His Bloody Project By Graeme Macrae Burnet

2017 Limelight Reviews
General Fiction, Mystery and Crime

I cannot say that the genre of crime and mystery is my favourite.  Those who come into the library know that I have embarrassingly less than helpful knowledge of authors in this genre.  So when a friend recommended His Bloody Project By Graeme Macrae Burnet to me, it was only because her other recommendations have always been good, that I thought I would give this one a go.

As it turns out, I have since re-catalogued this book to shelve it in the general novel section.  There is a murder (in fact several rather gruesome ones) but there is no mystery attached to the crime.  The book begins with a preface from the author claiming that he came upon this story whilst researching his own family history. The author found a written account by the accused, Roderick MacRae, who at the age of 17, brutally (and I do mean brutally) kills his factor (landlord) and two others.

The author writes in the preface that, in his research, he found this account of Roddy Macrae, as written by himself, at the bequest of his lawyer whilst he was in prison awaiting his trial.  He also states that for a mostly uneducated man, Roddy writes remarkably well.

Roddy and his family live in a small village in Scotland.  Their lives are nothing but hardship as they toil on the land of the factor whilst having little education, the mother dying in childbirth and the rearing of the family left to Roddy and his sister.  It does not help that the factor appears to “have it in in for” Roddy and his family.  The first half of this book is the account written by Roddy, where he explains the events that lead to him murdering his factor.  He openly admits that he committed this crime, and these events certainly suggest he had good reason for his actions.  The second half of the book covers expert witnesses, and the trial of Roddy, which makes the reader question the authenticity of the original account.  It’s an excellent read right from the beginning, where the author lays out the premise and the reason for the story, and then makes you question the honesty of Roddy or was it just how he interpreted events?  So much to question in this story!  I loved it and may even try another crime novel some time soon.

Find His Bloody Project By Graeme Macrae Burnet in the SMSA Library Catalogue


Reviewed by Kathy Sale,
SMSA Library Coordinator