Tag Archives: good books

HIS BLOODY PROJECT by Graeme Macrae Burnet (2015)



This novel was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize in 2016 and, although it didn’t win, the nomination will give the novel oodles of exposure. It’s a historical thriller that is a little difficult to categorize but the author himself has said it’s “a novel about a crime rather than a crime novel” That sounds right. The multiple perspective format allows the reader to almost be the detective; taking in the information and sifting through the often contradictory evidence.

This is not a whodunnit since we learn almost immediately that the protagonist -a youth by the name of  Roderick Macrae – had readily admitted to the killing of three people in his Scottish Highland crofting community in 1869. But why? Roddy’s advocate (lawyer) tasks him with writing an account of his life and the circumstances proceeding  the murders along with details of the actual killings.  The resulting narrative is a grim and gloomy representation of a life saturated with hopelessness where the churchy types embrace providence -” it is the will of God”- sort of thinking.  The death of his mother and then the wrath of a bully-man add further darkness to an already bleak existence.

Roddy’s personal narrative accounts for over half of the novel but there are other perspectives to consider. The reader is privy to the court proceedings, newspaper stories, medical and coroner’s report, character assessments, and other cronicles. An expert on lunacy examines Roddy and gives testimony that might have been darkly funny if it hadn’t been so disturbing.

Of course nothing is straight forward…and that is the point, I think.  Extenuating circumstances — maybe —maybe not!

I found this to be a fascinating and rewarding novel.

HIS BLOODY PROJECT Documents relating to the case of Roderick Macrae… by Graeme Macrae Burnet   Contraband Publishing (2015) 288 pages

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Filed under book review, book reviews, books, historical fiction, Scotland, Uncategorized

The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott

    Historical Fiction

This interesting novel opens in 1912 as a stage mother is auditioning her three attractive daughters  for a place on the vaudeville stage. The mother has refused to accept charity or assistance from her late husband’s family, determined  to be self-supporting and unwilling to address some past conflict. I really enjoyed this book  BUT I found the first 100 pages (or so) rather tedious. I know on my library website several people admitted to abandoning this book before they were far along. There is simply too much detail about their developing  stage act; add a song … add a dance… remove a song… use a different key… sing solo.. sing duet.. and on, and on. But at some point my interest became engaged and I became totally enchanted with the characters. The three sisters  mature and develop in this strange  world of the vaudeville circuit as their mother deteriorates in health and spirits. The other performers become their family as they face love, betrayal, heartbreak, success, failure. As the story progresses WWI becomes a reality that affects everyone’s life. I found this novel to be a very satisfying  book and I  only wish the author had followed that  old piece of  show biz wisdom…….Dazzle them in the first act so they stay after the first intermission.

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Filed under General fiction, historical fiction, world war 1