Graeme Macrae Burnet – 2015 Saraband Books
Shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize this hugely original work of fiction was well deserving of its place on the shortlist.
Written as a true account this book tells the story of a triple murder in the Scottish Highlands in 1869, resulting in the arrest, incarceration and trial of Roderick Macrae. Note the same name as the author – this book had me convinced and only a google search confirmed this was a work of fiction!
Following his arrest Roderick confesses to the murders and writes a memoir while in prison, confirming his guilt. This memoir forms the first of three separate sections which make up this book. The memoir tells Roderick’s story prior to the murders, detailing his life and hardship in the village of Culduie. This section serves to create empathy with Roderick and his family and understand the motives for the murder.
The second section casts doubt on the account of Roderick Macrae, The Medical Reports detail the injuries sustained by the victims and raise questions about the motive. Finally the book concludes with the third section, The Trial, which unsurprisingly pulls together all of the evidence into a tight conclusion.
This book was an extremely well written and accessible crime story. Not thrilling but definitely not needing to be and interesting in so far as the victim and perpetrator are both known at the outset, making this, in my opinion a very clever piece of fiction. I loved the format of the memoir and the official documents of the trial and medical reports, which as stated previously were written as if they were factual events.
Highly recommended 5 star reading.