Tag Archives: Kathleen Ernst

A day in the life of Chloe Ellefson by Kathleen Ernst

All I wanted was a week away. A breather from my misogynistic boss, Ralph Petty. I work as curator at a huge outdoor museum called Old World Wisconsin, and although I love it, Petty can make life difficult.

So I was pleased to learn that I was being “loaned” to Pendarvis, a sister site, to help assess collections storage needs. The site preserves several homes built for the Cornish immigrant families that arrived in the 1830s to mine lead in southwestern Wisconsin.

I’m passionate about immigrant history, and especially love delving into the experiences of those sturdy souls who left little behind to document their experiences. Most of the Cornish immigrants were illiterate. With few exceptions, their material possessions would have been functional items, used up and worn out. I’m especially hoping to learn more about the first Cornish women to arrive.

Besides, the Pendarvis curator, Claudia, is a friend. I really expected the week to be a break from all things stressful.

But the day my boyfriend Roelke and I arrived in town, we learned that administrators were considering closing Pendarvis. Why? Supposedly because too many funds had been funneled to my site, Old World Wisconsin. After hearing that news, some of the locals are not looking kindly on my visit.

Then, Roelke discovered human remains buried in an old Cornish cottage near Pendarvis.

And then it became clear that someone at Pendarvis is keeping a deadly secret.

So it’s safe to say that my days here as guest curator are not at all what I’d expected. Today Claudia didn’t show up for work. Her boss has disengaged. The staff resents me. Town residents are upset. And a killer is wandering among the quaint stone buildings on the site.

One thing is clear. If I can’t figure out what’s going on, I could soon become history myself.


You can read more about Chloe in Mining for Justice, the eighth book in the “Chloe Ellefson” mystery series.

Digging Up Secrets Uncovers a Legacy of Peril

Chloe Ellefson is excited to be learning about Wisconsin’s Cornish immigrants and mining history while on temporary assignment at Pendarvis, a historic site in charming Mineral Point. But when her boyfriend, police officer Roelke McKenna, discovers long-buried human remains in the root cellar of an old Cornish cottage, Chloe reluctantly agrees to mine the historical record for answers. She soon finds herself in the middle of a heated and deadly controversy that threatens to close Pendarvis. While struggling to help the historic site, Chloe must unearth dark secrets, past and present, before a killer comes to bury her.

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About the author
Kathleen Ernst is a former museum curator who remains passionate about history! In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards. Connect with Kathleen at www.kathleenernst.com, Sites and Stories blog, and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

A Day In The Life with Chloe Ellefson by Kathleen Ernst

A Memory of MusketsAll I wanted to do was host a good special event at Old World Wisconsin, the big historic site where I work as a curator. A Civil War reenactment, to be exact. Nothing hokey, just some top-notch reenactors spending the weekend helping visitors understand how the war impacted people in Wisconsin—especially newly-arrived German immigrants. Enlistment rallies, a recreated draft, war relief efforts, things like that.

Preparations are not progressing smoothly.

My maniac boss decided that visitors won’t respond positively to anything except a big battle reenactment. He sort of threatened to fire me if the Civil War event did not go well. And just for good measure he dumped a big make-work project on me.

Then a reenactor was found dead at our restored 1860 German farm. He wasn’t carrying ID, and so far, no one has been able to identify the man. The cops aren’t sure if his death was accidental. . .or a case of murder.

I’d like to report that I’m finding comfort and solace at my new home, but that’s become a source of anxiety too. My boyfriend, Roelke McKenna, recently purchased the old farm that his ancestors established in the 1850s. I love everything about the farm except the bad vibes lingering in the original cabin, which Roelke wants to fix up for me. It would be great to have my own private space, but honestly, the sense of hopelessness I feel in the cabin is so strong that I can’t bring myself to step inside.

I began researching Roelke’s family, hoping to discover the source of the bad energy, and. . .well, let’s just say I found something disturbing. Evidently Roelke’s great-grandmother Rosina, who came to America from Germany at the tender age of sixteen, faced some challenges of her own during the Civil War.

I love being in a relationship with Roelke. I’m committed to learning as much as I can about Rosina. I just hope my research doesn’t ruin my personal life.

I also love being a curator, and I’m committed to seeing this Civil War reenactment through. I just hope that when the reenactors fall in, there isn’t a killer isn’t in the ranks.


A Memory of Muskets is the seventh book in the Chloe Ellefson mystery series, published by Midnight Ink, October 2016.

Curator Chloe Ellefson is happily planning to spotlight home-front challenges and German immigrants at Old World Wisconsin’s first Civil War reenactment―but her overbearing boss scorns her ideas and proposes staging a mock battle. And when a reenactor is found dead at one of the historic site’s German farms, Chloe’s boyfriend, cop Roelke McKenna, suspects murder.

