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"Superb" - The Times

The Testament of Gideon Mack

The Testament of Gideon Mack
published by Hamish Hamilton, is available from all good bookstores in the real world and online.

For another interview with James Robertson and notes on The Testament of Gideon Mack for reading groups visit The VP Book Club.


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Points of View

Dogs and Volcanos?

There appear to be influences of Malcolm Lowry's 1947 novel Under the Volcano. The Day of the Dead is a vital element of Lowry's novel and a main character ends up in a ravine. The dead dog thrown after him contrasts with the the live dog trying to scrabble to safety in the last paragraph of Gideon Mack. There seem more subtle influences than these but who can tell what is the case?

M.R., Dundee

Right Bat Channel, Wrong Bat Time?

Gideon watched 'Batman' on a Saturday afternoon? Most of us watched it on a Saturday evening. But what does such trivia matter when a man's soul is the issue?

F.B., Glasgow

A Case of MS?

i have read the book and i think that Gideon had multiple sclerosis – the uncontrollable arm fits, the leg, the conversing with the devel, the unexplained and somewhat deviant sexual urges all point to indicators of the disease. some bits do make sense others don't but i enjoyed this book and will look for no further meaning.

S.L., Dumbarton

Caps On or Off?

The message for me seems to be that loyalty to the Devil breeds truthfulness whilst loyalty to God breeds deceit. Funny how we sceptics still honour them with initial caps. Just in case we get a slap on the back of the napper.

P.J., Dunfermline


James Robertson must have an intimate knowledge of the fears and doubts of most, if not all of God's people. He combines and elevates same, at the same time compressing it all into a Steampot, about to explode, but when? Or is it If?

The background, allegedly in Scotland, Mother of mothers of folklore and Secrets...perfect.

Thoroughly enjoyable, with an abundance of Life-truths, most not even having to be dramatized, as Life is Life.

Underplayed, yes, as it just enhances the pleasure as well as uneasiness, of the reader, believe you me.

And Doubt, an all enhancing, hindering demon, reads this tale with one, producing questions, some not answerable for the time being.

Bless you.

S.S., County Durham

Bad, not Mad

Having subsequently stumbled across reviews of the said memoir, I would rather discount the issue of mental illness in favour of Gideon having actually met with the Devil – much more fun, and a prospect that allows us to entertain the potential existence of a force of good, also.

A.T., Norfolk

On the One Hand...

This is going to sound quite silly, but I was wondering why it is Gideon's LEFT arm that twitches, not his right. Because the right is associated with the Devil I assumed that it had been his right, until I read the book again. I guess the significance that I read in the arm was not really there?

M.S., Cambridge

Fact or Fiction?

I have just finished reading the book, this may sound silly, is this book based on real events or is it fiction?



I did begin the book thinking this was a factual book and was intrigued but by the end was left unsure if this was fictional or not – I decided to ‘google’ it and found this website – I am now even more intrigued and would love to one day visit Monimaskit (if it really does exist).

L.R., Liverpool

Mr Mack and Dan Brown

Hello there, i actually read this book twice and have tried and tried to decide if i as a reader had to or wanted to believe if there is any true in this story.

I just can not believe that this book has not sold more than da vinci code. What dan brown done with the jesus and mary m situation i personally believe that james robertson has done with mack and the devil is so much better.

When i read this book for the first time i sort of thought okay excellent book but a little far fetched, so i thought what the hell (no pun intended) i need to read this again , it was only the second time of reading that it made me think that this book is telling the truth or is it fiction but the detail is so good the characters were so believable . Oh i have to admit there was one particular church elder who i do wish mr mack had flattened him.

I have believe in me that there is some thing after we leave this life and this book can only help people believe in that the truth is most murders or deaths in this world are cause thru what people believe it seems to me that god and the devil sit and laugh at the idiots of this world.

C.E., Tyne & Wear

Recent Sightings?

It sent shivers down my spine and warmed and saddened my heart in equal measure.

Mr Robertson what are you up to now? Have you seen him lately?


False Faces

Monimaskit? Forget the GPS location: there must be many small towns where the ‘many-masked’ folk don't quite reveal all.

