Have you heard the one about the Scottish minister (a secret atheist) who falls into a river and nearly drowns, but instead is rescued by the Devil, with whom he strikes up a kind of friendship? If you haven’t (or, for that matter, even if you have), then treat yourself to reading James Robertson’s THE TESTAMENT OF GIDEON MACK. Robertson turns what could have been a Stephen King-like potboiler into a thoughtful, substantial novel; his leisurely narrative ensures that, by the time you reach the book’s defining and mysterious central event, your disbelief will suspend itself without any effort. There are moral and theological issues aplenty in GIDEON MACK, but they arise naturally, as they do in life, and Robertson never belabors them. By book’s end, when one of its characters insists that “There’s nothing. No God, no Devil, nothing. No damnation, no redemption. There’s just us and what we do. The things we achieve or the mess we make,” you’re not entirely sure you can accept that; but what you can accept is the words of Herman Melville quoted at the outset: “We are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.” THE TESTAMENT OF GIDEON MACK bears witness both to the cracking and to the sad, human attempts at mending.