Book reviews, Crime/mystery/noir, Historic, Literary fiction, Man Booker Prize

His Bloody Project: book club’s verdict

As you’ll know by now (cos we keep shouting about it!), the Book and Brew book club is an official shadow judging group for this year’s Man Booker Prize. Fancy, eh?

We were given His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet to read. It’s had a lot of buzz since the shortlist was announced – it’s the little book from the little publisher that’s out-selling the bigger names – so we were pretty excited to get our hands on it.

His Bloody Project competition
This is my excited face.

A special book club meeting was held last Sunday to go through our thoughts…and boy did we debate this one!

Book and Brew review
Blackwell’s Newcastle kindly hosted us for this special book club

What’s it about? 

It’s a story about a 19th century Scottish crofter who kills three people in his village. That’s not a spoiler, we know it up front and the rest of the novel considers the event from various points of view. There is a large diary-style retelling from Roddy, the murderer, as well as ‘found documents’ from the coroner and transcripts from the trial.

What did we like about it?

We loved it!

The structure of Burnet’s novel and the reliability of the information he presents to the reader make you question every piece of information you receive in this book. It subtly weaves layers of detail together to present a narrative in which multiple outcomes are possible, none of which the author specifically advocates.

Readers will query everything in this book, from the detail of the events, trustworthiness and motivations of the characters, to their own moral stance on the ideas of responsibility and truth.

It’s a wonderfully complex novel without being contrived, and it’s delicately crafted despite the harrowing subject matter.

Alison said it was a contender for her book of the year!

What didn’t we like about it?

Not much, really.

I felt the legal proceedings of the latter part of the novel meant it didn’t flow as easily as the earlier sections, but that really is clutching at straws for a criticism.

From its innovative structure to its multi-layered narrative, this deserves the Man Booker Prize and gets the Book and Brew seal of approval.

Check out the group’s reviews on Reading Groups for Everyone and an interview with the author here.

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