Graeme Macrae Burnet – His Bloody Project (4 stars)

True crime tale exploring the life of a 19th century crofter

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Graeme Macrae Burnet – His Bloody Project

While researching his family history in the Public Records Office in Inverness, author Graeme Macrae Burnet discovered the story of Roderick 'Roddy' Macrae, a 17-year-old boy from Culduie in Wester Ross who committed a brutal triple murder.

While awaiting trial, Roddy wrote a detailed account of his life up until the crime. This novel is the first time his memoir has been printed in full, the more disturbing passages previously distributed as sensational chapbooks (small booklets).

Roddy draws the reader into his confidences as he recounts a seemingly honest and entirely unromanticised account of the life of a crofter in 19th-century Scotland. The known outcome lends his tale a weighty sense of foreboding and almost inevitable tragedy.

His narrative is followed by an extract from the memoir of a psychiatrist who examined Roddy, entitled Travels in the Border-Lands of Lunacy, and an account of his dramatic trial using newspaper reports. These expose inconsistencies and omissions in Roddy's story, demonstrating not just the unreliability of the individual narrators but the complexity of the justice system's task in determining whether he, or any criminal, was sound of mind.

Out Thu 5 Nov, from Contraband.

Graeme Macrae Burnet: His Bloody Project

Graeme Macrae Burnet chats about his novel, His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae.

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