Book Review – His Bloody Project, Graeme Macrae Burnet
Title: His Bloody Project
Author: Graeme Macrae Burnet
Copyright: Graeme Macrae Burnet 2015
Blurb: The year is 1869. A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence. Was he mad? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the gallows.
Plot (or subject if non fiction): This aspect is confusing. Is it fiction, or non-fiction. It’s brilliant and I’m guessing it’s fiction compiled around fact. That’s what it says it is.
Isn’t all fact just one person’s version of events? History is after all, HIS STORY, yes some feminists did want to change the word.
A small town murder occurs, in true ‘TV detective Columbo’ style you know who did it, but you are still drawn into the tale. Brutal moments, hidden undercurrents and stubborn survival instincts all described simply and in deserved prize-winning ways.
You must read the whole book, don’t do what I confess I often do, which is to skip the preface.
I’m looking into my own heritage. If I can uncover a long lost relative like Roddy and put together a compulsive and heart wrending story around the facts as Graeme has I’ll be thrilled.
OR is it totally fiction, all made up in Mr Macrae’s imagination? I’m still not sure!
Characters: Roderick Macrae – a descendant of the author, a grieving son of a, now deceased, loving mother Una
Roderick’s father John Macrae – recently widowed, hard man of the hills, struggling to keep afloat
Lachlan Mackenzie aka Lachlan Broad – not a nice chap, but did he deserve what he got?
Conclusion: The ‘story’ is funny, heart breaking and educational. It will make you glad you’re alive now and not in the time or place of the events at the heart of the book.
I love an underdog so it really broke my heart.
The court scene has discussions that brought to mind the old skulls you can find in museums when they studied phrenology as a science. The so called experts of a view that there was a ‘criminal class’ you could spot by their physical attributes.
I guess in some ways we haven’t come that far, you still hear people saying ‘he looked dodgy.’ Maybe we are hard wired to judge by appearance.
Recommended: YES YES and YES. I don’t usually like or always understand the Booker prize choices but this is one I whole heartedly agree with. It has become one of my FAVOURITE books.
Pick it up, devour it and let me know if you agree, I’m sure you will.
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