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The Other Dr. Gilmer

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Member Reviews

Part true crime, part medical mystery this fascinating book delves into the undiagnosed mental health crisis of America’s justice system. It raises questions of punishment versus rehabilitation and the often cruel treatment of incarcerated persons with both physical and mental disease. I will admit that I just did not connect with the cover and thus put off reading it time and again- only to tear through it once I began.  I will no doubt think of the “other” Dr. Gilmer for a long time to come. 4.5 stars. Thank you, NetGalley!
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As a fan of true crime podcasts, I really enjoyed the style and structure of this book. Fascinating story and also very informative. It all felt very timely.
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THE OTHER DR. GILMER :: Benjamin Gilmer

Holy cats. Benjamin Gilmer may be a doctor, but he could have a second career as a thriller or true crime writer, because The Other Dr. Gilmer is a barnburner. A story that, almost too bizarre to be believed on multiple levels, held me rapt from cover to cover. 

It's best to go in knowing as little as possible, because some of the links and coincidences between the two Drs. Gilmer are best when they are come across in the book and smack the reader upside the head. But a "whet your whistle" synopsis goes something like this:

Dr. Benjamin Gilmer was something of a late bloomer, a medical resident who, unlike his twenty-something classmates, was 39, married with a mortgage, one child and another on the way. He had decided on family medicine as his path and found a calling towards a rural practice. He found that at a tiny six-room clinic in Fletcher, North Carolina. After a three-year hiatus, the clinic was being reopened and desperately needed help.

Dr. Benjamin Gilmer learned that his predecessor, Dr. Vince Gilmer, had quite a story. Gilmer the second opens the book with this passage, hooking me instantly:

On June 28, 2004, in rural Appalachia, a man with my name and my profession strangled his father in the passenger seat of his Toyota Tacoma.

The morning after killing his father, Gilmer the first showed up for work as usual and saw his patients like nothing had happened. 

Benjamin Gilmer was in a tough position, coming in after Vince Gilmer (no relation) and trying to win over the patients that, UNIVERSALLY, loved their prior doctor. An upstanding member of the community, beloved by his patients, a man who, according to all reports, went above and beyond to help people and couldn't even bear to kill the mice behind the clinic. No one ever had a glimmer of what was coming.

But how? And why? Feeling the need to answer those questions, Benjamin Gilmer started investigating. Little did he know that deep dive would require all of his (and others) medical acumen, a legal battle, and end in the most unimaginable way possible.

I can't recommend The Other Dr. Gilmer highly enough. On top of a top-notch true crime mystery unfolding before your eyes, the writing of Dr. Gilmer is fabulous, keeping the story moving at a wonderful pace while keeping the complex facts, medical issues and legal process easily comprehended. This is simply one of the most amazing stories I've ever read.
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There are three things I want to say about this book, and they are things that I rarely say:

1. It made me cry (hard to do).
2. I learned a lot.
3. This book is a MUST READ.

I debated for a long time about how much to reveal about this story. I have decided that since it is a true story that was in the news (though I’d never heard of this particular case), that it was okay to share details. If you want to go into it fresh, stop reading now - but know that you should definitely read it.

Dr. Vince Gilmer was a rural doctor in the Appalachia area of southern America. He was gentle, kind, well-loved and very respected by all who knew him … until one day, when he took his father out of his healthcare facility, strangled him with a dog leash, cut off his fingers, and dumped his body on the side of the road.

Dr. Ben Gilmer (no relation) soon took his spot at the small clinic, and was horrified to hear what his predecessor had done. He was worried this tight-knit community wouldn’t accept him, especially since he is also Dr. Gilmer, and also worried that the “other” Dr. Gilmer would somehow get revenge while serving his life sentence. However, after hearing about the elder doctor and how much his patients loved him, he decided to visit the other doctor in prison to get his side of the story.

Long story short, he soon realized that Vince Gilmer was a man who was suffering. Shortly before killing his father, Vince went off the SSRI antidepressant he was on, Lexapro. As anyone who has been on an SSRI knows, when you start or stop taking them abruptly, you can literally go crazy. Was this a case of serotonin withdrawal? The other Dr. Gilmer had also been sexually abused by his father as a child, and had PTSD from that abuse. He ALSO had recently received a traumatic brain injury, which can certainly make people irrational and completely change their personalities. Was this a man with a brain that was severely damaged, or a psychopathic killer trying to make excuses for his behavior?

