cover image The Coffins of Little Hope

The Coffins of Little Hope

Timothy Schaffert, Unbridled, $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-609-53040-2

It's small town, big drama in Schaffert's sublime latest (after Devils in the Sugar Shop) as Essie Myles, an 83-year-old widowed obituary writer for a small Nebraska newspaper stumbles onto the story of her life. The paper's printing press has been working double-time since a New York publisher contracted it to print part of the print run for the final installment of a wildly popular YA novel series—part of a plan to keep the book's contents under wraps—and Essie kicks into high gear as well when she gets a tip from a local that her daughter, Lenore, has been abducted by her photographer boyfriend. But the more Essie digs, it becomes less evident whether the tale is true or the concoction of a lonely woman desperate for attention. Meanwhile, parts of the YA novel are leaked, the missing person story blows up, and the once quiet town suddenly finds itself on the national stage. Schaffert spins out the story and its offbeat characters with compassion, spoofing the nation's voracious appetite for "news" and suggesting that perhaps not all stories are created equal. Piercing observations and sharp, subtle wit make this a standout. (May)