The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley: A Novel

The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley: A Novel - Jeremy Massey ** I received this in a Goodreads “First Reads” giveaway (via Penguin Random House Canada) **

Paddy works for Gallagher’s, the best funeral home in Dublin. Since the death of his wife and unborn child two years earlier Paddy has thrown himself into his work. He suffered from insomnia anyway so he made himself available for the calls that came at all hours of the day and night. Death is not a 9 to 5 occupation. His boss likes him. The bereaved are comforted by him. His coworkers respect his professionalism as well as his friendship. His life is not remarkable but it does seem to be on an even keel, at least until one week in October.

On Monday, a widow making arrangements for her husband dies, and Paddy may have been a little bit responsible for her heart attack. Then the wrong body is shipped to Gallagher’s and Paddy needs to convince the family to have a closed casket to cover up the error. Could things get any worse? Always!

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning Paddy is driving home from a late death call at a nursing home when he is distracted for a moment and hits a man crossing the street. When Paddy jumps out of his car to see if the man is all right he discovers he is not. In fact, the man is dead. The name in his wallet identifies him as Donal Cullen, the brother of Dublin’s biggest crime boss, Vincent Cullen. Paddy panics, hops in his car and drives away.

Tuesday afternoon, after a (needless to say) sleepless night, Paddy finds himself sitting in Vincent Cullen’s garden to help him make the funeral arrangements for Donal. Vincent seems to like Paddy, but as the title of the book suggests … Vincent eventually figures things out.

At 285 pages this is not a long book and I defy any reader to want to put it down before turning the last page. After intending to read a little with my breakfast and morning coffee, I finished it about four cups later and just in time for a late lunch. What better way to spend a Sunday morning?

I like Paddy and his story is an excellent telling of what happens when someone makes a split second decision that ends up going horribly wrong, no matter what he does to try and make it better. I like Paddy’s friends and their unflinching willingness to help him even at the expense of their own safety. There was a little romance mixed in to the chaos. There was even a dog.

The only warning I could give to potential readers is that there are a few very graphic descriptions about the "behind the scenes" involved in preparing a body for the casket and about cremations. Information that Vincent Cullen intends to put to use for revenge. But don’t let that dissuade you from picking up this book – just close your eyes during those scenes.

Best classified as a dark comedy this is an excellent debut novel by Mr. Massey.