Graeme Macrae Burnet – Case Study (2022)

Graeme Macrae Burnet is an expert at creating something fictional and making it seems realistic, more than that, he can make you believe that the event or person actually existed. Such was the case of His Bloody Project, which was about a fictional murder taking place in 1869, disguised as true crime. Once again, he does the same thing with Case Study.

The book begins with the author (presumably) being given six notebooks which contain information about the (fictional) psychotherapist Collins Braithwaite. The notebooks themselves were written by a lady who thinks that Braithwaite drove her sister to commit suicide. In order to pull off her investigation she assumes a false persona.

As she visits Braithwaite, she starts believing in her new identity and Braithwaite’s unorthodox methods of psychotherapy create confusion, until it comes to a point where this character by coming to terms with her past is creating an inward battle of her real persona and fake one.

This is all quite meta. To add to this, GMB creates a complete biography of Braithwaite which conclude each notebook, which does help tie up some details found within with the lady’s narrative.

The actual murder itself is just a cover up. What really emerges from the text are a number of themes. Mainly reality vs fiction. All the characters battle with an unreal self, yet what differentiates these characters is how they deal with it, Despite Braithwaite being seen as a crackpot, there is a lot of good advice which does make sense and help us understand why we are all phonies.

Case Study also doubles as a history of psychotherapy. As I stated before, Graeme Macrae Burnet is a stickler for detail, which is why his plots mirror reality so well. There is historical accuracy so it is interesting to see how the discipline developed and was viewed.

Incidentally does the main protagonist manage to solve the mystery? It’s open to interpretation. That’s all I’m going to say here.

Did I like the book? I loved it. The writing, plot, characters. Everything was brilliant. Case Study played around with my brain and made me giggle a bit in the process as there are quite a few humorous moments. One thing though, I hope that GMB never becomes a minister of propaganda he’d be too good at his job and make us ordinary citizens believe a lot of things.

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