I anxiously await each book in this series.
I am thrilled to have Kathleen stop here as part of her Great Escapes Book Tour!
Keeping It Real
By Kathleen Ernst
I used to work as a curator at a large living history site called Old World Wisconsin. Over fifty historic structures from all over the state have been restored on a sprawling 576-acre site. Many are rare examples of ethnic architecture constructed by some of the early immigrants who settled the state.
After a twelve-year stint at Old World Wisconsin I moved on, but I soon discovered that I missed the site. To me, the obvious answer was to write a book set there. Better yet, why not write a series? I missed the whole historic sites world, actually, and a series would let me visit many special places. Thus the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites Mysteries were born.
Chloe is a curator at Old World Wisconsin. When I began writing the first book, Old World Murder, some of my writer-friends urged me to consider setting the book at a fictional historic site. My writer-friends often have very good advice, so I did consider it. But honestly, not for long. How could I make up a big historic site when I had a real place fixed so firmly in my brain?
One of my goals for the series was to introduce readers to wonderful historic sites and museums. As the series has progressed, Chloe has traveled to an old lighthouse, all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites, an abandoned flour mill (now the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis) and more—all real places, open to the public.
To my delight, many readers who live within traveling distance of the Upper Midwest have visited one or more of the sites featured in the Chloe mysteries. Some have visited all of them. Nothing makes me happier than hearing from readers who have read one of the books and then gone exploring. I’ve added maps, photos, and other resources to my website to enable armchair or actual travel to the locations featured in the books.
The 7th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, A Memory of Muskets, is largely set back at Old World Wisconsin. I had a great time visiting my own memories of my years at the historic site, and I know I wouldn’t have been able to conjure up a fictional setting in such vivid detail.
If you give the series a try, I hope you enjoy visiting the setting locations vicariously within the pages. Or maybe, if you’re ever in the area, you can explore them first-hand.
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.
My first experience at Old World Wisconsin was back in 5th grade for a school field trip and have visited several times since but not lately, at least in person. Through this series I have been able to visit there and some other wonderful places in the Midwest.
Our protagonist, Chloe Ellefson together with Byron Cooke, curator of interpretation, are planning a Civil War program. Thanks to their boss it turns into a Civil War Reenactment. While doing research for the event she discovers some ties to Roelke’s ancestors and the family home she is planning to move into with him. It may explain the disturbing feelings she has about the place. They both get distracted away from their move when a man is found dead at Old World Wisconsin. Dressed as a reenactor, the man has no identification, and this leads the case in several different directions.
Kathleen Ernst always writes a great story with a captivating mystery and the perfect amount of history too. She gives us very detailed descriptions that make the story come alive and easy to visualize. I enjoyed the way she skips back to the past, the 1860’s, and back to present time in this case, is the early 1980’s. As always you can see she has deeply researched the subject matter and I like that I actually learn something while reading every story.
I found Rosina’s story to be very interesting. Her traveling to the New World and making her way to Wisconsin and her life there.
Chloe and Roelke have gotten even closer but they are still building trust as their lives together starts a new chapter.
All the characters are written so well. Chloe’s boss, Petty, not only pushed her buttons but mine. You know the type, my way or the highway, moving deadlines just because he can. and adding things to programs some times just to get her on the defensive. At times you could cut the tension with a knife.
The mystery itself tangled around itself at times and the clues did not always more the investigation forward but took us back to review things that were missed. I was again caught by surprise as we reached the end for that revealing moment when all the clues fell into place.
Ernst is a strong storyteller. At times I could picture all of us gathered around her listening to her tell us Rosina’s story and catching us up with Chloe and all the people in her life. Kind of like the interpreters at Old World Wisconsin. Something she actually used to do. Her love for the place and the history shines bright in every one of her stories.
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
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 1.5 million copies of Kathleen’s 33 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.
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A Memory of Muskets: A Chloe Ellefson Mystery.
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