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His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

His Bloody Project

by Graeme Macrae Burnet

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8075416,180 (3.93)173
Recently added byprivate library, CaroPi, eclt83, Rdra1962, villemezbrown, MysAnita, brismel, Alison.Fields, flanerie
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    Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: Both are Booker shortlisted novels that tell the story of a 19th century crime. Atwood's is based on a real crime.
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» See also 173 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
This book is subtitled on the cover a historical "thriller," and I'm not sure I've ever seen that word so misapplied. Sure, the first half of the book was fine as our unreliable narrator presented his version of events leading up to the murder of three people. Not thrilling, but it certainly alluded to plenty of sexual intrigues and other obvious holes in the narrative that I thought would be addressed in the second half of the book or perhaps a twist ending in the epilogue. But the psychological evaluation and transcript of the trial that comprised the second half just circled repetitively around the events as they had been already laid out, adding little and explaining less. My interest died with the momentum.

And did we really need several pages of the judge's instructions to the jury? I used to give practice dictation to court reporting students, and these were everybody's least favorite parts of transcripts due to their dry legalese. This novel does nothing to liven them up.

(p.s. I'm reading this because a monthly book club meets at one of the libraries where I work, and I'm constantly overhearing their discussions as I toil nearby, so I have decided the best way to avoid spoilers for books I have not yet read but might want to is to read along even if I'm not part of the discussion. Thankfully, the next couple books seem more promising.) ( )
  villemezbrown | Jul 28, 2018 |
An interesting and twisty epistolary novel, told in the form of documents about a murder in 19th century Scotland. Burnet does a terrific job of layering ambiguities in a very realistic way that most crime novels don't manage - so while this novel lacks any really compelling or sympathetic characters, it makes up for it in structural brilliance. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Jul 9, 2018 |
Very mixed feelings about this book. It's told entirely through documents pertaining to the trial of a boy who admits to killing three people. In general, Burnet does a good job with the voice, although at times I felt the trial transcript itself sounded more modern than it should have (especially the dueling psychological experts -- would they even have existed at the time?). More than that, though, I get that writing up all of these documents in an authentic way was a creative challenge for Burnet but I don't get exactly what he was trying to say; I don't see this book shedding any fresh new light or looking at this point in history through a different lens. I also thought the sister's storyline was painfully cliched, although that's a bit of a gray area since we only hear about her from the accused himself.

I don't understand why this is on the Booker longlist, and I probably would be a little bit easier on it if it hadn't been. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |

I loved this book.

When I first learned of its publication, I thought that it was a non-fiction account of a murder trial in Scotland in the 1860s. His Bloody Project is actually a novel, written as though it's non-fiction, which makes the story all that more believable and engrossing. It was short-listed for the Man Booker prize in 2016.

I'm not normally drawn to thriller/mysteries, as that's what this book is categorized as, but in my opinion it should not be categorized as either of those. This is a novel of psychology, of endurance, of the questions of what is moral and what is immoral. This is not a whodunit, but a whydunit.

The book is broken up into parts, the first part being a memoir of events written by the accused, Roddy Macrae, while he's in prison awaiting trial for murder. The subsequent sections are medical reports, psychological assessments, and accounts of the trial. Roddy's first-account narrative lends sympathy for his circumstances. The reader follows Roddy's thoughts and emotional turmoil, forming a bond with the murderer; but later, others' interpretations of the events, during the lawyers' investigations and at the trial, cause the seeds of doubt to be sown, and nothing is certain.

This is an expert writing full of nuances and subtleties. I'm going to be thinking about this book for a long time. His Bloody Project will definitely make you ponder; it would be great for book clubs. I'm planning on stopping at Applecross while visiting Scotland this summer, just to walk around the same village as Roddy Macrae. I have to keep reminding myself that this book is fictional.

This review is also posted on my blog: flyleafunfurled.com ( )
  ErickaS | May 2, 2018 |
ON a trip to Scotland I have to buy a book by a Scottish author in a Scottish bookstore. Graeme Macrae Burnet actually fit both bills--he is a Scottish author and he worked in the bookstore I purchased the book in. His Bloody Project was shortlisted for the Man Booker price in 2016.

Roderick Macrae murdered Lachlan "Broad" MacKenzie, his 15 year old daughter Flora and his young son Danny. Of that there is no denying. He admits it. However, what was his motivation and should he be acquitted of the charges is the main issue.

The year is 1869, Scotland. Graeme Macrae Burnet forms his book like a police investigation. There are witness statements, statements from doctors and Roderick's 100 statement of the murder and events leading up to it. There is an account of the trial and the verdict. The entire book is gripping, if a little slow reading at times. You learn how the poorer class lived in 19th century Scotland and how they were looked upon by the upper class and the 'lairds' whose land they farmed.

I'm not a literary fiction reader and the Man Booker prize is a literary fiction award so I was a little unsure whether I would like the book, but I really loved it. So, if you're looking for something 'different' to read, I'd highly recommend His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. ( )
  EdGoldberg | May 1, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Een jaar voor de dramatische gebeurtenissen verliest Roderick Macrea zijn moeder. Omdat iedereen haar persoonlijkheid vergeleek met ‘het zonlicht dat de gewassen koesterde’ was het hele dorp in diepe rouw gedompeld. Zijn vader leek er niet veel last van te hebben, hij was altijd in mineurstemming. Dorpsgenoten leggen de situatie allemaal anders uit. Maar er komt wel degelijk een beeld uit naar voren dat Roderick Macrae en zijn vader telkens weer vernederd werd door dorpsgenoot Lachlan Mackenzie...lees verder >
t’s a psychological thriller masquerading as a slice of true crime; a collection of “found” documents that play lovingly with the traditions of Scottish literature; an artful portrait of a remote crofting community in the 19th century that showcases contemporary theories about class and criminology. The book is also a blackly funny investigation into madness and motivation, which perhaps leads no further than one character’s grim conclusion: “One man can no more see into the mind of another than he can see inside a stone.”...The book’s pretence at veracity, as well as being a literary jeux d’esprit, brings an extraordinary historical period into focus, while the multiple unreliable perspectives are designed to keep the audience wondering, throughout the novel and beyond. This is a fiendishly readable tale that richly deserves the wider attention the Booker has brought it.
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The quern performs best when the grindstone has been pitted.
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I am writing this at the behest of my advocate, Mr Andrew Sinclair, who since my incarceration here in Inverness has treated me with a degree of civility I in no way deserve.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A brutal triple murder. Dark and deadly deeds in a remote northwestern crofting community in 1869 lead to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. There's no question that Macrae landed the savage blows, 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 insane? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the inevitability of the gallows at Inverness.Will he swing for his wicked acts?
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Dark and deadly deeds in a remote northwestern crofting community in 1869 lead to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the inevitablility of the gallows at Inverness. Will he swing for his wicked acts?… (more)

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