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His Bloody Project de Graeme Macrae Burnet
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His Bloody Project (2015 original; edició 2015)

de Graeme Macrae Burnet (Autor)

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1,2717311,542 (3.87)194
The year is 1869. After a brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands, a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae is arrested for the crime. A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that he is guilty, but the police and the courts must decide what drove him to murder the local village constable. And why did he kill his other two victims? Was he insane? Or was this the act of a man in possession of his senses? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between the killer and the gallows at Inverness. In this compelling and original novel, using the words of the accused, personal testimony, transcripts from the trial and newspaper reports, Graeme Macrae Burnet tells a moving story about the provisional nature of the truth, even when the facts are plain.… (més)
Títol:His Bloody Project
Autors:Graeme Macrae Burnet (Autor)
Informació:Contraband (2015), Edition: 01, 288 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

Detalls de l'obra

His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae de Graeme Macrae Burnet (2015)

  1. 30
    Alias Grace de 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.
  2. 10
    Burial Rites de Hannah Kent (Becchanalia)
  3. 00
    The Gallows Pole de Benjamin Myers (wandering_star)
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Graeme Macrae Burnet’s Booker Prize-nominated novel, His Bloody Project, purports to reconstruct, using contemporaneous documents, the story of a brutal triple slaying that took place in the Scottish village of Culduie. On an otherwise unexceptional day in August 1869, seventeen-year-old Roderick Macrae strolled up the lane from his house to the house of a neighbour, Lachlan Mackenzie. On the way there he was seen by another neighbour and spoke with her. She later testified that Roddy’s manner was normal: he was calm, gave her no cause for fear and did not raise her suspicions. Once at the Mackenzie house he used farming implements he had brought with him to bludgeon to death Lachlan’s daughter Flora and son Donnie, then waited for Lachlan. When Lachlan arrived home, Roddy beat him to death as well. Burnet’s novel consists of an account of the incident written by Roddy after his arrest, several witness statements, medical reports, an excerpt from a study of criminal psychology, and the trial transcript. Posing as an historical document, Burnet’s novel is thoroughly convincing, not to mention suspenseful and addictively readable. His detailed but never heavy handed prose brilliantly reconstructs the period in which the story is set, capturing the doleful spirit of the times, the superstitions that people held, the laws under which they laboured, the technologies they used, their pastimes and the beliefs that swayed attitudes and behaviours. The book, and Roddy himself, are infused with a mood of tragic inevitability. At the trial, Roddy’s motives come under close scrutiny. Experts and witnesses weight in on possible reasons for his actions. But questions persist. How can anyone know the content of another man’s mind? Graeme Macrae Burnet has written an astonishing and gripping novel that gives the reader plenty to think about. ( )
1 vota icolford | Jul 21, 2021 |
I really enjoyed this book because, although it is a novel, it reads as a set of documents from the trial of seventeen year old Roderick Macrae in 1869. Consisting of a series of witness statements, accounts of the trial, medical reports, and a written account of events leading up to the trial by the accused himself. The prose and writing style gave such a feeling of authenticity, that despite knowing this is a novel I had no problem reading it as historical fact. The story is mesmerising, brutal, believable and thought provoking.

It was also a soul-destroying and bleak read, which I struggled through at times. I felt despair at the lives depicted and their lack of expectations. Culduie is Roderick’s home and where he will continue to mind the Croft apportioned to his family, that is the life they lead and it seems one of sheer hopelessness. Roderick is an intelligent lad, literate and articulate judging from his written statement, but he barely questions or even thinks about a different way of life, it is all of no consequence to him. A dishearteningly common sentiment expressed by several of the characters.

The emotionless way the story unfolds is as heart-breaking as the story itself and really enhances the tragedy it depicts. I enjoyed the unique structure, and thought it enhanced the story, making it stand out from the usual crime genre presentation. ( )
  Matacabras | May 8, 2021 |
"Roddy, despite your best efforts to conceal them, God has granted you some uncommon gifts. It would be sinful not to make use of them." (pg. 25)

His Bloody Project is a difficult book to assess for two reasons. The first is that this is a novel, despite the structure and the tone of the content (the subtitle is Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae and it's written almost like non-fiction, with a narrative only inferred by the sequence). Its approach looks daunting at first glance, with initial witness statements being followed by the criminal's lengthy testimony, then medical reports and other media. The effect is an uncanny one: a piece of true crime, but one created by a novelist for purposes that are not always clear.