M.G., Rosemarkie

Mixter Maxter

The location is based on a mix-up between Laurencekirk and neighbouring Inverbervie. There is even the Gannochy Gorge just by Fettercairn.

P.S., Aboyne

Birking up the Wrong Tree?

I visited Aberfeldy some time ago and can’t help but recognise ‘the black jaws’ as the Birks of Aberfeldy, even down to the bridge. Does anyone else see this?

N.M., Kilbarchan

Up or Doon the U.P. Brae?

I have no view on the whereabouts of Monimaskit, but I am confident that Ochtermill is Bridge of Allan. Moreover, I suspect that Gideon's father must have ministered at the former Holy Trinity, now Bridge of Allan Parish Church rather than Chalmers Church. This is because of his father's bicycle. The parish of Chalmers was that of upper Bridge of Allan and the declivities involved would have made a minister think twice about a bicycle. It is impossible to maintain a dignified demeanour when cycling uphill at a 45 degree angle. The Holy Trinity parish, by contrast, is almost completely flat.

C.H., Lenzie

Monimaskit is Montrose

It is beyond any doubt in my mind that Monimaskit is really Montrose. I recognised many of the less admirable characteristics of the local worthies immediately. I have not visited Montrose for many years, having emigrated to Canada to better myself in the 1960s, but I remember reading about a minister there called Mac-something who came to a Bad End. I believe he later became an anarchist and an alcoholic. Surely this is proof positive that I am right.

G.S., Burlington, Ontario
Monimaskit is not Montrose

There is no question of Monimaskit being Montrose, which differs in many ways from the town described in The Testament of Gideon Mack. I believe Monimaskit to be, as Mr Patrick Walker wrote in the Epilogue to that book, 'the product of 'a mind terminally damaged by a cheerless upbringing, an unfulfilled marriage, unrequited love, religious confusion and the stress and injury of a near-fatal accident'. In other words, a total fabrication.

K.P., Monymusk, Aberdeenshire
Ferry Unlikely

Could Monimaskit by any chance be Broughty Ferry?

L.W., Broughty Ferry, Dundee
No Such Place

I gather some people think that the name Monimaskit is merely a coded substitute for Montrose, Arbroath, Monifieth or some other such community on the east coast. Haivers! There is no such place. The topographical evidence as supplied in the Gazetteer of Scotland and by Gideon Mack in his ‘testament’ is contradictory and downright misleading. The coastline seems somehow to have shifted inland to nestle almost in the shadow of the Grampians. Either that or the mountains have moved to within a few miles of the North Sea. I suggest anyone attempting to prove the true identity of ‘Monimaskit’ check out the OS co-ordinates given in the Gazetteer. They will find that these supply a chilly and damp restorative to the senses!

D.P., Kirriemuir, Angus
One Who Upholds the Truth but Quotes from Fiction

It is interesting, is it not, that ‘One Who Upholds the Truth’ has lifted entire sections of his or her potted biography of Gideon Mack from the pages of The Testament of Gideon Mack, the very book which he or she then goes on to denounce. This looks like very slipshod work – or a red herring thrown into already murky waters, perhaps by those very ‘persons in whose interests it is to make dubious assertions about Mr Mack’ against whom ‘One Who Upholds the Truth’ rages. N.McD., Inverness
Collessie Bagged?

Sir - So, Monimaskit is surmised to be either Montrose or Broughty Ferry. Do your readers know nothing of their country? Surely I am not alone in noticing the heavy similarity with the Fife village of Collessie whose nearby standing stone is still frequented by the more lunatic fringe?

B. M. Assynt, Cupar, Fife
Shooting the Messenger

Is Gideon Mack the same minister whose virulent hatred for "that fat fraud in a red suit" led him to discharge a small firearm at the electrical Santa adorning the chimney stack of his neighbour? I seem to recall a small piece in the Press and Journal in which he promised to pay for a new illumination if charges were dropped, so long as the replacement was a representation of something associated with the nativity. The householder accepted, and put in an order for an illuminated sheep.

U. N. Ramsbottom, Aberdeen

Faces in the Black Jaws