The Professor of Truth

James Robertson. Other Press, $15.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-159051-632-4
Big life-and-death questions lie at the center of Robertson’s contemplative new novel, but its premise is as commercial as that of a bestselling thriller, amped up by real-life roots. Still haunted by the deaths of his wife and daughter in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland more than 20 years ago, British literature professor Alan Tealing gets a surprise visit from a man named Ted Nilsen, who asks him provocative questions. After some verbal fencing, Nilsen explains that he’s a retired American intelligence officer with information that Tealing, who has made a second career of gathering information about the crash, will want to know. Like many others, Tealing believes that Khalil Khazar, the man convicted of the bombing, was not responsible. When Nilsen challenges him to deepen his investigation, the professor, conveniently on sabbatical at the time, accepts. The Scottish tragedy provides the framework for a deeper philosophical treatment of justice and loss and grief, all well served by Robertson’s measured, literary prose. Robertson (The Testament of Gideon Mack) makes a case for the messy complexity of truth. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/17/2013
Release date: 09/10/2013
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