It reminded me, in a way, of the sort of frame of mind you put yourself in to enjoy something like the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer. It's an odd sensation to read, and the sort of gears a reader turns in his mind to assess a piece of literature have to be slightly altered here. The author provides the 'evidence', the 'documents', and the reader is the one who has to reason out the sequence of events, the character arcs and, most importantly, the motivations. Nevertheless, author Graeme Macrae Burnet does well to shape his story into a basic three-act structure: firstly, the account of the criminal; secondly, the responses of the doctors and the criminal advocate, set against the backdrop of the community coming to terms with the crime; and thirdly, the trial of the criminal and its verdict.

The second, and more critical, reason why the book is difficult to assess is that it is more than crime, but arguably less than literature. (I don't mean that to be too disparaging to the crime genre; it's only an observation that His Bloody Project doesn't rely on formula or convention or story resolution.) And this makes it difficult to wrangle with because, while there is obvious literary merit in the book, it's sometimes underdeveloped, or buried so deep that the reader is doing work bringing themes to the fore, when this really ought to be done by the writer of any particular novel. (In this sense, the book contains 'Documents' – primary sources, raw material – and the reader must make of them what they will.)

This is less a criticism and more an observation, because it is clear that the reader's engagement with the 'evidence' that the author creates is the raison d'être of the book: "This case… is distinguished not by the nature of the crime itself, but by the dissembling nature of the perpetrator's statements after the fact" (pp259-60). That Roderick Macrae commits the murders in the book is beyond doubt (though because such doubt is a staple of crime fiction, you do wonder at first, and you have to ignore that impulse – one more of those gears in the mind that the reader has to alter). What His Bloody Project concerns itself with is why Roderick Macrae committed those acts, and which (if any) of the arguments made in his defence or in the prosecution have merit.

Burnet succeeds in creating this murk in what appears to be an open-and-shut case, which goes some way in showing the reader how even an unremarkable murder (so to speak) can be complex. We know 'whodunnit', and so Burnet pursues a 'whydunnit'. It's an interesting novelty. But it's here that tension is to be found between the crime novel and the literary aspirations. The former requires closure: just as a whodunnit needs to tell us who done it, a whydunnit needs to tell us why it was done. It's here that His Bloody Project begins to dissatisfy.

It's not the fault of the author, who has conceived something original, written it very well and set a slow roast on some compelling literary ideas bubbling under. The problem is that the premise, which allows for each of these benefits to manifest, has inbuilt limitations. The seed can only grow into certain dimensions. By presenting the case, through fictionalized documents, from the perspective of the criminal, witnesses, doctors, lawyers, journalists, and so on, Burnet compels the reader towards the conclusion that "what is at issue are not the facts of the case, but the contents of the perpetrator's mind and… this is something few, if any, could truthfully presume to know" (pg. 250). It would almost be a post-modern take, in which the story takes fundamentally different forms depending on the perspective it is viewed from and the power and influence of the character with that perspective. I say almost, because Burnet and his characters (and the reader) all acknowledge the basic facts of the murder; the objective truth of them. But because of this, we don't get an answer to the 'why' of the whydunnit.

Where Burnet is inarguably successful in his literary efforts is in conveying "the injustice of the feudal conditions under which the Highland crofter continued to toil" (pg. 2). The horrors of the book are not really those of murder – the gruesomeness of which is covered in just a few pages – but of serfdom and the exercise of petty and vindictive power. Set in 1869 in the bleak Scottish Highlands, the common crofters (of whom Roderick Macrae is one) eke out a miserable existence "in a state barely higher than livestock" (pg. 187). Even the paltry, gainless patch of land they live on "belongs to the laird [lord] and it is at his discretion that you have the privilege of working it" (pg. 60). Opportunities of redress are scarce to say the least, but there's always someone who can make it worse: the oppressive difficulties that result in Roderick Macrae taking a tool to someone's skull are exacerbated by a new constable (a sort of overseer) pursuing a cruel, grasping and malicious vendetta. More than that, they do so under a shameless veneer of moral vindication, making it even harder to counteract. The Macrae family squirms under the yoke.