With all of these factors in play, Dr. Ben Gilmer realized that this doctor, who ended up defending himself in court, may not have been in his right mind when he murdered his father. He began visiting Vince more, and one day brought a colleague who noticed some disturbing physical symptoms that mimicked Huntington’s Disease. I had never heard of this, but it is kind of similar to having both Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s at the same time. It causes tics, tremors, walking issues and mental instability. The only way to find out for sure if he had it was to do genetic testing … which came back as positive for Huntington’s.

With this new knowledge, and after getting to know Vince, Ben realized that this entire situation was a miscarriage of justice. This man had multiple factors that could have caused him to “snap” and kill. He was allowed to defend himself, when it should have been clear to most people that he was suffering from a mental illness. He was sentenced to life in prison, and was left with no physical or psychiatric care - very common in the American prison system. Soon, Ben realized that he needed to step in and advocate for this man.

The rest of the book goes through the years-long process of trying to get clemency for this once kind and gentle man, and get him into a mental health facility that could help him. Huntington’s has no cure, but there are treatments that can bring some comfort as the victim’s mind and body are ravaged until they die a horrific death. I won’t spoil how it turned out, in case you are like me and had never heard of this story, but this book will keep you captivated and hoping for some justice.

I learned a lot while reading this book - not only about Huntington’s Disease, but about how so many mentally ill people fall through the cracks in our legal system. I knew it happens all the time, but the specifics of this situation are shocking. I found myself rooting for an admitted killer, and hating the people who failed him. He had been telling people that his brain wasn’t working properly, but it was brushed off as malingering. Had anyone intervened sooner, the murder may have been avoided. Why didn’t anyone see that this man was suffering? Why didn’t the legal system investigate the situation more thoroughly? Why did they automatically assume he was faking the physical symptoms he was having? WHY DID THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN?

As an advocate for mental health, I was shocked and saddened by how everything went down, as was Dr. Ben. He spent years getting to know Dr. Vince, and trying to get him out of prison and into someplace more appropriate for his situation. Again, I won’t spoil the very end, but it is very emotional and heart-wrenching. As I said earlier, this is a must-read book, and the case should be highly publicized as an example of how the American prison system just does not work. I can’t give this book anything less than five stars - it was involving, intriguing and very, very illustrative. I could not recommend it more highly, and I hope this book helps affect major changes to our legal and prison systems.

(Thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer, and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my review. I’m kicking myself for sitting on it for so long.)
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I love true crime so it was no surprise that I really enjoyed this one! This book takes us on a journey that explores a little bit of criminology- WHY people commit the crimes they do. In this case specifically, we look at SSRIs- things like antidepressants, and how they can play a role in all of this. We also learn a bit about certain medical conditions and if it’s possible for those conditions to give people violent tendencies to the point that you’ll murder them. 

I personally LOVE criminology and so so enjoyed the parts of this book that discussed the murder and the actual WHY behind it. I got bored at points when the author spent a lot of time talking about his personal life or experience leading up to this and wished he would’ve spent more time focusing on other aspects that had more potential. Overall, an interesting read if you enjoy true crime or criminology. 🤍

This one is available now, and was just published on 03/01. 
Thank you to @netgalley and @penguinrandomhouse for my ARC.
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I received a complimentary copy of this book "The Other Dr Gilmer" and all opinions expressed are my own. I struggled to get through this one. The concept of the book was interesting but I just found it hard to read. It didn't flow. Of course I wanted to find out what happened but this book wasn't something I looked forward to reading each day. I know my score is low but it really wasn't for me.
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I heard a re-aired version of the "This American Life" episode about this case. They mentioned that Dr. Benjamin Gilmer wrote a book about it, and I just had to read it. the original is here: For some reason, I can't find the episode number of the re-aired version. Listen to it before or after, it's a great companion to the book. 

