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Tom Phelan

Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told

Part human comedy and part mystery, Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told is a story about what holds a village together and what keeps people apart. When journalist Patrick Bracken returns from England to 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 boy, 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 were witnesses.

And so Patrick goes to see the elderly 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 death of "Doul Yank" Lawrence Gorman–what emerges from their collective memories are a pungent, wry portrait of village life in Ireland.

From the Reviews

"[A] witty novel from Phelan….The bawdy humor and the plentiful details of the farming lifestyle do much to enrich Phelan’s entertaining murder mystery."
–Publishers Weekly

"Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told is a masterful portrait of Irish village life disguised as a murder mystery…Phelan finds humor and warmth in every poignant moment."
–Shelf Awareness

"Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told is not only a mystery but a marvelous coming-of-age tale, and a fascinating look at life in a small Irish town in the middle of the 20th century."
–5-star review on

"Having read all of Tom Phelan's novels I think Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told is the best. Some of it is extremely funny but there is an underlying plot which cleverly comes to a satisfying denouement at the end. I can't wait for his next novel!"
–5-star review on

"This is a book you want to read slowly so you can savor each page. It was wonderfully witty yet serious, and certainly transported the reader back to a simpler time in rural Ireland. I found myself alternating between laughing out loud and wiping tears. Great read!"
–5-star review on


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ISBN-13: 978-1628727548 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-62872-428-8 (hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1-62872-470-7 (ebook)
Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told is published by
Arcade Publishing