Review: His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

Posted in Blog by - April 21, 2017

His Bloody ProjectHis Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s no mean feat, pulling off a taut psychological murder mystery while confined to the tight box of fictional 19th-century documents, yet Graeme Macrae Burnet does it.

His antihero is 17-year-old Roderick Macrae, who has the soul of a poet and the misfortune to have been born in a literal dead end, a woebegone coastal farming village. Clearly Burnet has done thorough research; his finely detailed setting is more the star of his story than poor Roddy or any of his supporting cast of flat but colorful Dickensian characters.

The storytelling is confident, the pace brisk. The narrative unfolds with the inevitability of a Greek tragedy; we see everything coming and yet are compelled to see events through to the bitter end.

And yet… you know that sensation when you reach the top of a staircase and there’s one less step than you thought? At the end of His Bloody Project I felt a little like that. But I was still glad I’d made the climb.

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Rick Schindler grew up in the idyllic northern suburbs of Buffalo, N.Y., a psychic stone’s throw from Archie Andrews’ hometown of Riverdale. His writing career began at age 15 when he won a New York Times award for a short story published in his high school literary magazine. At 19 he interned on the copy desk of the Buffalo News, where he discovered a knack for headline writing that has served him in good stead until the present day. He went on to a checkered media career that has included stints at HBO, TV Guide and NBC News Digital, where today he is a writer and editor for the website of the venerable American TV show TODAY. Schindler shared a 2012 Sigma Delta Chi award in online reporting with NBC News’ Bob Dotson for the “American Story with Bob Dotson” features on He also won two 2012 awards in headline writing from the American Copy Editors Society, another in 2014 and two more in 2015. Schindler lives in White Plains, New York.