This book is truly a labor of love from B. Gilmer. It's hard to do a review that will give it justice. Gilmer is an excellent writer, and the story he writes is heartbreaking. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
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When I started this book I thought I’d be reading a mystery.  While this is a mystery, it is not the usual kind.  Rather, this is a mystery whose stars are two doctors-both named Gilmer.  The mystery focuses on mental illness, the criminal (in)justice system and Huntington’s disease.  Dr. Benjamin Gilmer tells the story with passion, empathy and wisdom of how the other Dr. Gilmer became ended up in prison because no one tried to see beyond the moment he committed a heinous crime to WHY  this respected, loved doctor ‘flipped out’ one night and what was causing his sometimes bizarre behaviors.  It is a remarkable book!
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This is one of those books that I'm worried is going to fly under the radar because it's not getting much buzz - but it's absolutely terrific! It's true crime with a mix of medical mystery that makes for a wild ride (not to mention a heart-wrenching one).

Dr. Benjamin Gilmer is a family practice doctor who takes over at a rural North Carolina clinic after his predecessor (strangely enough also named Dr. Gilmer) went to prison for murdering his father. He learns that the other doctor was widely respected and adored in the community, and many people exclaimed that they couldn't believe the doctor was capable of such a crime (even though he had confessed to it). Dr. Gilmer becomes obsessed with learning the truth about the crime and about the man behind the story and goes along for a crazy journey that has him come face to face with difficult truths, including the sad state of our nation's prisons.

I want everyone to know that this book was gripping, surprising, and above all, intensely moving and is definitely worth a read. Pick up a copy now!
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Really fascinating. I liked the tie-in to prison reform. Was definitely not what I was expecting! A very unique true crime read. I think die hard true crime readers will enjoy something a little different than usual. Definitely has me thinking about the ethics of imprisonment.  I was happy to google and read that Vince was granted clemency earlier in 2022. I hope that makes it in the final publish!
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While not what I was expecting when I started the book, this was an interesting read. The beginning felt more like a story. But as you get further into it, you are taken on a journey of discovery and a fight for justice. A developing relationship between the two Dr. Gilmers … one a practicing physician and the other a murder has you anxiously waiting to see where the story will go. The author does a wonderful job of describing Huntington’s Disease and the effects it has on an individual. Because I know someone whose daughter suffered from Huntington’s Disease, it was interesting to see the parallels in their behavior and changes to their physical abilities. It is very difficult to read at times … from Vince Gilmer’s experiences growing up, the way he was treated in prison, and seeing him deteriorate because of the lack of appropriate care. This book will have you rethinking your view of mental illness and how the prison population is not provided the type of care needed.

Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for my advanced review copy. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
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Real Rating: 4.5* of five, rounded up because the issues it raises too important to ignore

The carceral economy that makes corporations wealthy is evil.

That's my bias, right there; I make no apologies for it, and if your opinion is otherwise, this review will make you angry and upset, and feel (correctly) that you are being shamed and blamed for your absence of empathy and decency. Doubled if you claim to follow a religion.

The rest of my screed is here:
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This book blew me away! I was unable to but it down. Perfect, dazzlingly, very well written. The details the author described throughout the book was so amazing. The  characters and storyline were fantastic. The ending I did not see coming  Truly Amazing and appreciated the whole story. This is going to be a must read for many many readers. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! No spoilers. Beyond amazing I enjoyed this book so very much. The characters and storyline were fantastic. The ending I did not see coming  Could not put down nor did I want to. Truly Amazing and appreciated the whole story. This is going to be a must read for many many readers. Maybe even a book club pick.
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Many thanks to Ballantine Books, as well as to @NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of <i>The Other Dr. Gilmer.</i>

This is nonfiction about a rural physician who discovers that a previous doctor at the clinic where he works shares his name and also committed a gruesome crime. This is not an unsolved cold case thriller, though. What follows is a somber and sometimes gut-wrenching exploration of how the health system and the legal system can (and do) work in tandem to fail in spectacular ways with tragic consequences. The emotional impact this book had on me left me reeling. I talked about this book to anyone who would listen for days after I finished it. If it sounds familiar, yes, it's because you heard the story on This American Life, but the book is better! I did not anticipate how much this book would touch my heart. If you liked <i>Just Mercy</i> by Bryan Stevenson, this is a good adjacent read. 

