Review of "Bones of the Past," a single story in a collection by Jennie Coughlin

Take Jan Karon's Mitford, but add in an edge. Listen to the whispers about the Irish Mob.Avoid the easy answers when Exeter residents run head on into the tough questions of life.  

“Bones of the Past” is one of those stories that you hope has an author biography at the end of it, preferably one that tells you where you can read more of the author’s works. Fortunately, “Bones of the Past,” as part of the series “Thrown Out: Stories from Exeter,” delivers on both counts.

For this story, Coughlin’s combines skilled writing with an interesting subject to create a world so real that the reader feels more like they are watching a movie than reading words on a page. In “Bones of the Past,” a small town’s resident story teller wields his craft for a woman eager to learn more about a dark mystery in the town’s past. The dialogue between the characters is flawless both in its realism and its artistry, and the transitions from the storyteller’s flashbacks to the present are clearly and cleanly done. The characters are so realistic they seem familiar to the reader, the hallmark of a practiced and talented writer.

Everything about “Bones of the Past” is professional grade, from the writing to the story line, the characters to the pace of the story. There is no action to speak of, no gimmicks or plot twists, no sex or violence or touching, tear inducing scenes (well, maybe one) or attempts at social commentary, none of the things that so often provide entertainment for readers. Yet somehow “Bones of the Past” hits the mark solidly and leaves the reader wanting more. 

4/5 stars
Reviewed by Aubrey Bennet

Buy this collection on Amazon or B&N.


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