A “mesmerizing” (The New York Times Book Review) true story about a shocking crime and a mysterious illness that will forever change your notions of how we punish and how we heal—an expansion on one of the most popular This American Life episodes of all time, now with a new postscript
“A remarkable medical detective story–cum–memoir, grippingly told . . . I was drawn in by every part of it.”—Atul Gawande, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Being Mortal
Fresh out of medical residency, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer joined a rural North Carolina clinic only to find that its previous doctor shared his last name. Dr. Vince Gilmer was loved and respected by the community—right up until he strangled his ailing father and then returned to the clinic for a regular week of work. Vince’s eventual arrest for murder shocked his patients. How could their beloved doctor be capable of such violence? The deeper Benjamin looked into Vince’s case, the more he became obsessed with discovering what pushed a good man toward darkness.
When Benjamin visited Vince in prison, he met a man who appeared to be fighting his own mind, constantly twitching and veering into nonsensical tangents. Sentenced to life in prison, Vince had been branded a cold-blooded killer and a “malingerer”—a person who fakes an illness. But it was obvious to Benjamin that Vince needed help. Alongside This American Life journalist Sarah Koenig, Benjamin resolved to understand what had happened to his predecessor. Time and again, the pair came up against a prison system that cared little about the mental health of its inmates—despite more than a third of them suffering from mental illness.
The Other Dr. Gilmer takes readers on a riveting and heart-wrenching journey through our shared human fallibility, made worse by a prison system that is failing our most vulnerable citizens. With deep compassion and an even deeper sense of justice, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer delves into the mystery of what could make a caring doctor commit a brutal murder. And in the process, his powerful story asks us to answer a profound question: In a country with the highest incarceration rates in the world, what would it look like if we prioritized healing rather than punishment?
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Two doctors are connected by a name, an employer, and a senseless killing in this fascinating true-crime story. Dr. Benjamin Gilmer knew that he coincidentally shared a last name with Dr. Vince Gilmer, the beloved doctor who’d previously worked in his position at a small North Carolina clinic. But Benjamin was shocked to discover something he and the previous doctor didn’t share: Vince Gilmer murdered his own father. Horrified and intrigued, Benjamin and journalist Sarah Koenig (of the landmark podcast Serial) embarked on an investigation, discovering the shockingly decayed state of Vince’s mental health—both then and now. We were astounded by how incisively this moving tale exposes the sorry state of the mental health system in the United States, especially in its prisons. The Other Dr. Gilmer is a captivating search for answers…and for justice.
Very well written illuminating true tale of injustice.
I first learned about this book from my alumni magazine as I attended the same medical school as the author and am originally from the same area that this true story takes place in. True crime stories are not usually my preferred genre to read but my connections to the area, and being a psychiatrist, peaked my curiosity. To my pleasant surprise the story was captivating and very well written. I highly recommend this book!