The Fanatic, Paperback
3 out of 5 (3 ratings)


An impressive debut from an exciting new Scottish voice - a stunning novel about history, identity and redemption.

A no. 2 best-seller in Scotland. It is Spring 1997 and Hugh Hardie needs a ghost for his Tours of Old Edinburgh. Andrew Carlin is the perfect candidate. So, with cape, stick and a plastic rat, Carlin is paid to pretend to be the spirit of Colonel Weir and to scare the tourists.

But who is Colonel Weir, executed for witchcraft in 1670.

In his research, Carlin is drawn into the past, in particular to James Mitchel, the fanatic and co-congregationist of Weir's, who was tried in 1676 for the attempted assassination of the Archbishop of St Andrews, James Sharp.

Through the story of two moments in history, 'The Fanatic' is an extraordinary history of Scotland.

It is also the story of betrayals, witch hunts, Puritan exiles, stolen meetings, lost memories, smuggled journeys and talking mirrors which will confirm James Robertson as a distinctive and original Scottish writer.




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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

interesting but the dialogue throughout the book makes it a bit jerky for me.It's about a man who's being a ghost for tourists who then gets drawn into the story of the man he's playing.

Review by

The present and historical past blur in this absorbing novel about obsession. The dialect is a hurdle, but worth the effort.

Review by

It's about history and the concept of history. It's a timeslip novel playing with the idea of history never really leaving the streets on which it happened. It's the story of James Mitchel and fantatic puritan imprisoned in Scotland in 1668 after the Presbyterians were pushed underground again after the return of the British monarchy and the story of Andrew Carlin, the man who becomes obsessed with the past from the present. And it's the story of how all religion is political and all history two sided. It's beautifully written but about two thirds of it is written in Scottish dialogue, and half of that in 17th century Scottish dialogue so you really have to keep concentrating and unlike other Scottish dialogue writers such as Irvine Welsh and Anne Donovan (who's plotlines follow the Man Takes Drugs/Has Sex/Becomes Buddhist scenarios) the story is complex and hard to follow anyway, so only read when you have your wits about you!! UPDATE:- I'm about three quarters of the way through and I have to say I'm finding it quite wearing. The way the story is constructed is excellent but the language makes it read like Chaucer, which whatever you think of Chaucer, is never a good read on a crowded train or in the evening when you're tired! I kind of want to give up, but there are only two books I've never finshed so far so I'm quite determined to continue.... AND ON COMPLETION - All the elements are there. A gripping historical story about witchcraft politics and religion in 17th c Scotland, a parrallel story set in Edinburgh in 1997 around the time of the General Election, gripping descriptions and social commentary. But it was one of the most boring books I've ever read. And I'm quite sad about that. Luckily his style does get better as I adored Gideon Mack :)