Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Mandolin Case by Dr. Tom Bibey - Book Review

The Mandolin Case by Dr. Tom Bibey is, as the sub-title says "a Novel about Country Doctors, Honest Lawyers, and True Music."  That might be all I need to write to send readers of this blog cascading to the usual sources to buy this very good read.  Readers familiar with Dr. Bibey's very entertaining blog already know the cast of characters in this book. Now they get a chance to read the whole story of how Dr. Henry (Indie) Jenkins and his friend Dr. Bones Robertson take on the medical establishment in Harvey County, NC over the mysterious death  of Blinky Wilson.  Along the way, readers are introduced to a delightful cast of characters who are, for the most part, interesting and likeable people.  As a reader you come to care about Indie, Bones, Snook, Tag, Gibson Taylor, Marley Mason and all the other people who traipse through this entertaining, humorous, and engaging journey among worlds you might think don't interact very well: bluegrass music, medical error, golf, and court-room drama, but it all works.

Dr. Tom Bibey is the pseudonym for a real physician/musician who lives and practices in rural North Carolina.  He prefers to maintain his anonymity, but bluegrassers in his region are pretty well clued in.  People who have come to know him through his writing on line realize that he often deals in coded language that takes a little deciphering to figure out.  In The Mandolin Case he uses such language, well-crafted dialogue, and straight-forward story telling to present a tale that grabs readers early and keeps them involved to the very last page.

Blinky Wilson has died in the hospital under somewhat mysterious circumstances suggesting that an overdose of a usually benign pain killer administered by Dr. Jenkins is responsible.  Jenkins, a locally beloved and respected "country doc" is blamed by the hospital administration and the grieving widow, both of whom seem to have reasons to want Indie out of the way.  What ensues is a delightful romp through the several worlds the characters inhabit.  Many of the people in The Mandolin Case are bluegrass players who get together weekly to jam.  Several of them find the music to have therapeutic as well as recreational value.  Like many people in the bluegrass world, they play music at a level below professional, but with a high degree of competence and pleasure. A characteristic of bluegrass music is the truth and honesty of its lyrics and tunes.  Much of the pleasure of this book lies in watching the trusting world of bluegrass musicians encounter the less reliable world of malpractice lawyers and hospital administrators.  Fortunately, many of the characters are also golfers, another activity where honesty and truth are a central value.  As these world interact, relate, and clash the truth emerges with a series of twists that keep the reader involved to the last page.

The Mandolin Case represents a new paradigm in book publishing.  Readers were first introduced to Dr. Tom as well as the characters in his book through an Internet blog.  Over the past couple of years, as the book emerged, Bibey was busy creating a ready-made audience for it.  He continues to write at least twice weekly at Dr. Tom Bibey's Weblog where he posts about the real world of bluegrass music and the coded, fictionalized world of small town medical practice as well as letting us keep an eye on his golf game.  Furthermore, he has started another web site devoted to marketing his book and following a mandolin he has started traveling about the country to help introduce people to the joy of playing bluegrass music.  The Mandolin Case can be ordered from Amazon.  If you click through from The Madonlin Case web site to order, Dr. Bibey will get credit for the sale. You can also order autographed copies from his web site.  In recent months, Dr. B has been attending a few bluegrass festivals where he sets up his booth to sell and sign books as well as meet and greet new friends in the bluegrass world.

The Mandolin Case is published by Ford, Falcon, & McNeil (Chattanooga, TN) 2009-2010, ISBN 978-98-9827252-0-7 and sells for $18.00.  Support your local independent bookstore by asking them to  order it.  Also available from Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and Borders.