Part human comedy and part mystery, Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told is an enthralling, masterful story about what holds a village together and what keeps people apart. When journalist Patrick Bracken returns to Gohen, the Irish village where he was born, he knows the eyes of the townspeople are on him. He has come home to investigate two deaths that happened decades earlier when he was a child, deaths that were ruled accidental. But Patrick knows—and believes the whole town knows—they were murders. He knows because he and his best friend, Mikey Lamb, were witnesses.
And so Patrick goes to see eighty-year-old Sam Howard, the lawyer who conducted the inquest into the death of missionary priest Jarlath Coughlin. As he questions Sam and Sam’s vibrant, loving, gossipy wife, Elsie, he seeks acknowledgment of a cover-up and an explanation of why the Protestant establishment would help conceal a crime among Catholics. During their give-and-take—about this and the nearly simultaneous shotgun death of Lawrence Gorman (aka Doul Yank)—what emerges from their collective memories are a pungent, wry portrait of village life in Ireland and a tangle of human relationships, some twisted and some that show our better side.
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This witty novel from Phelan (The Canal Bridge) features Patrick Bracken, a 64-year-old special correspondent for the Irish Times, who returns to his agricultural hometown of Gohen. Patrick is investigating two suspicious deaths that occurred there 55 years ago, in 1951; he suspects a village cover-up took place. He visits the retired octogenarian coroner, Sam Howard, and his spunky wife, Elsie. Sam's official ruling determined that the deaths of Father Jarlath Coughlin and Lawrence "Doul Yank" Gorman were both accidental, but Patrick insists on discussing the two cases with Sam. Before the deaths, both men came under attention in the close-knit farm community: the conniving Doul Yank double-crossed his nephew Mattie on the inheritance of the family farm, and the haughty Father Coughlin lobbied the dirt-poor locals for charitable donations to operate his missionary school in India. Additionally, Patrick has vivid memories from his own boyhood that still trouble him and complicate his search into the deceptions of the village. The bawdy humor and the plentiful details of the farming lifestyle do much to enrich Phelan's entertaining murder mystery.
Lies The Mushroom Pickers Told
An intriguing story with a whole village of well developed and relatable characters. A brilliant story I began and didn’t put it down until it was finished. Life in this Irish village is so honestly and deftly woven with not only the complexities of a village, but twists and surprises the whole way through. Highly recommended.