ACIS member Tom Phelan’s latest novel, Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told, was just released by Arcade Publishing, a division of Skyhorse.
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.
About his latest work, Tom Phelan says, “The relationship between Protestant and Catholics in southern Ireland is a new theme for me. Also new is wrestling with the dynamics that evolve when family members are unable to speak to each other, and even hate, despise and visit physical harm on each other. Many rural Irish people I knew lacked the tools to resolve family or neighborly differences. They just stopped speaking to each other.
“Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told involves a murder mystery, but for me the “mystery” is secondary, merely a frame to hang everything else on. The focus is on character and community. The preservation of a small section of rural Ireland in the 1940s and ‘50s is presented through the characters who become involved in the removal of a community cancer.”
Publishers Weekly calls Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told a “witty novel” and notes that the “humor and the plentiful details of the farming lifestyle do much to enrich Phelan’s entertaining murder mystery.”
Tom Phelan, who grew up on a farm in Mountmellick, Co. Laois, and now lives in New York, is also the author of Nailer, set against the backdrop of the Irish industrial schools, and The Canal Bridge, a story of Ireland and the First World War, as well as several other novels.
On Tuesday, February 17, Phelan will read from Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told at the Irish American Writers and Artists salon, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Cell Theatre in Manhattan.
At 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 28, at the Rockville Centre (NY) Public Library, he will discuss “Life in Rural Ireland in the Mid-20th Century” and read selections from Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told.