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?
Winner of the Lovey Award for Best Traditional/Amateur Sleuth Mystery
"Chloe's third combines a good mystery with some interesting historical information on a niche subject."—Kirkus Reviews
"Framed by the history of lighthouses and their keepers and the story of fishery disputes through time, the multiple plots move easily across the intertwined past and present."—Booklist
"A haunted island makes for fun escape reading. Ernst's third amateur sleuth cozy is just the ticket for lighthouse fans and genealogy buffs. Deftly flipping back and forth in time in alternating chapters, the author builds up two mystery cases and cleverly weaves them back together."—Library Journal
"While the mystery elements of this books are very good, what really elevates it are the historical tidbits of the real-life Pottawatomie Lighthouse and the surrounding fishing village."—Mystery Scene
"Kathleen Ernst wraps history with mystery in a fresh and compelling read."—Jane Kirkpatrick, New York Times bestselling author
Digging up the history and whereabouts of the rare artifact quickly turns dangerous. Chloe discovers that someone is desperately trying to cover up all traces of the bowl's existence--by any means necessary. Assisting Chloe is police officer Roelke McKenna, whose own haunting past compels him to protect her. To catch the covetous killer, Chloe must solve a decades-old puzzle...before she becomes a part of history herself.
"Clever plot twists and credible characters make this a far from humdrum cozy."--Publishers Weekly
"This series debut by an author of children's mysteries rolls out nicely for readers who like a cozy with a dab of antique lore. Jeanne M. Dams fans will like the ethnic background."--Library Journal
"Information on how to conduct historical research, background on Norwegian culture, and details about running an outdoor museum frame the engaging story of a woman devastated by a failed romantic relationship whose sleuthing helps her heal."--Booklist
"Old World Murder is strongest in its charming local color and genuine love for Wisconsin's rolling hills, pastures, and woodlands...a delightful distraction for an evening or two."--New York Journal of Books
"A wonderfully-woven tale that winds in and out of modern and historical Wisconsin with plenty of mysteries--both past and present. In curator Chloe Ellefson, Ernst has created a captivating character with humor, grit, and a tangled history of her own that needs unraveling. Enchanting!"--Sandi Ault, author of the WILD Mystery Series and recipient of the Mary Higgins Clark Award
"Propulsive and superbly written, this first entry in a dynamite new series from accomplished author Kathleen Ernst seamlessly melds the 1980's and the 19th century. Character-driven, with mystery aplenty, Old World Murder is a sensational read. Think Sue Grafton meets Earlene Fowler, with a dash of Elizabeth Peters."--Julia Spencer-Fleming, Anthony and Agatha Award-winning author of I Shall Not Want and One Was A Soldier
"Museum masterpiece."--Rosebud Book Reviews
"A real find...5 stars."--Once Upon a Romance
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.
"Ernst keeps getting better with each entry in this fascinating series."—Library Journal
"Everybody has secrets in this action-filled cozy."—Publishers Weekly
"All in all, a very enjoyable reading experience."—Mystery Scene
"A page-turner with a clever surprise ending."—G.M. Malliet, Agatha Award-winning author of The St. Just and Max Tudor Mystery Series
"[A] haunting tale of two murders...This is more than a mystery. It is a plush journey into cultural time and place."—Jill Florence Lackey, PhD, author of Milwaukee's Old South Side and American Ethnic Practices in the Twenty-First Century
After her mother's unexpected death, curator Chloe Ellefson discovers hidden antiques that hint at family secrets. Determined to find answers, Chloe accepts a consultant job in Norway, her ancestors' homeland. She's thrilled with the opportunity to explore Hardanger fiddle and dance traditions . . . and her own heritage.
Once their plane lands, however, Chloe and her fiancé, cop Roelke McKenna, encounter only disharmony. Chloe's research reveals strong women and the importance of fiddle music in their lives. But folklore warns against "the devil's instrument" and old evils may yet linger among the fjords and mountains. As Chloe fine-tunes her search for the truth, a killer's desire to stop her builds to a deadly crescendo.
But death strikes as the journey begins, and trouble stalks their fellow travelers. Among the "Little House" devotees are academic critics, greedy collectors, and obsessive fans. Kari is distracted by family problems, and unexpected news from Chloe's boyfriend jeopardizes her own future. As the sisters travel deeper into Wilder territory, Chloe races to discover the truth about a precious artifact—and her own heart—before a killer can strike again.
The more Roelke learns about reenacting, the more he fears that a killer will join the ranks. 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.
"Veteran Ernst provides a new perspective on the Civil War woven together with a compelling mystery." —Kirkus Reviews
"Extremely well-written."—Suspense Magazine
"Kathleen Ernst knows how to spin a tale, weave an intricate plot, and hide clues in the embroidery. A Memory of Muskets takes two stories separated by more than a century and knits them together into one thoroughly satisfying read."—Kathy Lynn Emerson, Agatha Award-winning author of How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries, Murder in the Merchant's Hall, and other historical mysteries
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.
The Heirloom Murders won the 2011 Anne Powers Fiction Prize from the Council for Wisconsin Writers.
"Chloe is an appealing character, and Ernst's depiction of work at a living museum lends authenticity and a sense of place to the involving plot."—St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Greed, passion, skill, and luck all figure in this surprise-filled outing."—Publishers Weekly
"Entertainment and edification."—Mystery Scene"Interesting, well-drawn characters and a complicated plot make this a very satisfying read." —The Mystery Reader
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.
Includes photos of featured artifacts from the real Norwegian-American museum!
"Chloe's fourth...provides a little mystery, a little romance and a little more information about Norwegian folk art and tales."—Kirkus Reviews
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.
"Richly imagined and compelling, Mining for Justice once again highlights Kathleen Ernst's prowess as a storyteller...Ernst is a master of reconstructing the past."—Susanna Calkins, author of the Macavity-winning Lucy Campion Mysteries
Greed, Uncertainty, and Death Get Tangled in the Mystery of a Rare Piece of Belgian Lace
Curator Chloe Ellefson needs distraction from the unsettling family secret she's just learned. It doesn't help that her boyfriend, Roelke McKenna, has been troubled for weeks and won't say why. Chloe hopes a consulting job at Green Bay's Heritage Hill Historical Park, where an old Belgian-American farmhouse is being restored, will be a relaxing escape. Instead she discovers a body in a century-old bake oven.
Chloe's research suggests that a rare and valuable piece of lace made its way to nearby Door County, Wisconsin, with the earliest Belgian settlers. More importantly, someone is desperate to find it. Inspired by a courageous Belgian woman who survived cholera, famine, and the Great Fire, Chloe must untangle clues to reveal secrets old and new...before the killer strikes again.
"A Settler's Year" provides a rare glimpse into the lives of early immigrants to the upper Midwest. Evocative photographs taken at Old World Wisconsin, the country's largest outdoor museum of rural life, lushly illustrate stories woven by historian, novelist, and poet Kathleen Ernst and compelling firsthand accounts left by the settlers themselves.
In this beautiful book, readers will discover the challenges and triumphs found in the seasonal rhythms of rural life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As they turn the pages--traveling from sprawling farm to tidy crossroads village, and from cramped and smoky cabins to gracious, well-furnished homes--they'll experience the back-straining chores, cherished folk traditions, annual celebrations, and indomitable spirit that comprised pioneer life.
At its heart "A Settler's Year" is about people dreaming of, searching for, and creating new homes in a new land. This moving book transports us back to the pioneer era and inspires us to explore the stories found on our own family trees.