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His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  21,217 ratings  ·  2,387 reviews
In 1869, a brutal triple murder in the remote Wester Ross village of Culduie leads to the arrest of a seventeen-year-old crofter, Roderick Macrae. There is no question of Macrae’s guilt, but it falls to the country’s most eminent legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to his bloody deeds. Ultimately, the young man’s fate hinges on one key question: is he ins ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published November 5th 2015 by Contraband
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3.93  · 
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 ·  21,217 ratings  ·  2,387 reviews


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Jibran
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jibran by: Booker Longlist '16
Shelves: british, fiction
An excellent novel not just for its fascinating historical setting, but for the novelty of its form and its delicate coverage of the larger social, political, and personal themes that blend seamlessly into the criminal investigation without at any point trying to adopt a complacent tone to humour modern-day readers. I am not qualified to opine on its historical authenticity, or how well the characters fit into their historical clothes, but it strikes me as "true" - as true as fiction can be - fo ...more
Elyse Walters
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Update: first off....This is NO LONGER a $1.99 Kindle special. Today it's selling for $14.17. So for those of us - who bought this on the $1.99 day.....we got a great deal.

Here's my review:
I just finished this seconds ago......
DEFINITELY worth more than the $1.99 I paid.

It felt sooo REAL! This book feels like a TRUE STORY! It's NOT! It's a NOVEL!!!
During the trial - at the end of the book -- I felt like I was part of the jury. More than that .... when this book ended, I was still wondering -
...more
LeAnne
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Have you any clue how difficult it is to hire a bagpiper - in South Louisiana - to come play at one's dinner party because you loved a book that much? But I did it! I tore through this sly novel twice in three months, using book club as the excuse for the repeat-read. All I can say is that Graeme Macrae Burnet is one clever devil, as it took not just me, but every couple in the club two days to GET the whole point.
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ORIGINAL REVIEW FROM FIRST READ

Anytime a book is short-listed fo
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Esil
Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I was surprised at how much I ended up enjoying His Bloody Project. It is on the shortlist for the Booker prize this year. When I looked through the list of nominees, it was the one book that appealed the least to me based on the description. But then I read an enthusiastic review written by GR friend Cheri, and decided that I would give it a try. His Bloody Project is written in the form of a case study of a murder committed in 1869 in the Scottish Highlands. The murderer was 15 year old Roderi ...more
Cheri
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

The 2016 Man Booker shortlist includes six books total; among those is Graeme MaCrae Burnet’s “His Bloody Project.”

In the Highlands of Scotland, 1869, is the village of Culduie where three rather brutal murders takes place amidst a landscape of despair, and general misery among the masses. A few chosen ones enjoy a less harsh lifestyle, but for young Roderick John Macrae, life’s few joys disappeared when his mother died in childbirth, leaving himself, his slightly older sister, twin br
...more
Candi
4.5 stars!

"The accounts presented here contain various discrepancies, contradictions and omissions, but taken together they form a tapestry of one of the most fascinating cases in Scottish legal history."

Presented in the fashion of a true crime case, His Bloody Project is in fact a fictional, historical and literary ‘mystery’ novel if you will. It is an exceedingly well-done and riveting account of the gruesome murders committed by Roderick Macrae, or Roddy, in 1869 in the small village of Culdu
...more
Debra
May 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
4.5 stars

His Bloody Project was bloody good! Starting the book, I had no idea I would like it as much as I did. I read most of the book today. The book reads (and feels) like a memoir. This book feels as if it is a "true crime" non-fiction book. This is a novel - but the beauty of it is that it feels SO REAL!!!! This story is told through the "found memoir" of Seventeen year old Roderick "Roddy"Macrae and trial transcripts, the coroner's report, the psychiatrist's report and court testimony of v
...more
Carol
The Hook - An unreliable narrator, narrative crime fiction that reads like a true crime case, short-listed for The Man Booker Prize 2016 and many accolades from both professional reviewers and the reading public led me to His Bloody Project.

The Line(s) - “The purpose of the window is, I imagine, less to afford the occupant of the cell a view than to allow a little air to circulate. Nevertheless, in the absence of other diversions, it is surprising how much entertainment can be gleaned from watc
...more
Peter Boyle
Sep 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Man Booker longlist raised a few eyebrows earlier this year by omitting the works of accomplished authors like Don DeLillo, Eimear McBride and Ian McEwan. But had it not focused on some less-heralded novels instead of the more obvious names, I'd never have heard of the wonderful His Bloody Project. So hooray for the Booker jury I say!

