The front cover of this entertaining novel declares it to be “A Novel About Country Doctors, Honest Lawyers And True Music.”
That’s a lot of ground to cover, but Dr. Tom Bibey does it with wit and a good grasp of the world of bluegrass. It’s a medical-legal mystery that involves bluegrass musicians.
It’s a little difficult to disentangle what is fiction and what might be based on real events. The disclaimer at the front of the book says it is a “…work of fiction. All of the people, places, and events in this novel are products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictional manner.” That last part, plus the author’s note at the start of the book implies that this is based on real people. If it is, I envy the good doctor for having run into some wonderful characters and having the good sense to get it down on paper.
For readers of this magazine interested in how much bluegrass is contained in the work, I don’t want to give anything away, but I’d say that the bluegrass sensibility is central to the mystery and to the characters. The author clearly knows the music and presents it with respect and honesty—something rare in any form of entertainment. The characters come across not as stereotypes, but as solid people with unique flaws as well as talents. The writing is crisp and reminded me of an Elmore Leonard-style combined with country humor and situations. Recommended. Ford, Falcon, McNeil
978-0-9827252-0-7. Paperback, 317 pp., $18. (Ford, Falcon & McNeil Publishers, www.themandolincase.com.) CVS