The evidence of this bleak existence is even more damning than that which eventually condemns Roderick Macrae for his crime. This might well be Burnet's intent: there are a number of allusions in the book, particularly in the trial at the end, that the crime is titillating for the community, particularly those who watch from the public gallery and press sections of the court. Even with the doctors and the lawyers, Macrae is more an intellectual curiosity and professional challenge than a man. The lowly crofter himself comments on the "absurdity of the situation in which, by virtue of making a murderer of myself, gentlemen now sought out my company" (pg. 86). Perhaps, Burnet is saying to us, I had to write a crime novel in order to get your attention – you wouldn't have read a bleak literary novel about an ordinary Highland crofter. (Then again, perhaps this isn't what Burnet is saying: he is a crime writer and wouldn't have written a bleak literary novel about an ordinary Highland crofter.)

It begins to get more than a little confusing. Though the literary material is there and the links can be made, there is little to no judiciousness on the part of the author (an inbuilt limitation of that 'documents' premise) and the reader struggles to separate the inevitable tangle. There's something to be said about the sheep that Macrae mercy-kills, though whether it applies to Macrae, his father, or to someone else is an idea which can spark in your brain but is quickly lost in the tangle. It's the same with the irony of the insanity plea in Macrae's trial; the prosecution agrees with Macrae that he was of sound mind, and it is his own defence which says he is insane. Think about that: the defence takes away Macrae's dignity – i.e. that he must be insane, his mind as menial as his labour – but the prosecution, if correct, takes away his life. This, perhaps, is the poverty trap: you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Even if the insanity plea works, the result is not acquittal and freedom, but a commutation of the death penalty and the "dubious reward" of life imprisonment in an asylum (pg. 272). Macrae squirms under the yoke or he kicks air under the rope; there is no other choice.

This can be taken even further. "Do you think it is possible," Macrae's lawyer asks him on page 85, "for a madman to think that he is of sound mind?" As a comment on the poverty trap, it is apposite. Macrae accepts his lot, defers unquestioningly to his betters; he sees this life as normal, when only a madman could accept it. When he commits the murders, there's something almost automatic about it, a subconscious rebellion; the act of murder in part an outbreak of sanity. The gentlemen, too, believing the crofters to be almost a separate, lesser species wallowing in their proper place, don't understand why Macrae performed an act which suggests he isn't content with his lot.

All of this is there in Burnet's book, suggesting it's of great literary merit, but it's hard to say how much was intentional. This is in part because of the documentary nature: Burnet provides the materials and we work up our 'whydunnit' hypotheses. When the reader does the work – and I've had to hold a number of tangled things in my mind when writing the above review – it's hard to know whether to complement the writer for provoking the thoughts that emerge, or gently chastise them for not doing more to facilitate such literary happenings. Surely, from the latter perspective, the worth of an artist is in drawing the water from the well and bringing it to the village, not only in finding the well. Certainly, many readers will finish His Bloody Project feeling rather cold, and not knowing what the fuss was about.

Ultimately, I'm inclined to be favourable to Burnet's book. There are times when the literary aspects falter, and other times when the very nature of the premise prevents them from being exploited. Creating and then organising documents before the reader is an interesting strategy, but it means that the literary stuff is not brought out enough to strike the reader fully. I have a feeling that, in time, I will forget many of the tangled thoughts I have written above, whereas if the book had grasped them and honed them rather than merely provoked them, I might remember them more vividly. Certainly, I would remember them more intuitively; as it is, I feel almost like one of Burnet's gentlemen, seeing Macrae's case as an intellectual exercise. What I will remember is the pitilessness, the sense of hopelessness in the story. There's no light at the end of the tunnel here, unless you would argue for the distant light of understanding. The reader wants to parse the story even if it is forbiddingly tangled. Burnet muddies the waters for indeterminate gain, but we still want to drink. ( )
1 vota MikeFutcher | Mar 10, 2021 |
Really remarkable. Way better than the "A Historical Thriller" line on the title page would have you believe. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae by
Graeme Macrae Burnet is a 2015 Contraband publication.

I have had this book in my TBR pile for several years. In keeping with my project of reading ‘books everyone else has read, but me’ and getting a head start on my new years resolution of tackling my massive TBR list, I finally got round to reading it.