The more Roelke learns about reenacting, the more he fears that a killer will join the ranks at Chloe’s special event. Then Chloe discovers a disturbing secret about Roelke’s Civil War-era ancestors. Together they struggle to solve crimes past and present . . . before Chloe loses her job and another reenactor loses his life.

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About the author
Kathleen Ernst is a former museum curator who remains passionate about history! In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. Over 1.7 million copies of Kathleen’s 34 titles have been sold. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards. Connect with Kathleen at www.kathleenernst.com, Sites and Stories blog, and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a signed and personalized print copy of A Memory of Muskets. The giveaway ends October 12, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck!

My Musing ~ Tradition of Deceit by Kathleen Ernst

Tradition of DeceitTradition of Deceit by Kathleen Ernst is the fifth book in the “Chloe Ellefson” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, October 2014

Curator and occasional sleuth Chloe Ellefson is off to Minneapolis to help her friend Ariel with a monumental task. Ariel must write a proposal for a controversial and expensive restoration project: convert an abandoned flour mill, currently used as shelter by homeless people, into a museum. When a dead body is found stuffed into a grain chute, Chloe’s attention turns from milling to murder.

Back in Milwaukee, Chloe’s love interest Roelke has been slammed with the news that a fellow officer was shot and killed while on duty. Sifting through clues from both past and present, Chloe and Roelke discover dangerous secrets that put their lives—and their trust in each other—at risk.

The co-mingling of time is explored in this mystery that became a journey of self-discovery for Chloe and Roelke. This was a well-written tale that I could not put down, quickly becoming a page-turner. Every nuance, every action, every discovery pulled me in in this telling drama of murder and secrets uncovered. I love that we continue to see the emotional growth of Chloe and her relationship with Roelke and how it takes shape with each murder case they become involved in. This is another great book in a terrific series and I’m looking forward to more time spent with Chloe, Roelke and their friends.

Another Day In The Life of Chloe Ellefson by Kathleen Ernst

Tradition of DeceitMy day will be spent crawling about a creepy, enormous, long-abandoned flour mill. The Washburn A Mill in Minneapolis, to be exact. It’s a long way from Old World Wisconsin, the rural farm museum where I’m employed as curator of collections. But visionaries at the Minnesota Historical Society are hoping to turn the mill into a museum. I’m here to help my friend Ariel develop an interpretive plan.

In theory, the museum is a great idea. The Washburn Mill, completed in 1874, was once the world’s largest flour mill. New milling techniques industrialized the production of a basic food item for the first time in history. The mill gave us Gold Medal Flour and Betty Crocker.

Ariel, however, is afraid to go inside the place. It’s spooky, I must admit—cold, dark, damp, and filled with dangerous old machinery. People who are homeless live here. Kids dare each other to sneak inside. Drug dealers do business in the shadows.

And then there’s the disturbing fact that during my first tour of the mill, we discovered a professor’s body in a rusty hulk called a turn-head distributor.

I’d rather be spending a peaceful day at my own historic site, topped by sharing dinner with my guy. Officer Roelke McKenna and I haven’t been a couple for long, and time together is something to savor.

But Roelke is in Milwaukee with troubles of his own. His best friend was killed in the line of duty. Rumors that Rick was drinking on the job are flying around the Milwaukee Police Department. Roelke doesn’t believe it, and he’s focused on finding the truth. So focused, in fact, that he’s shut me out entirely.

So I’m trying to figure out why an architectural historian was killed in the Washburn A Mill. Ariel’s on the edge of an emotional meltdown, lies are being told, secrets are being kept, and my boyfriend isn’t returning my calls.

And to think, some people assume the history world is boring…


You can learn more about Chloe in Tradition of Deceit, the fifth book in the “Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites” series, published by Midnight Ink. The first book in the series is Old World Murder.

Giveaway: Leave a comment by December 12 for a chance to win a trade paperback copy of TRADITION OF DECEIT. The giveaway is open to residents of North America.

Meet The Author
Tradition of Deceit is Kathleen Ernst’s thirtieth book. In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Old Mill-181Sites series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. Over 1.5 million copies of Kathleen’s titles have been sold. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards. Visit Kathleen at her website or on Facebook.

Heritage of Darkness by Kathleen Ernst

Heritage of DarknessHeritage of Darkness by Kathleen Ernst is the fourth book in the “Chloe Ellefson” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, October 2013

Dark Secrets Hidden in Norwegian Traditions

For curator Chloe Ellefson, a family bonding trip to Decorah, Iowa, for rosemaling classes seems like a great idea—until the drive begins. Chloe’s cop friend Roelke takes her mother’s talk of romantic customs good-naturedly, but it inflates Chloe’s emotional distress higher with each passing mile.

