The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley -book review

The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey  is about a Dublin undertaker whose life is suddenly turned upside down by a strange series of events. Paddy Buckley is a middle-aged widower, who leads a routine existence dealing with death in Ireland.

He is a good decent man, who sees his job as a solemn duty to provide a dignified farewell to the deceased, while at the same time providing comfort to the surviving relatives. Paddy’s life is a series of repeated rituals consisting of embalming, funeral masses and burials.

Then one late night, driving home  in the rain, Paddy hits and kills a pedestrian who steps into the road. Of course, Paddy stops and is about to call the police until he sees who the man is. The man Paddy has killed is none other than the brother of Vincent Cullen, the most notorious and violent gangster in all of Ireland.

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Even though it was an accident, Paddy knows that Vincent Cullen will surely murder the man who killed his brother. Paddy takes off in his car, leaving the body behind.

Paddy’s predicament becomes worse when a few days later Vincent Cullen chooses Paddy’s funeral parlor to arrange the elaborate services for his brother. For some reason, Vincent takes an immediate liking to Paddy. Vincent brings Paddy into his inner circle, even inviting him home and treating him as a new best friend. Is this a genuine friendship, or is the gangster just toying with Paddy prior to taking revenge?

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The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley was written by Jeremy Massey, who himself is a third generation undertaker from Dublin. In addition to having a great main plot, the book provides a behind the scenes peek into the hidden world of undertakers. We find out details like what the “ashes” of the deceased are really composed of,  and the tricks for quickly dressing a dead body. There is even a lesson on what to do if an undertaker loses the body.

This is a fun book to read. After you have finished it you won’t look at your local funeral parlor the same way again. You may find yourself passing the mortuary in town and wondering, “What’s really going on in there?”

 

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