Named a Best Book of 2016 by Newsweek, NPR, The Guardian, The Telegraph, and The Sunday Times!
In the smash hit historical thriller that the New York Times Book Review calls “thought provoking fiction,” a brutal triple murder in a remote Scottish farming community in 1869 leads to the arrest of seventeen-year-old Roderick Macrae. There is no question that Macrae committed this terrible act. What would lead such a shy and intelligent boy down this bloody path? And will he hang for his crime?
Presented as a collection of documents discovered by the author, His Bloody Project opens with a series of police statements taken from the villagers of Culdie, Ross-shire. They offer conflicting impressions of the accused; one interviewee recalls Macrae as a gentle and quiet child, while another details him as evil and wicked. Chief among the papers is Roderick Macrae’s own memoirs where he outlines the series of events leading up to the murder in eloquent and affectless prose. There follow medical reports, psychological evaluations, a courtroom transcript from the trial, and other documents that throw both Macrae’s motive and his sanity into question.
Graeme Macrae Burnet’s multilayered narrative—centered around an unreliable narrator—will keep the reader guessing to the very end. His Bloody Project is a deeply imagined crime novel that is both thrilling and luridly entertaining from an exceptional new voice.
SubtitleDocuments Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae (Man Booker Prize Finalist 2016)
AuthorBy Graeme MaCrae Burnet
Published18 October 2016
Dimensions6.00 x 9.00in.
About the author
Graeme Macrae Burnet has established a reputation for smart and literary mystery writing with his highly praised first novel, The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau, which was featured in the List’s Top Scottish Books of 2014. He was born and brought up in Kilmarnock and has lived in Prague, Bordeaux, Porto, and London. He now lives in Glasgow, Scotland.
“Both a horrific tale of violence and a rumination on the societal problems for poor sharecroppers of the era.”
“Clever and gripping.“—Library Journal, starred review
“One of the most convincing and engrossing novels of the year.”—The Scotsman
“A truly ingenious thriller as confusingly multilayered as an Escher staircase.”
“There is no gainstaying the ingenuity with which Burnet has constructed his puzzle..."
— The Telegraph
“…sly, poignant, gritty, thought-provoking, and sprinkled with wit.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“[A] powerful, absorbing novel… Fiction authors from Henry James to Vladimir Nabokov to Gillian Flynn have used [an unreliable narrator] to induce ambiguity, heighten suspense and fold an alternative story between the lines of a printed text. Mr. Burnet, a Glasgow author, does all of that and more in this page-turning period account of pathos and violence in 19th-century Scotland… [A] cleverly constructed tale… Has the lineaments of the crime thriller but some of the sociology of a Thomas Hardy novel.”
—Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal
“…recalls William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner in the way it portrays an abused people and makes the ensuing violence understandable… His Bloody Project shows that the power held by landowners and overseers allowed cruelties just like those suffered by the Virginia slaves in Confessions. Halfway between a thriller and a sociological study of an exploitive economic system with eerie echoes to our own time, His Bloody Project is a gripping and relevant read.”
“Burnet is a writer of great skill and authority… few readers will be able to put down His Bloody Project as it speeds towards a surprising (and ultimately puzzling) conclusion.”
“His Bloody Project is an ingenious, artful tale of a 19th century triple murder in the Scottish Highlands. Though a novel—and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize—it masquerades as the tale of a true crime, made up of a collection of historical documents supposedly unearthed by the writer, each bit shedding further light on what drove a 17-year-old to kill three people—including an infant—in his small crofting community.”
"A stellar crime novel and a wrenching historical portrait, His Bloody Project also succeeds at lyrically questioning whether it's possible to know another man's mind—or even desirable. The novel sends out vines in all directions, its characters' tangled motives obscured by tragedy and lies.”
—Lyndsay Faye, author of Gods of Gotham
“A thriller with a fine literary pedigree... His Bloody Project offers an intricate, interactive puzzle, a crime novel written, excuse my British, bloody well.”
—Steph Cha, Los Angeles Times
“[His Bloody Project] had such an engrossing plot that I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it, so it was no surprise that Graeme Macrae Burnet’s excellent work was short listed for the Man Booker Prize... The interesting and innovative structure used by the author, where you feel like you are reading original historical records, sets the book apart from others of a similar genre and his skillful writing means the reader can’t help but empathise with the ‘murderer’. In addition to the gripping story, the book gives the reader a fascinating insight into Highland life at the time — its harshness, poverty and brutality. Definitely one of the best books this year.“
—First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon
"Psychologically astute and convincingly grounded in its environment… a fine achievement.”
—The New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice
“Fiendishly readable... A psychological thriller masquerading as a slice of true crime… The book is also a blackly funny investigation into madness and motivation.”—The Guardian
“I disappeared inside the pages of Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project... fascinating.”
—The Seattle Times
“Burnet has created an eloquent character who will stick with you long after the book is read.”
—The Seattle Review of Books
“A masterful psychological thriller.”
—Ian Stephen, author of A Book of Death and Fish
“Masterful, clever and playful... one of the most experimental and assured authors currently writing in Scotland”
—Louise Hutcheson, A Novel Bookblog
“One of the most enjoyable and involving novels you’ll read this year”
—Alistair Braidwood, cots Wha Hae
“A gripping crime story, a deeply imagined historical novel, and gloriously written — all in one tour-de-force of a book. Stevensonian — that’s the highest praise I can give.”
—Chris Dolan, Sunday Herald, Books of the Year
*** Praise for Skyhorse Publishing ***
“I can’t begin to tell you how gratifying it is to have such enthusiasm and great support from everyone at Skyhorse.”
–Terry Goodkind, New York Times bestselling author
“From the get-go, the Skyhorse editorial, marketing and sales, and publicity team championed my novel, The Promise. Two years after the first publication, the team continues to push the book with the same heartfelt and determined enthusiasm.”
–Ann Weisgarber, author