The Other Dr. Gilmer: Two Men, a Murder, and an Unlikely Fight for Justice

Ballantine. Mar. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9780593355169. $28. CRIME
In this engrossing, powerful memoir, Gilmer recounts a story of medical mystery and criminal justice. Following his medical residency, Gilmer joined a rural North Carolina clinic and discovered he shared a last name with town’s beloved former doctor, Vince Gilmer, currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his father. As Gilmer established himself at the clinic, he found himself in the shadow of Vince and among a community reckoning with the impact of his actions. Journalist Sarah Koenig connected with Gilmer to tell his story for an episode of This American Life about coincidence, leading to his decision to meet Vince. Following their meeting, Gilmer realized there was more to Vince’s case, including undiagnosed physical and mental health issues that may have played a role. Gilmer became an advocate for Vince’s healing and uses their story to argue for prison reform, including improved medical treatment for incarcerated people. Gilmer’s narrative is gripping, and he writes deftly and with compassion.
VERDICT A haunting, insightful story of justice and humanity. Will especially resonate with readers of Christine Montross’s Waiting for an Echo: The Madness of American Incarceration.
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