The Mandolin Case Cover- A Mystery

        I had planned another post about my agent today, but I’ve put if off a day or two. I have breaking news. Last night I got an e-mail from my publisher and they asked me to go ahead and release the cover of my book.

        Okay folks here it is, and also here’s the story behind it.

        Long before anyone had heard of a carbon fiber mandolin, Indie predicted they would one day be an item. “Bibey,” he said. “If we can put a man on the moon, someday they’re gonna make guitars and mandolins out of this space age stuff. You wait and see. They’ll be indestructible. They won’t warp even if you leave ’em in the trunk of the car.”

        Several years before “The Mandolin Case” a man came through Harvey County and showed Indie a synthetic prototype mandolin made out of carbon fiber. He claimed it sounded as good as a mandolin made of spruce and maple tonewoods, but was impervious to the elements. The man wanted Indie to invest in his company. Indie liked the mandolin but was a conservative investor. (Colorful as Indie was, he always said a good investment was a boring mutual fund.) He declined to buy any stock in the man’s company, but didn’t forget the mandolin.

        I didn’t see this mandolin when the man came through, but Indie described it to me. Years went by and I forgot about it. However, when I began to research the back story of “The Mandolin Case,” discussion of the prototype synthetic mandolin resurfaced. Indie would say, “Son, that carbon fiber mandolin was the clue wasn’t it? I’m not sure we’d have found out without it.” Then he’d take a sip of Jim Beam and drop the subject.

          All I knew was it was a carbon gray “F” style mandolin. Indie said at that time it was the only one he’d ever seen that didn’t have the traditional F holes. After the publisher read the story they decided this mandolin was so significant it needed to be on the cover. They asked me to forward a picture.

         I had a dilemma. I not only didn’t have a photograph, I’d never even seen it. All I could do was describe it to the best of my ability. It was somewhat like those composite sketches the police do when they search for a suspect.

        What to do? Indie was gone and I couldn’t ask him. Dang, I should have done the cover first. The publisher sent dozens of drawings. One morning I sipped my coffee and opened my e-mail. I jumped up to call. “That’s it, that’s it! I’m sure that’s the one; well at least as sure as I can be given I never laid eyes in  it myself. Where did you find it?”

        “We tracked it back. The e-mail was bogus. The trail went cold. Address unknown. We don’t know.”

         So there you are. All this research, countless hours of interviews with everyone who would talk, and I still have one last mystery on my hands. Indie knew the synthetic mandolin was a player in the case; he told me so many times. 

        Someone out there knows another clue about ‘The Mandolin Case.” Hm. Maybe they know the Navajo or perhaps it was the Navajo who sent it in. 

        I know the truth about “The Mandolin Case,” but of all the ironies I don’t know where the mandolin on the cover came from. All I can tell you is I am sure whoever sent it in has to be someone on the inside, and I won’t rest until I get to talk to them. If you run into them let me know.

       Dang that Indie. He had a great memory and didn’t bother to document much. Why didn’t he take a picture? It woulda saved me a lot of trouble. Oh well, we’ll find out.

Dr. B

Explore posts in the same categories: Book Characters, Mandolin Case, Musical Instruments (Pictures), Writing

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22 Comments on “The Mandolin Case Cover- A Mystery”

  1. Ponder Says:

    Hey Dr. B –

    I really like the cover. Lean towards the 6 string, but have never seen soundholes like the one on that mandolin, coming out of the ground. I like the way it’s pointing too. When will the book be available?

  2. Billy Says:

    Here I thought you were pulling our leg all along. You, got me interested now. And where did you find that mandolin? Never saw one like that. Have you talked to the guys at Mandolincafe to see if they know about it?

  3. L. M. May Says:

    Congrats on the cover being out! Good luck figuring out who provided the mandolin picture….

  4. Bob C. Says:

    Congratulations! That’s a great cover, intriguing enough to whet the appetite, and also an enticing sub-title. The cover leaves unanswered the question, is the mando going into the ground, or out of it? Hmmmmm…..

