‘The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley’5/27/2015
“If there was a running motif throughout my brief life, it would be the close and present nature of death. I’d known it intimately from the start.” So begins the last day in the life of funeral home employee Paddy Buckley. His mother died when he was 4, his father when he was 33, and his wife and unborn daughter two years ago. When the story begins, Paddy has no idea his end is so near.
Three days earlier was quite a day for Paddy, a caring and upright young man. First, he visits a lovely widow to arrange her husband’s funeral, but after consoling her, it turns out he will instead need to work with their even lovelier daughter on the arrangements for a double funeral. Later, one of his colleagues comes to him in a panic after the wrong body is delivered from a mortuary in London, and Paddy is led to deceive that family to avoid having an open casket funeral. Then he is called out in the middle of the night to attend to a death in a nursing home. While driving home from that call at 3 a.m. in the rain, he accidentally hits a man. When Paddy gets out to check, he realizes that he has killed the brother of Dublin’s most notorious crime boss, Vincent Cullen. Worst of all, Paddy knows that if Cullen finds out, he’ll have Paddy killed. And as you can probably tell from the title, Cullen does indeed find out.
Jeremy Massey has drawn from his experience as a third-generation undertaker to write an edgy, sometimes violent and darkly comic thriller that I couldn’t put down. CV
Shirley Shiffler grew up in Urbandale, graduated from Drake (twice!), and lives in Beaverdale.