After finally reaching Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Chloe’s resolve to remain positive is squashed when she and Roelke find Petra Lekstrom’s body in one of the antique immigrant trunks. Everyone is shaken by the instructor’s murder, and when Mom volunteers to take over the beginners’ class, Chloe is put in the hot seat of motherly criticism. As she investigates, Chloe uncovers dark family secrets that could be deadly for Mom . . . and even herself.

This was very enjoyable as it was fun learning about the Norwegian history and cultures as well as watch Roelke and Chloe solve a murder that hits a little too close to home. I love how the chapters flowed from the past to the present from one point of view to another without missing a step. The mystery kept me guessing and I was a bit surprised when the killer was revealed as I didn’t see that one coming. What I like best was we got to know more about Chloe, her mother and Roelke and I’m so glad it ended the way it did. Heritage of Darkness is one of the best books in this terrific series and I can’t wait to see where we are headed next in Chloe’s corner of the universe.

A Day In The Life With Chloe Ellefson by Kathleen Ernst

Heritage of DarknessSince I’m officially on vacation, my days should be pretty darn good. Unfortunately, things aren’t quite proceeding as planned.

Everything started because I truly want to improve my relationship with my mother. Mom’s great passion is rosemaling, also called rose painting. It’s a traditional Norwegian folk art. When I saw that Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa, was offering Beginning and Advanced week-long workshops in early December, I suggested that we both sign up. A little mother-daughter bonding would be good for us, right?

Roelke McKenna, whom I have been dating, looked at the course catalog and decided to take the woodcarving class being offered the same week. I was pleased by that…until the three of us got in the car for the drive from Wisconsin to Decorah. Mom regaled Roelke with tales of traditional courtship and marriage customs. Hint, hint. I was ready to jump out the window.

Then, when we arrived at the reception being held for instructors and students, Mom’s instructor was a no-show. We all learned why when I discovered her in an antique immigrant trunk. Someone had attacked her, right there in the museum, and left her there to die.

The next morning, I found out that my instructor was moving up to teach the advanced class, and Mom has been assigned to teach mine. I knew that arrangement would never work; that my perfectionist mother would be all over my case.

I also found out that I’d been “volunteered” to help with a folklore project by interviewing local resident about Norwegian-American Christmas traditions. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking to senior citizens. And I am a museum curator, so folklore is right up my alley. But some of the cozy holiday traditions we all enjoy have some pretty dark origins. Not the most pleasant topics to discuss on a cold, dark night…with a murderer still on the loose in Decorah.

So a typical day for me this week? Let’s see…fall farther behind in my rosemaling class, feel the tension grow between me and Mom, delve into what the old-timers refer to as “the power of darkness,” try to squeeze in a few minutes here and there with Roelke, dig into troubling family secrets, and—oh yes, help catch a killer.

A killer who might just be coming for Mom and me.


You can read more about Chloe Ellefson in Old World Murder, The Heirloom Murders, The Light Keeper’s Legacy, or Heritage of Darkness, published by Midnight Ink.


Leave a comment for a chance to win any one of Kathleen’s Chloe Ellefson mysteries—winner’s choice! Contest ends October 20, 2013.


Meet the Author
Heritage of Darkness is Kathleen Ernst’s twenty-seventh published book, and over a million copies of her titles have been sold. In addition to the Chloe Ellefson series, she has written many books for American Girl, including seven books about the newest historical character, Caroline Abbott. Several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards. The Heirloom Murders won the Ann Powers Fiction Book Award by the Council For Wisconsin Writers, and The Light Keeper’s Legacy won the Lovey Award for Best Traditional Mystery at Love Is Murder. For more information, visit Kathleen at her website, her blog, or on Facebook.

The Light Keeper’s Legacy by Kathleen Ernst

Lightkeepers LegacyThe Light Keeper’s Legacy by Kathleen Ernst is the third book in the “Chloe Ellefson” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, October 2012

Past and Present Collide Beyond Death’s Door

Solitude at last! Museum curator Chloe Ellefson leaps at the opportunity to be a consultant for the historic lighthouse restoration project on Rock Island, a state park in Wisconsin’s scenic Door County. Hoping to leave her personal and professional problems at home, Chloe’s tranquility is suddenly spoiled when a dead woman washes ashore. Determined to find answers behind the mystery, Chloe dives into research about the island’s history and discovers the amazing, resilient women who once lived there. But will the link between the past and present turn out to be a beacon of hope or a portent of doom?