  5. Laura Says:

    Yeah! I get to be the first blogger to congratulate you! The cover looks fantastic, I know you and the little lady are jubilant. Congrats!

  6. junebugger Says:

    THAT is a LOVELY cover!!!! I literally squeeled and leapt of my chair when I saw this. Ohhhh how happy you must be!!!!!!!!! I am SO happy for you! You, sir, have come a long way, I’m sure. And as a fellow writer I truly do admire that you’ve arrived at this day that all aspiring writers are struggling to get to. When is the publication date?

  7. drtombibey Says:

    Thanks so much guys,

    A wild doc day this AM, but here is the quick scoop.

    It is indeed a wild story, and the mandolin on the cover has significant symbolism. The search for it is on.

    I should be able to make a formal statement of a release date no later than June 14.

    To my blog pals I gotta say I’d never gotten here without your encouragement and thoughts.

    More soon.

    Dr. B

    • Carmen Claypool Says:

      GREAT cover! Can’t wait to hear “the rest of the story.”


      • drtombibey Says:


        It is some more kinda bluegrass mystery. And it fits. In my life the bluegrass people have been the good folks over and over. Often the rest of the world will scratch their heads and wonder what the heck all that was about.

        Dr. B

  8. Hi! The photo was taken by Chattanooga photographer Jesse Guardiani, and designed by yours truly 🙂 was a lot of coming up with the concept and seeing it come to fruition. One of my favorite projects!

    • drtombibey Says:


      Great job. I don’t know if you realize it but you and Mr. Guardiani have stumbled onto one of deep mandolin secrets in the world of Harvey County.

      So much more to follow and thanks so much.

      Dr. B

  9. Lua Says:

    Dr. B,
    I absolutely love the cover- the book looks just perfect! 🙂 And thank you for sharing that interesting story behind the picture with us…

    • drtombibey Says:


      Thanks so much. In the story mandolins are often symbolic of different events. This one is central to the story because it represents what happened to Blinky. (He was Indie’s best friend)

      By the time you finish the story you will be able to talk about sensitive confidential medical events in broad daylight because you will understand the code talk of “The Mandolin Case.”

      You will know of things most people outside of medicine never see. After that others will not understand what you know unless they also read the story.

      Dr. B

  10. Gail Says:

    Dr. Tom
    If you’re looking for a venue over Labor Day weekend the Metamora Old Time Music Festival in Metamora, IN (that’s southeastern IN, just about an hour out of Cincinnati) would be proud to have you and your book stop by. The Sat and Sun of Labor Day we offer music, workshops, and fun; free and open to the public. Check us out at

  11. drtombibey Says:


    That sounds like a good one. I am not sure what we have Labor Day but will keep this one in mind.

    We hope to see it all before we get too old to go.

    Dr. B

  12. Levonne Says:

    Congrats on the book cover Dr. B! I see that you have been to my blog and I appreciate your comments. Thanks so much for your support and encouragement!!

  13. DR. B I’M SO EXCITED! Wow, that cover is just… WOW. It’s beautiful. And intriguing. And I LOVE that it’s another mystery in the case! There’s something so spooky but wonderful about that – something like this cropping up right before your book comes out.

    Seriously now, Dr. B, I can’t tell you how happy I am for you to have the book coming out [and for me that I’ll get to read it] and how much I admire you for sticking with it all these years and having hope and never giving up. Now you’ll be able to claim three wonderful professions – doctoring, playing the mandolin, and writing novels.

  14. drtombibey Says:


    The cool thing about all this is that Indie was able to discuss the case in broad daylight. Because the details were encoded in mandolin talk only the true people knew what the heck was being discussed.

    In “The Mandolin Case” I’m gonna lay out the code so my readers will be in on it too.

    Dr. B

  15. Simpkins Says:


    Thats a cool looking cover , and congratulations on your book, I’m getting excited and looking forward to reading it ,I’m sure it will be a very good book.


  16. Great Article! I am an indie musician and love meeting like minded folks. Music is my passion in life and it reflects in my work. I will be back here often to read your new posts!

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