Events unfold in 1869, deep in the Scottish Highlands. Roderick Macrae, a young crofter from the village of Culduie, commits a brutal triple murder. The book is
...more
Perry
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gale-force Gothic Tale of Grisly Murders in 1869 Scottish Highlands

This novel brilliantly seats the reader as detective (or perhaps juror) on the savage, gruesome gouging and murders of the town bully and two of his children in a small farm community on the high coast of Scotland. It's a blend of narrative from the killer and statements to the constable, medical reports and trial transcript, portrayed as a recently discovered manuscript. The issue is not whether he committed the crime but his me
...more
BlackOxford
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: british
Hell in the Highlands

According to the Borges-like found-documents of His Bloody Project, rural Scotland in the 19th century was a society of serfs as oppressed as those of contemporary Russia or India. The life of the common man, from the provision of most basic physical necessity to the enforcement of law, was determined by the interests of the laird, and his administrative henchmen. The estate over which they ruled was the size of a small country and included every inch of ground, every hovel
...more
Paul Bryant
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Well, this is more like it! A grim, propulsive story, a weird and kind of loveable murderer, a sharp, poignant light shone on an obscure period of human suffering (Scottish crofting), a meticulous picture of what real human oppression looks like from the ground up, a meaty villain who so deserved what was coming to him, a beautiful investigation into what it is or is not to be of sound mind, what I am trying to say is that I liked this immoderately.

So therefore, may I say, without any further un
...more
Hugh
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is my favourite of the three books on the Booker longlist I have read so far [edit 9 Oct] - though having since read Do Not Say We Have Nothing and Hot Milk it, His Bloody Project is now only my third best. I am probably biased in that I have spent a lot of time in the Scottish highlands and have read quite a lot about its social history, so much of the backdrop is familiar. In one sense it is a historical crime story in that it centres on a triple murder to which a poor crofter's son has a ...more
Robin
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Robin by: Perry
I'm gratified to see that a "mystery" could make the Man-Booker shortlist, upending long-suffering snobbery about the genre. Though, I don't know if mystery is quite the right way to describe this book, only because the question of the killer's identity is never in dispute. Perhaps I would be more inclined to compare this book to In Cold Blood, though this is a faux version (totally fiction, as opposed to Capote's true crime depiction). The mystery, if this is one, is in an innocuous sprinkling ...more
Sam Quixote
Oct 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
I honestly feel like the requirements for getting on the Booker Prize shortlist are for the novels to: bore you to tears, make you question the very act of reading for pleasure, and make you want to strangle the author out of sheer misery - because that’s what reading His Bloody Project did to me!

Set in the 19th century, a Scottish wanker kills some poor Scottish bastards and goes on trial. That’s the story.

The author’s ponderous, tedious introduction to the book should’ve been a warning sign
...more
PorshaJo
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Quite the interesting read. It is fiction, but presented almost as non-fiction. An account of a crime committed by one Roderick Macrae. This one was a 2016 Man Booker nominee and normally, I'm always baffled by the list of books. But this one I kept coming back to. The name, cover, and synopsis kept calling me to it. It seemed quite macabre and I kinda like that. To be honest, I initially thought it was non-fiction.

In 1869, there was a brutal triple murder carried out by one Roderic "Roddy" Macr
...more
Adina
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shortlisted for Booker prize!

When the longlist for the Booker Prize came out I thought His Bloody Project to be the most interesting title there. I was intrigued that the jurors have chosen a historical mystery, even more that the book made it to the Shortlist. After reading it I understood why it was chosen.

Technically, this is not murder mystery as we know from the start who is the murderer as he confessed. The mystery is in the reason for that person’s crime and the uniqueness comes from th
...more
Antonomasia
Honestly, "literary crime fiction" can be a bit dull sometimes, can't it? All those chilly, brittle delineations of character and meditations on why. The writing may be absent the tiresome clunks often found in a commercial procedural, but also missing is the compulsive moreishness that means you've read a third of the book before you've even looked up from the page again, perplexed and perhaps worried that something so fucking grim is also so much fun. Not so here. This is a book I'd highly rec ...more
Emma
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised and pleased to see the inclusion of this on the Man Booker shortlist this year. For me, the form, style, and intelligence of this novel, as well as the balance between its wit and darkness, gives the prize something it is sometimes lacking: a feeling that there is value in a book being more straightforwardly entertaining. Not that this lacks depth, but it seems to me that nobody could accuse this of 'trying too hard' (a claim which i've heard repeatedly about many of the more mod ...more
Paula Kalin
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Paula by: Nancy Oakes
His Bloody Project, a 2016 Booker Prize nominee, by Graeme Macrae Burnet is a real find. I listened to the audio book and was delighted with the narrator's fine Scottish brogue. Set in the Scottish Highlands in 1869, this is the story of a triple murder by 17 year old Roderick Macrae. Roddy admits his guilt to killing the local village constable and takes full responsibility without remorse.

