A brutal murder has been committed and Robert Macrae is guilty… or is he? Well, yes. There’s not actually much doubt about that. But that is not the heinous crime we are here to discuss. No, ladies and gentlemen, the book recounting this murder hereby stands accused of being a cracking good read.
*Murmurs in the gallery*
Let’s call the prosecution to the stand, shall we…
Thank you your honour. What I personally found so compelling about His Bloody Project was how it was reminiscent of so many other great Scottish works. It was in the vein of Confessions of a Justified Sinner– atmospheric and layered. It held references to other works, most notably Ossian, famous for being a hoax, which not only dated the story, but also created a reminder not to trust the source material.
The opening frame really helped to set the scene and present this long-standing literary tradition. I particularly liked how it went on to present the tale through multiple lenses. All the different voices muddled together and created a compelling account. It was great to feel like I was piecing together all the clues as the details built up.
One of the most significant pieces of evidence was the parent’s story. The mother’s reputation allowed for uncanny elements to arise and gave the story an air of the gothic. The father, a never-had-it-so-good kind of man, was rough round the edges and reminded me of the patriarch in House with a Green Shutters. Notably, both men refused their sons an education and, more significantly, came to represent the hopelessness of being trodden underfoot by authority. His presence in the story added further to the haunting tones, particularly in the mirroring with his children, as doubling is always a popular technique in gothic literature.
However, the greatest point of interest was the protagonist and confirmed murderer. I observed a peculiarity in his nature- wavering between seeming incredibly guilty and remarkably innocent. His actions in his childhood denoted some savagery… but also a desire to protect and save. There were hints throughout of odd dealings- but nothing concrete. Indeed, it is a strange account, overladen with inconsistencies.
Very good, very good. Now, in the interest of fairness, let’s call the defence to the stand (which oddly enough is going to discuss the book’s flaws):
That said, by the end of the book, the only mystery remains was whether the crime was sexually motivated or revenge driven. Other than wondering who the primary victim was, there was little left upto the imagination. It was a pity in my view- it could have done with a tad more intrigue and questions left unanswered.
All in all, I find the defendant: guilty as charged. *Murmurs in the docks*. I hereby hand down the sentence of:
Okay- so I hope you enjoyed my silliness! And have you been accosted by this book? What evidence can you bring to the table? Report to me in the comments!