A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence. Was he mad? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the gallows. Graeme Macrae Burnet tells an irresistible and original story about the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear. His Bloody Project is a mesmerising literary thriller set in an unforgiving landscape where the exercise of power is arbitrary.
I think this novel very accurately portrayed the harsh life and conditions that crofting communities had to endure. The land was very inhospitable and they eked a living with very little to spare. Here they survived or failed on the largess of the petty constable Lachlan Broad who relished in his powers and his own self importance. Sensing the vulnerability of the Macraes following the untimely death of the mother he swooped on them heaping insult and humiliation at every opportunity. Yet despite this the father made no complaint and Roderick worked extra hours to pay off the fines levied.
Roderick was intelligent but had no expectations and applied himself to working on the croft – he seemed to accept his lot in life without complaint. He tried to get his father to complain but he refused until the visit to the factor where he was deemed as nothing more than a n irritation and nuisance and dismissed without further thought. This resulted in the eviction notice. Lachlan’s dismissiveness of his father following this, and his sister ‘s unhappy state as a result of him and knowing his sister’s intention when he saw her in the barn – was just too much for Roderick. He decided enough was enough and that he would have to kill Lachlan Broad, which he did. Floras mutilation may have been to avenge his family and the young boy just happened to be in the way – not too sure on this. I thought the trial in Inverness was very well described. Roderick’s life was laid bare and his father was distinctly uncomfortable giving evidence and showed no concern for his son’s welfare or fate, in the same way as he had shown no concern following his daughter’s death. As Roderick’s life unfolded it was clear that the jury had a good deal of sympathy for his situation, but despite all the arguments they could not be persuaded that he was insane or of unsound mind at the time he committed the murders. He was duly sentenced to death. I very much enjoyed this book! 4/5