John Charles Poe, a small-town reporter in Crowley, Virginia, drinks a lot of bourbon and works because he doesn't have to. The heir to the family fortune, he has just received the most unusual part of the Poe legacy-the casket. The three-foot-long wooden box contains the notes and personal papers of the Poe men dating back to the eerie and mysterious Edgar Allen. It is passed on to every male Poe on his thirtieth birthday. John Charles has sworn not to divulge its secrets, but a call from his oldest friend, Roderick Usher, on the verge of a breakdown, may justify a broken oath.