The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson [London: Hamish Hamilton, 2006] is a clever contemporary fable. Robertson constructs the story such that a freelance journalist has got hold of a manuscript written by the late Reverend Gideon Mack, who, apart from being found dead on Ben Alder had previously fallen into a deep gorge, been swept away on the torrent but, very mysteriously, survived to be discovered three days later. The journalist offers the manuscript to the publisher who introduces the story, recounting how he debated long and earnestly whether or not to publish. The essence of Gideon Mack’s testament is that he was rescued by the Devil but, of course, no one believes him although his survival is clearly miraculous. Of course, the publisher, as publishers tend to do though not, for me, often enough, publishes and it makes fascinating reading.
“A fiendishly clever story written with self-assured panache as told by unreliable narrators. I was torn between a desire to race ahead to find out what would happen next and a wish to linger on and enjoy the prose. Why isn’t this a bestseller?”
Professor of Comparative European History,
Queen Mary, University of London
“Johnston’s handling of art and duplicity makes for a compelling composition – his colour and originality is tempered with enough sinister, dark and authoritative realism to entrap and engage the reader throughout.”
Philip Mould OBE, Director of Philip Mould & Company,
Specialist Dealer in British Art and Old Masters;
and co-presenter of BBC TV’s Fake or Fortune?