His Bloody Project


By Graeme Macrae Burnet

cover image of His Bloody Project

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Shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize

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.

His Bloody Project is a mesmerising literary thriller set in an unforgiving landscape where the rules can change but justice is absolute.

 Graeme Macrae Burnet was born and brought up in Kilmarnock and now lives in Glasgow, Scotland. In between, he lived in Prague, Bordeaux, Porto and London. His debut novel, The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau, is a psychological crime thriller set in the small town of Saint-Louis on the French–Swiss border. His second book, His Bloody Project, which deals with a triple murder in a crofting village in the Scottish Highlands, has been shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize.

'A real box of tricks...a truly ingenious thriller.' Jake Kerridge, Express

'A gripping crime story, a deeply imagined historical novel, and gloriously written all in one tour-de-force of a book.' Herald, Book of the Year

'Maddeningly brilliant...An intriguing narrative that plays with notions of truth, justice and the historical record.' Hannah Kent, Best Books of 2016, Australian

'Accounts, witness reports, and a trial, all set down as in an authentic case, gradually reveal a truth that is chilling yet inevitable.' Jane Sullivan, Australian Book Review, Books of the Year 2016

'I also adored Graeme Macrae Burnet's maddeningly brilliant His Bloody Project, and found myself utterly absorbed in the 1869 case of Roderick Macrae, accused of murder in a Scottish highland community...A cunning and unreliable tale that still bloody nags at me.' Hannah Kent, The Books We Loved 2016, Sydney Morning Herald

'A dark, unforgettable picture of the crofter's life in 19th-century Scotland.' James Button, The Books We Loved 2016, Sydney Morning Herald

'This is ultimately the book's great strength—its unwillingness to offer a definitive explanation for its protagonist's shocking deeds. After hinting at possible motives and offering a basis for a countervailing case of insanity, the book finally gestures towards the impossibility of knowing the forces at play in another person's mind.' Law Institute Journal

'Transporting and deliciously frustrating—I loved the way Burnet played with notions of doubt, criminality and justice.' Hannah Kent, 2016 Staff Picks, Kill Your Darlings

'A retelling of a gory triple murder that'll indulge your true crime craving.' Elle

'A remote crofting village in nineteenth-century Scotland, and a shocking and seemingly inexplicable act of murder by a teenage villager. Accounts, witness reports, and a trial, all set down as in an authentic case, gradually reveal a truth that is chilling yet inevitable: the power of a feudal system that supports petty tyrants, stereotypes its criminals, and grinds down its...

His Bloody Project