His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
To paraphrase Orson Wells’ famous line about art, I don’t know anything about books but I know what I like and His Bloody Project is it. Not just because it’s a page turning thriller or because of its brooding premise, but because it’s so original, so authentic and so intelligently crafted.
This novel is based on the true story of an infamous triple murder committed by a barely educated 17 year old boy in country Scotland in 1869. Written by Graeme Macrae Burnet, it is literally a compilation of the original documents relating to the case woven into a story.
It is a fictionalised historical thriller without the fiction. Genius.
Burnet’s seamless layering off this incredible material makes for a dark and truly original book that is without doubt, my favourite book of the year to date.
Trust me, if I was in your book club talking about this one, you wouldn’t be able to shut me up. I would be jumping up and down wanting to know the true origin of the documents. I would be tearing up with frustration about how well a 17 year old murderer could articulate himself in writing but not in person and thumping the table about the ignorance of the “experts” of the time. I would be praising Burnet for allowing the characters to build themselves and the setting from their own writings and rolling my eyes at anyone who disagreed with me on any of the above. I’d be interrupting like Trump interrupting Hilary…you get the picture.
If you want to get your heart racing with an intelligent, slightly grisly, thought provoking page turner laced with historical and social insights, this is the book for you. Conclusions are drawn, but you are left to form your own entirely. Just another thing I love in a book.
His Bloody Project has been longlisted and now shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016 and with the final winner due to be announced next week, I am worried for the others. Promise me you will read the Preface and the Acknowledgements for the full experience.