must triangulate from the intensely biased accounts of a handful of all-too human actors and observers. Placing the omissions and contradictions of human perception at the heart of an unfathomable mystery and a courtroom trial, the novel evokes the reality-questioning of Kurosawa's "Rashomon."

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lukasevansherman
Jul 19, 2017

I'd called this a murder mystery, but you already know who committed the murder. Scottish author Graeme Macrae Burnet's second novel is striking in two ways: it's set in rural 19th century Scotland and it's presented as a series of historical documents "discovered" by the author. The longest section is the confession of the young murderer, a dirt poor crofter sick of the humiliations and abuses of those more powerful than he and his family. Then there are testimonies from neighbors, doctors, journalists, and a criminologist. The final section is the trial. Dark, compelling, and inventive, this is one of the best novels I've read this year. A finalist for the Booker prize in 2016.

Nicr May 08, 2017

Researching his family history, the narrator comes across a triple murder in 1869 by his relative, Roderick Macrae, then 17. After an initial setup for verisimilitude, what follows are brief accounts from various acquaintances (with various points of view as to the nature of the killer), a long account by the killer himself of his life leading up to and including the crime (written in prison at the behest of his attorney), medical examiner's reports, an account of the trial, etc. Of course, what immediately begins to stand out are the discrepancies. A clever and accomplished piece of fiction masquerading as history.

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lbeast
Feb 13, 2017

I highly recommend this book. I've gotten into reading lots of historical fiction mysteries from many eras of British history (Roman, Elizabethan, Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian) but this is a slightly different animal. Written as if it's a recounting of a crime in Scotland in the 1860s, complete with explanations, transcripts, various experts, you almost feel like it must have been an actual event. It isn't a thriller, it's a slow simmering work of intrigue and social commentary. For a while, I thought I was reading Peter May's Black House work because it's very similar. But this work is a reader's delight. I liked it.

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uncommonreader
Feb 02, 2017

In this historical fiction novel masquerading as an account of the crime of a 17 year old boy in 1869 Scotland, the author provides an indictment of the exploitation of the crofting community by unscrupulous landlords. While it was interesting, it did not live up to the hype it generated.

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