Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

"His Bloody Project" by Graeme Macrae Burnet (Contraband, 2015)

The frontispiece says "Edited and introduced by Graeme Macrae Burnet". In the Preface we're told that while researching into his family tree, Burnet came across Roderick Macrae's memoir, written in 1869. At the time, we're told, people suspected that it might be a forgery - how could a rustic 17 year old have written it? We're told that the book contains police statements, post-mortem reports, psychiatric reports and newspaper articles. We're warned of contradictions. There's a map.

It all seems rather slow to me. So what if the narrators were unreliable? So what if it's based on documented events? The characters are largely caricatures, and the write-up of the trial (verbatim dialogues) is tedious. The passivity that a few characters expressed in the face of fate could have been exploited more. The one glimmer of hope for the novel was the twist introduced by Mr Thompson about the motive of the accused and the accused's subsequent deception.

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1 comment:

  1. Dear Tim

    To be honest, I think you're being a wee bit hard on it. I am currently reading this book on the recommendation of my sister. I agree with you that the story's a tad slow but the prose is exquisite.

    Best wishes from Simon R. Gladdish