Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Doc's Codicil

Doc’s Codicil is a mystery told with gentle humor. It tells the story of a veterinarian who teaches his heirs a lesson from the grave. 

When Wisconsin veterinarian Doc dies, his family learns that to inherit his fortune, they must decipher the cryptic codicil he added to his will—“Take Doofus squirrel-fishing”—and they can
only do that by talking to Doc’s friends, reading the memoir Doc wrote of a Christmas season decades earlier, searching through Doc’s correspondence, and discovering clues around them. Humor abounds as this mismatched lot tries to find time in their hectic lives to work together to solve the puzzle. In the end, will they realize that fortune comes in many guises?

The house was dark except for the pool of light thrown by a lamp behind my chair and small multi-colored Christmas lights surrounding the window on my left. The lights gave a dim but cheerful glow to the edge of the room. The crystal, silver, and pastel globes on the Christmas tree standing against the opposite wall reflected that light, and as the furnace kicked in, the reflections danced across the wall, betraying currents of warm air moving gently about the room.

Heat, wonderful heat. I gave my wine glass a twist to celebrate feeling my toes again. The liquid ruby swirled round the glass, as I offered a silent toast to Mary, may she sleep soundly tonight. On the second glass, I was startled by a swoosh of air exhaled by the cushion of a wing-backed chair to my left. I glanced at the chair, but couldn’t bring it into focus. Contacts must be dirty, I thought and returned to my book.

I . . . poured a third glass. This had to be the last. Tomorrow would be another fourteen-hour workday. I took another bite of Stilton, crumbly yet creamy, a pungent and savory blue with a background of cheddar, when I heard a throat clear.

I put my book down and looked around the room. Empty.

. . .  A shadow moved in the dining room . . . “Who’s there? What the hell is going on?” I whispered.

A man’s voice came from the kitchen. “Cripes, some host you are.”

Set up to appeal to readers of allegorical fiction, in the vein of J.P. Kotter, Spencer Johnson, Ken Blanchard and others, I would call this more fictional memoir than mystery.
People who are interested in large animal veterinary medicine themed memoirs will also appreciate sections. In truth, I really have no other book to compare this to.

Set between a 1987 Christmas Nativity event (worst pagaent ever) and the 2013 reading of Doc's will, and the mentioned codicil, the underlying idea of each story is to keep family together and build a stronger connection.

Told via a memoir type manuscript written by Doc shortly before his death to describe ill conceived dreams and unprepared plans and by the narrative of Doc and Linda's heirs attempting to solve riddles required to gain their sizable inheritance, this is a book from which I believe each reader will take away something different.

According to Gary Jones, his life has been a testament to questionable decisions and wishful thinking. His wife of forty years, however, says she knows of nothing in the record to justify such unfettered optimism. Jones says the book is a work of fiction; that's his story, and he’s sticking to it.
He’s part of the last generation of rural veterinarians who worked with cows that had names and personalities, and with dairymen who worked in the barn with their families. He’s also one of those baby boomers, crusty codgers who are writing their wills and grousing about kids who can be damned condescending at times.

Gary practiced bovine medicine in rural Wisconsin for nineteen years. He then returned to graduate school at the University of Minnesota, earned a PhD in microbiology, and spent the next nineteen years working on the development of bovine and swine vaccines.

Doc's Codicil is the bronze medal winner of Foreward's INDIEFAB Book of The Year awards, humor category.


  1. Thanks for hosting.
    If I might further describe the story, it is a book within a book (think Sarah's Key, but with laughter). It also has s character a bit similar to the Huko, the six-foot invisible rabbit in Jimmy Stewart's movie old movie "Harvey."

  2. Great review, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one!

  3. What is the best book that you have read recently? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  4. I can't name one book. Lets take them by genre
    9 Lovers for Emily Spankhammer, for humor. It's a gas.
    All the Light We Cannot See, for literature
    The 5th Wave, for Science Fiction
    The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being by Alice Roberts (Evolutionary anatomy--Hey, I'm a veterinarian and a docent at a zoo)
    Anything by Alan Roberts for comic mysteries
    Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods, for travel & humor
    The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, by Steven Pinker, for psychology (how humans learn)
    Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David
    Sedaris, for essays.

    I can't miss mentioning Ron Rash's Serina and The Cove. Depressing but riveting.
    And "The march of Folly" for history

  5. I should add that our zoo has a nice collection of primate skeletons on display. I wouldn't know what to look for in comparing them if it weren't for Alice Roberts's book.

  6. Which Christmas cake and/or dish do you like best?

    1. My favorite is desert--a Boch de Noel with chocolate/coffee frosting and an orange almond cake. I use an old recipe from one of Julia Child's cookbooks. I have to confess that I'm also very fond of fruit cake. I haven't made one for 20 years. The last one I made, I overdid the rum and amaretto I soaked it with every week for 6 months. When my daughter (10 years old at the time) tried to eat it, she put a fork into it and said, "Mom, the cake squirted at me.) It was good, but high octane.

  7. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)


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