<i>The Other Dr. Gilmer</i> is the sort of book that compels you to keep turning pages, even though you're not totally sure where we are going. The story builds tension and drama, taking the characters on an emotional rollercoaster through the legal system, the mental health system, and their collective brokenness. There is small town drama, and domestic tension in Dr. Gilmer's household, but at the end of the day we are left thinking about how humans prop each other up and hold onto each other. I think the part that got to me, though, was not learning about the brokenness (I'm familiar with that), but the ways that our complacency with these broken systems plays out in daily life. One example -- the younger Dr. Gilmer takes his wife and their young children to visit the older Dr. Gilmer in prison for Thanksgiving; this experience contrasts with lifelong close friends of the older Dr. Gilmer who have not visited him once in more than a decade in prison. I spent a lot of time thinking about who shows up for us in our darkest days and what that kind of showing up can look like. It is too easy for us to accept that people are locked up, throw away the key, without questioning the conditions that led them there or the conditions they're living there once we seeing them.
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Benjamin Gilmer was excited to begin his career at Cane Creek in rural North Carolina, but was surprised to learn that the doctor who had started the clinic years earlier was also named Gilmer. Benjamin was even more startled when the story of the other Dr. Gilmer came to light; Vince Gilmer had been convicted of murdering his father, an act that the citizens near Cane Creek had trouble reconciling to the caring, concerned man they knew Vince Gilmer to be. Benjamin Gilmer is determined to understand how this could have happened, and to that end visits Vince Gilmer in prison. The medical mystery that unfolds is fascinating, as is Benjamin Gilmer’s legal fight to have Vince released from prison and placed in a hospital where he can receive the medical care he so desperately needs.

I found The Other Dr. Gilmer to be an interesting read. Benjamin Gilmer’s interest in Vince Gilmer’s case evolves slowly, at first he tries to remain uninvolved, but soon the stories about Vince’s generous spirit made him curious how a kind and gentle man could kill his father and then return to work the next day. Benjamin brings in several attorneys, working pro bono, and medical experts, in addition to the countless hours he personally spends visiting Vince in prison, seemingly to no avail. This book describes the unfortunate lack of psychiatric care that’s available to inmates, and how vitally important this kind of medical intervention is.
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Special thanks to Random House Publishing; Ballantine Books and NetGalley for the ARC of this book.

What a fascinating book. This book came out the beginning of this month and its really heartwrenching. I'm not going to give the whole book away but I will share some details to gain your interest because I have a relative not by blood but through marriage in my family that resonates here with this book.

The story in quick summary, is that there was a beloved doctor named Vince Gilmer. Loved by the community and his patients in rural North Carolina. One day, he left his practice, killed his father by strangulation, chopped off his fingers, and left him in a place where he was found rather quickly, and afterwards went back to his practice treating patients until he was caught and imprisoned. 

Weirdly enough, Benjamin Gilmer, no relation and a doctor himself, set up practice where Dr. Vince Gilmer had his, and finding out a decade later about Dr. Vince Gilmer and what he was in prison for. Dr. Benjamin could not ignore the similarities. What are the chances?.So, Dr. Benjamin became obsessed with Dr. Vince and also.scared because he hears that Dr. Vince is fuming that someone took over his practice and is threatening to get out of prison, leading Dr. Benjamin terrified. Dr. Benjamin cannot resist also being intrigued and wants to find out what led Dr. Vince, an otherwise loved and respected man to do such a thing., so Dr. Benjamin Gilmer visits Dr. Vince Gilmer in prison. Upon visiting, he finds what's left of a once great doctor and man and is shocked by. Dr. Vince Gilmer, He is twitching, his eyes roll, and he spurts out crazy ranting and raving. Dr. Benjamin knows this man is mentally sick and fights for him to get out of prison and into a psychiatric hospital, but his efforts fall on deaf ears of government officials, and the powers that be. This man needs help, not isolation! 

