By chance John McNeill was away from home when soldiers came to wipe out the inhabitants of Blackriggs, the village where he lived for all his life. But John (18) witnessed this terrible occurrence, and consequently has to run for his life to escape those who would silence him to stop him speaking about what he saw. Set in the near future in a newly independent Scotland, where the government’s Land Reform Act has created hardship and opposition, bringing into being the rebel NLA, The Witness is compulsively page turning. John is not alone as he crosses an often hostile landscape, trying to reach safety and his father who was also away on the day the soldiers came. His companion is Ninian, a small boy found by John near the burnt-out village; Ninian is not only young, and it soon become obvious that he has very special needs.
How John deals with Ninian whose actions frequently lead them into greater danger, brings another dimension to the story. John is compelled not only to re-examine events in his past, but also to come to terms with actions he must take to ensure that he and Ninian, who, it seems, is of more political significance than John at first supposed, remain free to tell what happened at Blackriggs. Layers of John’s personal defence are stripped away, as he, Ninian and Lila, a young woman who befriends him, struggle to elude capture. This is a story that will entertain readers, but will give them much to think about too.