Day 1108: His Bloody Project

Cover for His Bloody ProjectI was actually reading another novel on my iPad when I picked up His Bloody Project because my iPad needed charging. I was so riveted by it that I couldn’t go back to the other novel until I finished this one.

In 1869 Scotland, 17-year-old Roddy Macrae is in jail awaiting trial for the murders of three people. Roddy has admitted the murders and is ready to take his punishment, which in this time means hanging. His advocate, Mr. Sinclair, thinks there are mitigating circumstances and asks him to write his account of the crimes.

The entire novel is made up of documents—first, Roddy’s account, then the medical reports of the victims and psychiatric evaluations, finally the account of the trial and what happened afterward. Although there is no doubt who committed the murders and little doubt of the outcome of the trial, Burnet manages to conjure up a great deal of sympathy for Roddy and a terrific amount of suspense.

Not only does Burnet create a complex psychological depiction of Roddy, he also deftly depicts the life of highland crofters in the mid-19th century. The novel deals with such issues as class discrimination, the inequities in the lives of crofters and their domination by the landlords, the limitations of our system of justice, and the beliefs held in the infancy of psychiatry. These observations make the novel sound heavy, but it is eminently readable. This is one of the books I read for my Booker Prize project, and I’m really glad I did.

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11 thoughts on “Day 1108: His Bloody Project

  1. Emily J. July 20, 2017 / 11:08 am

    I am definitely putting this on my list!

  2. FictionFan July 20, 2017 / 6:00 pm

    Ooh, I have this one to read so I’m glad you liked it so much. Haha! Not that I wouldn’t have been glad even if I didn’t have it… 😉

  3. Helen July 21, 2017 / 2:16 pm

    I read this earlier in the year and I was riveted by it too. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    • whatmeread July 21, 2017 / 6:40 pm

      I think your review was what made me want to read it.

  4. Brona July 22, 2017 / 7:11 am

    It’s a terrific read isn’t it?

  5. Naomi July 31, 2017 / 3:35 pm

    High praise!

  6. TJ @ MyBookStrings August 7, 2017 / 11:03 am

    I have just moved this one next to my “maybe-soon-to-be-read” pile. I’m looking forward to it now.

    • whatmeread August 7, 2017 / 11:10 am

      Do you have different piles for different likelihood of reading soon? That’s pretty funny! Maybe I should do it more like that. I have one pile, but sometimes I take the next book out of it and just shove it back in at the back. I’ve been doing that for over a year with a book by Nabokov.

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