I love how the author blends the past and present into a wonderfully written whodunit that captured my attention in this intriguing page-turner that I could not put down. When I open a book by Ms. Ernst, I know that the story is going to take me back to a period long time ago giving me insights in the past on a collision course with the present that will have Chloe searching for clues to a present day crime, and bonus is I get a little history lesson at the same time. This was very enjoyable read with a mystery that was fun to unravel along with Chloe and I look forward to the next book in this terrific series.

On A Hunt For Clues With Chloe Ellefson by Kathleen Ernst

Here on the island, my day begins with sound. Sometimes I wake to the blare of a freighter’s horn as it passes through the narrow Rock Island passage below Pottawatomie Lighthouse. Sometimes I wake to the chorus of a thousand birds, reminding me that humans are the visitors here.

But lately, the faint echo of children’s laughter has nudged me from sleep.

I didn’t expect that last one. When I was invited to spend a week on Rock Island, in Lake Michigan off the tip of Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula, I expected to find peace and quiet. The past few months have been tumultuous—a new job with a boss who really doesn’t like me, a new man in my life who’s really got me confused about romance, and unwanted involvement in a couple of murder cases.

So when I was offered a consultant gig at Pottawatomie Lighthouse, I happily took leave from the historic site where I work as a curator, and settled in. Volunteers and park staff are doing a magnificent job of restoring the remote lighthouse to its former glory. I’m going to research and write a furnishings plan for the structure.

My week of longed-for solitude got off to an unexpected start, however, when I found a body on the beach below the lighthouse. I also got a strange vibe from an old photograph of a woman who once lived at Pottawatomie with her family. I’ve always been able to perceive strong emotions that occasionally linger in old structures. This is the first time I’ve had a similar sensation from a photograph. Evidently my perceptive ability is developing, which I’m not altogether thrilled about.

And if that wasn’t enough to make me a bit uneasy, I’ve been hearing the sound of laughing children in the dark. OK, I told myself. If you’re going to have auditory reactions to this old building, isn’t it nice that happy children left this lingering energy? Nothing spooky there, right?

Then I stumbled into a bit of very different energy, at the nearby site of a long-abandoned fishing village—very dark, very intense. Something bad happened there. And I suspect that whatever tragedy happened on this island a century ago is affecting the present.

The deputy sheriff scoffed at my ideas. Well, he can do his own kind of investigation—very official, very proper. What I need to do is keep learning all I can about the women who once lived here…before someone else dies on Rock Island.


You can read more about Chloe in THE LIGHT KEEPER’S LEGACY, the third book in the “Chloe Ellefson” mystery series. The first book in the series is Old World Murder.

** Kathleen is giving away one (1) copy of any book from her Chloe Ellefson series, your choice. Contest open to US residents only. Contest ends October 26. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Book will be shipped directly from the author. **

Meet the author
The Light Keeper’s Legacy is Kathleen’s twenty-fourth published book. In addition to the Chloe Ellefson series, she has written many books for American Girl, including the six-book series about the newest historical character, Caroline Abbott. Several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards. Kathleen, a social historian and former museum curator, lives in Wisconsin with her business partner/husband and their cat.

You can visit Kathleen on her website, on Goodreads or on Facebook.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

The Heirloom Murders by Kathleen Ernst

The Heirloom Murders by Kathleen Ernst is the second book in the “Chloe Ellefson” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, September 2011

Dying for a Legendary Diamond?

As collections curator for Old World Wisconsin, Chloe Ellefson delights in losing herself in antiques and folk traditions—and forgetting her messy love life. But her peace is destroyed when her ex-boyfriend unexpectedly turns up, followed by a break-in at her friend Dellyn’s historic house—a potential treasure trove of priceless antiques. Was the intruder hunting for the missing Eagle Diamond, a legendary gemstone unearthed in 1876?

When a grisly murder takes place on the museum grounds, Chloe is further drawn into a mystery involving a rare variety of Swiss cheese, a nearly extinct heirloom flower . . . and plain, old-fashioned murderous greed.

When Chloe agrees to help inventory a house full of collectibles, she learns about the history of the home and its occupants, especially about the missing Eagle Diamond. Someone wants the information contained in the collectibles and will do whatever it takes to purloin those records, including murder. What a story! This evenly-paced and action-filled tale takes place in the present with snippets from the past that lends itself in this nicely-done drama. I could not put this book down from the moment I finished the first chapter where the action was non-stop until the end. There were a lot of interwoven plots that moved the story along and kept me guessing throughout most of the book. With an intriguing plot, flashbacks to days gone by and a lovable cast of characters, this was a great and enjoyable read and I look forward to the next story in this wonderfully captivating series.