A Virtual Crime Book Club – A Superior Death by Nevada Barr and His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

October and November were two months when reviews started to get behind so I’ll list the books I’ve read over these past months at the bottom of this post and will review them all before the end of the year.

To begin with in this post I will deal with the two book club books that I read but haven’t reviewed. The book club sessions that I missed can be found and viewed via YouTube at RebeccaBradleyauthor

A Superior Death (Anna Pigeon Mysteries, Book 2) by Nevada Barr

Book blurb

Park ranger Anna Pigeon returns, in a mystery that unfolds in and around Lake Superior, in whose chilling depths sunken treasure comes with a deadly price. In her latest mystery, Nevada Barr sends Ranger Pigeon to a new post amid the cold, deserted, and isolated beauty of Isle Royale National Park, a remote island off the coast of Michigan known for fantastic deep-water dives of wrecked sailing vessels. Leaving behind memories of the Texas high desert and the environmental scam she helped uncover, Anna is adjusting to the cool damp of Lake Superior and the spirits and lore of the northern Midwest. But when a routine application for a diving permit reveals a grisly underwater murder, Anna finds herself 260 feet below the forbidding surface of the lake, searching for the connection between a drowned man and an age-old cargo ship. Written with a naturalist’s feel for the wilderness and a keen understanding of characters who thrive in extreme conditions, A Superior Death is a passionate, atmospheric page-turner.

My thoughts

I enjoyed this book but agree with a number of the comments in the recording below. It took a bit to get into it and there could be a bit of confusion over the place names, the characters and their names but once I got into it then it did seem easier to keep track.

A good plot and storyline it was a bit light on characterisation probably because there were quite a lot of characters but the setting of Lake Superior I enjoyed. Having once visited Chicago, which sits at the bottom end of Lake Michigan, below Lake Superior, in November and very, very cold so I can only imagine how hostile Lake Superior is especially in its more remote parts.

Overall I enjoyed this book.

This was a book club reading and you can watch the recording below. ⚠️ Mind out for any spoilers though!

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

Book blurb

The year is 1869. A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae.

A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence.

Was he mad? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the gallows.

Graeme Macrae Burnet tells an irresistible and original story about the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear. His Bloody Project is a mesmerising literary thriller set in an unforgiving landscape where the exercise of power is arbitrary.

My thoughts

This was a tough read in the main because it was quite a grim story not only because of the crimes committed but also because of the way in which most of those in the book lived. Likened to Thomas Hardy in the book club discussion for the bleakness and poverty of those times it seemed quite feasible that someone could harbour and carry out murderous thoughts.

There was plenty to talk about with regard to what the author meant the reader to understand and, indeed, whether the reader would believe the evidence being presented. This ambiguity leaves you with many questions. Whether, as a reader, you mind this may well determine your final feelings on the book.

I would not go so far as to say I enjoyed the book but it was definitely thought provoking, well written and a different kind of story.

An interesting fact regarding this book is that within a month of being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in September 2016 it had become the largest selling book on the shortlist. (The Guardian, Libby Brooks, Scotland correspondent )

⚠️ Remember if you haven’t yet read the book and intend to, don’t watch the video until you have as it contains spoilers.

Upcoming reviews

Bulletproof (Unbreakable series, Book 3) by Melissa Seal

Next in Line (Detective Clare Mackay series, Book 5) by Marion Todd

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

Killer in the Snow (DI James Walker series, Book 2) by Alex Pine

A Child’s Christmas in Wales, A Story by Dylan Thomas

I’ll be catching up with these books in the coming weeks.


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