What's beautiful about this book is the way it was put together with Roddy's memoir, written while jailed,
...more
Maxwell
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A highly enjoyable and interesting examination of justice, criminalization, and classism in late 19th century Scotland. The first 2/3 were engaging enough, but it was the last third that really got my attention. I'm sure this is one that will keep me thinking for quite a while.
Roger Brunyate
True Crime (or not) in Scottish Fiction
In the spring of 2014, I embarked on a project to find out a little about my grandfather, Donald 'Tramp' Macrae, who was born in 1890 in Applecross, two or three miles north of Culduie. It was in the course of my research at the Highland Archive Centre in Inverness that I came across some newspaper clippings describing the trial of Roderick Macrae, and with the assistance of Anne O'Hanlon, the archivist there, discovered the manuscript which comprises the
...more
Trish
It is the dispassionate telling of this story that makes the mystery of Culduie such a success. Roddy Macrae, discovered walking through his village covered in blood, acknowledges freely that he killed Lachlan Mackenzie and “the others.” The novel opens with Macrae’s confession, solicited by his advocate in court. The author then tells us that in the spring of 2014 he began investigating the background of Donald “Tramp” Macrae, his grandfather, and came upon the documents surrounding Roddy Macra ...more
Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
Please check out my other reviews at Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine

Is young Roddy insane? The answer to this question will determine whether he lives or dies. You see, he has taken three lives in the small farming village of Culdie, Scotland in the year 1869. There is no doubt that he is the murder. He has freely admitted to being responsible for the killings upon showing up at a neighbor's house. He's covered head to foot in blood. He carries with him the murder weapons.

Roddy's life has not be ideal or easy
...more
Viv JM
His Bloody Project is a historical novel set in the crofting community of the Scottish highlands. When a brutal triple murder is committed, the community are keen to find out what drove young Roddy Macrae to such violent acts. The reader is to piece together a picture via witness statements, Macrae's journal, the notes of a criminal psychologist and the account of the trial. The variety of sources makes this feel almost like a factual account rather than fiction, and ultimately the reader is lef ...more
Dem
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lost my Original review on Goodreads ( 2015) and as this was one of my favourite books just had to rewrite it.
His Bloody Project - Graeme Macrae Burnet So gripping and atmospheric, a clever psychological thriller


I would never have picked up this book had it not been chosen for this month's book club read as neighter the cover or the blurb appealed to me and while I rarely enjoy Man booker prize winners, I loved this one for its cleverness, athmosphere, and writing style.

The year is 1869. A
...more
Veronica ⭐️
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Wow! Shocking and affecting.

Rodderick Macrae paints a picture of naivety, innocence and trustworthiness as he tells the story of his life and the events that led up to the murder of three fellow villagers.

I found the start of the book slow going but the further I read the more compelling I found the story and the more I started to second guess my own thoughts.

Burnet wants us, the reader, to make our own conclusions concerning the characters’ actions and motivations. We don’t need to be spoon fe
...more
Doug H
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A Thinker, Not a Thriller

I was looking for a thrilling and gory read for the Halloween season, but I didn’t find one here. Instead, I found something better.

So if it’s not a thriller, what is it?

In terms of style, it reminded me of In Cold Blood. In that groundbreaking novel, Capote set the standard for the True Crime novel with its pastiche of eyewitness accounts, interviews with the accused criminals, journalistic entries, court room proceedings, “professional” psychological opinions, detaile
...more
Cathrine ☯️
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: buddy-read, hoopla
4.4★
“One man can no more see into the mind of another than he can see inside a stone.”


Indeed I say.
The author begins with an introduction about his research into family history and the discovery of documents recounting a brutal triple murder in the 1869 Scottish Highlands…perpetrated by a relative perhaps? Very clever! Because nothing in the pages is what it seems to be.
It’s clear from the start that young Roderick Macrae did the deed but what exactly happened and why? Page by page the reader is
...more
Rebecca
(Nearly 4.5) What a terrific, propulsive tale Burnet has woven out of a real-life (I think?) nineteenth-century Scottish murder case. The seams between fact and fiction are so subtle you might forget you’re reading a novel, but it’s clear the author has taken great care in assembling his “documents”: witness testimonies, medical reports, a psychologist’s assessment, trial records, and – the heart of the book and the most fascinating section – a memoir written by the murderer himself. As you’re r ...more
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Graeme Macrae Burnet was born in Kilmarnock in 1967. He studied English Literature at Glasgow University before spending some years teaching in France, the Czech Republic and Portugal. He then took an M.Litt in International Security Studies at St Andrews University and fell into a series of jobs in television. These days he lives in Glasgow.

He has been writing since he was a teenager. His first b
...more
“One man can no more see into the mind of another than he can see inside a stone...” 15 likes
“If we measure our society by the compassion we extend to all its members, then it must be admitted that in extending such compassion to the most wretched among us, we demonstrate our fidelity to the most civilised Christian values.” 4 likes
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