1869- Scottish Highlands

Seventeen-year old Roderick Macrae has been arrested for committing three brutal murders. While he awaits trial, Roderick gives a written account of his version of events. Between reading his memoir, there are interviews with Roderick by experts who work to uncover his psychological make-up- trying to determine what role his environment might have played in the events leading up to the murders.

This clever set up – a fictional crime novel masquerading as true crime, is ingenious. Roddy writes, perhaps a bit too articulately for his station in life, a memoir/confession, explaining how and why he committed the murders.

Once we have his confession, the story moves on to the trial, where witnesses and expert testimony muddy the waters enough to keep the reader from drawing a clear picture of what really transpired, and uncertain what level of empathy should be applied, if any.

The book has a rather abrupt, ambiguous conclusion, but one that makes sense considering the book's composition and themes. It also pretty much guarantees readers will be thinking about the implications long after they turn the final page.

This book was recognized by a few prestigious literary folks, which is rare for a crime novel. This location, the history, the hint of dark humor, and the presentation is impressive, yet I’m still not sure I’m on board with the literary qualifications that have been attributed to it.

All the same, this is a unique, dark little crime thriller, and I’m glad I managed to finally work it into my schedule!!

4 stars ( )
  gpangel | Dec 29, 2020 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 72 (següent | mostra-les totes)
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 >
Graeme Macrae Burnet’s “His Bloody Project” was shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2016, and it is easy to see why. It is consummately conceived and competently written. Its most interesting aspect is the clever blending of reality and fiction. For example, woven into the story are some figures – notably prison doctor and psychology specialist J. Bruce Thomson and journalist John Murdoch who actually existed at the time. Their roles, their thoughts, as portrayed in the novel are those that they held at the historical time of the events of the story unfolds. There are other “real” elements that have been blended in as well.
Burnet has been quick to point out that it's not a typical crime novel ("I prefer to call it 'a novel about a crime'"), and though this is indisputable, it is also true that it's just not a typical novel. The book is presented as a true-crime dossier per its subtitle, "Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae" — a group of found documents excavated by a fictional version of Burnet in the course of researching his grandfather (Donald "Tramp" Macrae), coupled with Burnet's reconstruction of his ancestor's trial. There are witness statements and medical reports, but the centerpiece of these documents is the fictional memoir of 17-year-old Roderick Macrae, written in prison after his arrest for a gory triple murder in his home village of Culduie in 1869.
The facts, based on a real incident in 19th-century Scotland, almost become irrelevant, so good is the telling in prose of unusual clarity. Graeme Macrae Burnet’s Man Booker-shortlisted second novel has all the advantages: brilliant characterisation, conflicting viewpoints, sharp dialogue, the natural eloquence of Robert Louis Stevenson and, above all, assured pacing, supported by a masterful feel for ambivalence.

True to the best of crime writing, the genius lies in the story and the way in which the characters react. It may not be a conventional thriller, but it is no less thrilling for that. The Scottish author’s gleeful wit frequently surfaces in exchanges between characters that live off the page in a work which conveys not only a sense of period but also of place (a remote village). To say it is an obvious screenplay does not diminish the sheer literary ease which underpins the narrative.
His Bloody Project appears to channel a bookish version of the currently fashionable “found footage” film genre, in which verisimilitude is suggested by randomly cobbled-together documentary material forming a fragmentary narrative. In this case, Burnet includes witness statements, postmortem documents on murder victims, a documentary account of a trial — and a lengthy memoir by the man accused of triple murder. The subtitle of the book reads: “Documents relating to the case of Roderick Macrae”, and these ersatz papers build a picture of an insular Highland crofting community in the 19th century while also presenting a fascinating picture of attitudes to the criminology of the era.

» Afegeix-hi altres autors (10 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Burnet, Graeme Macraeautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Feldmann, ClaudiaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Frieyro, AliciaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Jongeling, AnneTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Mehren, HegeTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Nilsson, JohanTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Ortelio, MassimoTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Sibony, JulieTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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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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The year is 1869. After a brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands, a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae is arrested for the crime. A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that he is guilty, but the police and the courts must decide what drove him to murder the local village constable. And why did he kill his other two victims? Was he insane? Or was this the act of a man in possession of his senses? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between the killer and the gallows at Inverness. In this compelling and original novel, using the words of the accused, personal testimony, transcripts from the trial and newspaper reports, Graeme Macrae Burnet tells a moving story about the provisional nature of the truth, even when the facts are plain.

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