The novel is divided into three distinct parts:
James Robertson uses a “framing narrative” where the prologue and the epilogue, written by Patrick Walker, set up and then provide information that helps us understand the manuscript written by Gideon Mack. This sets the scene for Mack’s story and provides the reader with information and context to help them better understand and interpret his version of events.
Writing in 2005, Patrick Walker explains how he came to be in possession of Gideon Mack’s manuscript and provides information about Gideon’s life and background and the events leading up to his strange disappearance and death.
Patrick Walker aims to be dispassionate. He comes across as sceptical and attempts to explain events in a factual way.
This creates a sense that the story is based on real events. It also creates a contrast with the voice of Gideon that comes across in his manuscript
Written in late 2003 and early 2004 by Gideon Mack, this provides the main narrative of the novel and makes up the majority of the text.
Mack provides a detailed insight into important aspects of his life, character and personality. For instance, we are told about his childhood and upbringing, his religious faith, his marriage and relationships as well as his meeting with the Devil and his subsequent expulsion from the Church.
Again the epilogue is written by Patrick Walker. It is largely made up of notes from Harry Caithness about his visit to Monimaskit to conduct interviews with some of the people who knew Gideon Mack.
This allows a number of characters to give their own side of the story and their interpretation of what happened to Gideon.
A key part of this report is the testimony of Elsie Moffat. She disagrees with Gideon on various points. This suggests that either, he, she or both of them are not entirely honest.
However, Elsie does suggest that some of the supernatural events of Gideon's account may be real.