To this day, Dr. Vince Gilmer is still in prison, though being diagnosed and on medication. The prison system is terribly wrong sending addicts, mentally ill people to prison, instead of getting the help they need. 

Why this hits home for me is my sister in law, has a  brother who is a drug addict and is not mentally well. He reached out for help on Christmas Eve 2018, calling the hospital saying he felt he was going to hurt himself or someone else. The response? He was hung up on. He tried again....same result with a 911 operator. He then made his way to his mother's apartment and strangled her to death and then threw himself head first out of a 3 story high window. He survived but his whole face was scraped off. He had no nose. He looked very scary. After being handcuffed to a hospital bed with broken bones and no face, he was sent to River's Island and not medicated at all in a 23 hour lockdown in isolation! Yes, its a tragedy he killed his own mother, but he reached out for help 2, maybe 3 times. People with mental illness that do terrible things and drug addiction which is a disease should not be thrown in jail. Today, because of his sister's advocation and diligence, and forgiveness, he is now in a psychiatric hospital. Everyone is not so luck. 

Fascinating.5 stars!
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The Other Dr. Gilmer is part medical mystery part social justice story. At first, I was not sure where Benjamin Gilmer was going with the story. He is paranoid about Vince Gilmer for sure, but then, with the help of Sarah Koenig, he begins to dive into what happened to the other Dr. Gilmer. The story takes a very grizzly murder and turns it into a story of the mental health needs of prisoners.

Gilmer does a great job of explaining Huntingtons to the reader and also correlating the various symptoms to events in Vince Gilmer's life. By the end of the story, you will be ready to write a letter to the governor advocating changes in the way the justice system treats people with not only mental illness, but with medical conditions that affect the brain.
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Fantastic true crime story.  I liked the style and the story very much. I had never heard of this case before. I do enjoy true crime books, this was no exception. Would recommend to fellow true crime lovers.
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I will admit that I was drawn to this book due it being about a true crime case in which a country doctor, Vince Gilmer, from the Asheville area of North Carolina, killed his father, dumped his body in Virginia, and wound up serving life in prison for the crime in my home state of Virginia. It is also about the other doctor Gilmer, Benjamin Gilmer (no relation), who moved to North Carolina to become a doctor in the SAME rural practice as the infamous doctor with whom he shares a last name. But this book goes beyond these two men. It is the story of Benjamin Gilmer's journey to understand what really happened the night Dalton Gilmer was killed...and why. What led the universally beloved Dr. Vince Gilmer to commit such an act? Could all of his patient's been so completely fooled by a psychopath...or was there something more at the root of the drastic changes in his life that eventually led to the murder of his father?

In his pursuit of answers, Dr. Benjamin learns that at the time of the murder, Dr. Vince was suffering from a neurological disease, Huntington's disease, that is described as a combination of Lou Gehrig's disease, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's. Once he knows the truth of what lay behind the personality and mental changes that resulted in the murder, Dr. Benjamin began a nearly decade long pursuit of justice, not just for Dr. Vince, but also for the thousands of prisoners suffering from mental illness in prisons across the United States. 

This was a fascinating read that moved quickly, and was informative without becoming bogged down or lost in the weeds of medical or legal terminology. I would put this right up there with Just Mercy as two of the best books I have read in the last five years. Both deal with prison reform, but from different perspectives. This is a must read. 

Thank you to #netgalley and Random House/Ballentine Books for the opportunity to review this outstanding book. The opinions expressed are my own. #theotherdrgilmer
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I was really moved by this book, and that's a rare thing for me. It's impossible not to get drawn into this story. My heart broke for Vince over and over again as more and more attempts for justice failed, as Vince continued to decline further from his disease. Dr Gilmer has dedicated his life not only to being a good physician for his rural community, but for being an advocate for Vince.And all because of a wacky coincidence, that he ended up working at a practice that was previous staffed by a doctor with the same name. As a physician myself, it's hard to think of this going on. Yes Vince is a murderer - but we as a society have to accept that prison is not right for all criminals. Letting a mentally ill person stand trial and go to prison is unjust.
I had heard the story briefly on This American Life years ago, but I had no idea how far this went. I recommend everyone read this book.

Thank you Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and netgalley for giving me an advanced review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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