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.
The quality of Robertson’s story telling is in the character depiction of not only Mack but all the other characters. Novel readers, like playgoers, suspend their disbelief as they sit down to enjoy their books. My disbelief was suspended several feet up throughout the time I read this fascinating story which only gains from its contemporary setting in the 21st century. Highly recommended.