Tuesday, November 22, 2016

VBT + #Giveaway: Doc's Codicil by Gary F. Jones @GoddessFish

Doc's Codicil
by Gary F. Jones
GENRE:  Family humor, mystery


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?

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.


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.”

Guest post:

The teacher who taught me to write.

Whatever skill I have as a writer I owe to Joe Thicke, the English teacher I had through all four years of high school. Having a teacher for four years would have been unlikely had the school been larger. There were only about 200 students, and that was freshman through senior year. That fit a rural community of 912.

He was a little sparrow of a man, although his glasses made me think of an owl. As a freshly minted college graduate, he was only about eight years older than my classmates and me. We were one of the first classes he had as a teacher, and after four years, it was clear we were his favorite class. That’s not to imply he didn’t have a temper. I remember him going in seconds from normal to beet red and bellowing when the son of a school board member pulled some nonsense in class.

Mr. Thicke enjoyed teaching writing and literature, and taught them no matter what the syllabus said was supposed to be covered. He taught me how to write a sentence, how to structure a paragraph and an essay, and introduced me to the Elizabethan, Cavalier, and Restoration poets, the satirist Jonathan Swift, and the eighteenth century novelists Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, and Voltaire. At least those are the ones I can remember after fifty years.

My fondness for Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling may have been partly due to the release of Tom Jones, the movie, in 1963. Sex had been a taboo topic in public until then—married couples in movies and on television slept in twin beds—until Tom Jones hit the screen. Ministers and teachers thundered against the movie, which probably doubled the audience.

Thicke discussed the book and the movie in class. He approved of both. I saw the movie six times, and still remember the comic use of narration and the harpsichord. Because of Thicke, I was probably a better writer when I graduated from high school than I am now, but at that age I had nothing to say. I’ve run into enough walls since then to have learned a little about life.

Mr. Thicke didn’t fare as well. A few years after I graduated, he seemed to suffer a nervous breakdown and died by his own hand.


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.



$20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.


Unknown said...

Again, thank you for hosting

Victoria Alexander said...

Great post - I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing :)

Unknown said...

Victoria, glad you liked it. There are quite a few as good or better in the book.

Mary Preston said...

What a fun concept. I'm going to love this.

Unknown said...

Thanks Mary. I hope you find it a blast. If you're in a cold part of the country, you will empathize with some of Doc's problems with the weather.