The crime is clear: Roderick Macrae, a young crofter in the Scottish Highlands, murdered three people on a summer’s day in 1869. But the story is less straightforward, layered by Burnet with great precision and intrigue as a series of documents, including Macrae’s own articulate and ostensibly candid confession, that give this invented crime the structure of unearthed fact. The result is not so much twisty as inexorable (though it does carry a twist or two), a tale of power and resistance but also of madness and delusion that reminded me of Janet Lewis’s The Wife of Martin Guerre and of Thomas Hardy’s bewitching stories of rural doom. It’s a provocative page-turner, both satisfying and, in the best way, unsettling.
—Tom Nissley, Phinney Books