Book review: His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

All of the opinions on this book are my own. I am not trying to force a certain thought on people, just expressing how I feel about it. 

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor his bloody project

Synopsis: A brutal triple murder in a remote Scottish farming community in 1869 leads to the arrest of seventeen-year-old Roderick Macrae. There is no question that Macrae committed this terrible act. What would lead such a shy and intelligent boy down this bloody path? Will he hang for his crime?

Presented as a collection of documents discovered by the author, His Bloody Project opens with a series of police statements taken from the villagers of Culdie, Ross-shire. They offer conflicting impressions of the accused; one interviewee recalls Macrae as a gentle and quiet child, while another details him as evil and wicked. Chief among the papers is Roderick Macrae’s own memoirs, where he outlines the series of events leading up to the murder in eloquent and affectless prose. There follow medical reports, psychological evaluations, a courtroom transcript from the trial, and other documents that throw both Macrae’s motive and his sanity into question. Graeme Macrae Burnet’s multilayered narrative will keep the reader guessing to the very end.

This book is very different from other books. The book isn’t divided in chapters of a couple of pages, but is divided in the different documents relating to the case. I found it amazing to read. The majority of the book consists of the memoir of Roderick Macrea, who killed 3 people, of which the main one is (as is very clear from the beginning) Lachlan Mackenzie. The memoir consists of Roddy (Roderick) explaining the whole of events that happened till the moment after the murders. The entire book completely gripped me and I loved it from the beginning till the end. I am a big fan of crime/murder books and this made me think a lot of the documentary series ‘Making a murderer’ where I felt like playing a detective trying to solve the case. I had that feeling a lot with this book. It makes you think about the motive(s) that Roddy had.

The memoir really grabbed me and made me really feel bad for the Macrea family. The way Lachlan treated the family gave me an angry feeling. In the end I actually didn’t feel bad for Lachlan that he was murdered. He really had it coming. Besides Lachlan I started to feel that the entire country was against him. Absolutely no-one wanted to understand the situation and everyone just let it happen. It made me feel hopeless for Roddy and his family.

The rest of the book contains medical reports, an article and the trial. In the end I didn’t really know what to think about the discussion if Roddy was sane when he murdered them. I can still not make up my mind about it. He could have been insane and sane at the moment of the murders. The whole book also doesn’t make it clear what his motives were,  and it will remain a mystery till today.

Spoilers: The killing of Flora and Donald Mackenzie was very unnecessary in my opinion. They did nothing wrong to Roddy or his family. Donald was only 3 years old! The way the three of them were killed was also total overkill. He could have sufficed with one blow to the head, but he decided to go for the complete gruesome kill with brains splattering around. The only anger he should have build up would be against Lachlan.

To conclude, this book is 5/5 stars for me. It had me from the first page to the last.




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