When Houghton Mifflin senior editor Anton Mueller told Toronto agent Anne McDermid that he wanted to preempt Canadian author Nino Ricci's new novel, Testament, there was only one problem: Ricci himself was traveling in the Galapagos Islands, and couldn't be reached for his agreement. Agent and editor therefore cleared it with his wife, Erika de Vasconcelos, also a well-known author, and Ricci, finally reached by shipboard phone, was pleased to ratify it. The book, which is Doubleday Canada's lead title this spring, is described as a Rashomon-like story of the life of Jesus, perceived here as an ordinary man. Mueller was so struck by the book that he made an "aggressive" offer for U.S. rights within 48 hours of receiving it, and will publish a year from now.