I am so excited Kathleen has returned here today. I love the Chloe Ellefson Mystery Series. It is set in Wisconsin and in the The Light Keeper’s Legacy we travel away from Old World Wisconsin to Washington Island and Rock Island State Park in Door County. It is a beautiful vacation spot and I loved my visit there with Chloe. I will let Kathleen tell you more about it.
The Lure of a Lighthouse
by Kathleen Ernst
I love lighthouses too. I grew up on the east coast, and saw many majestic towers along the Atlantic shore as a child. Since moving to the Upper Midwest thirty years ago, I’ve visited a number of Great Lakes lighthouses.
Five years ago my husband and I applied to be docents at Pottawatomie Lighthouse, which is in Wisconsin’s Rock Island State Park, off the tip of Door County in Lake Michigan. Both of us have experience serving as reenactors and interpreters at historical sites, and to our delight, we were invited to spend a week living in the lighthouse and giving tours to guests. We loved every minute of it.
It didn’t take me long to decide that I needed to get Chloe, protagonist of my Historic Sites mysteries, to Pottawatomie.
In The Light Keeper’s Legacy, Chloe travels to Rock Island as a guest curator, charged with researching and writing a furnishings plan for the lighthouse. She immediately falls under the building’s spell. (Of course, she didn’t plan on finding a body on the beach below…)
Writing The Light Keeper’s Legacy allowed me to delve deeply into the history of Pottawatomie Lighthouse and the women who once lived on the island. And spending time in that world gave rise to my initial question: What is so compelling about lighthouses?
I have several theories. First, many people love being by the water, and the structures are often situated in remote, rugged, scenic spots.
Also, the buildings symbolize maritime history and culture. In addition to keeping the lights burning in often difficult conditions, keepers sometimes rescued stranded travelers or shipwrecked sailors. Perhaps lighthouses encourage us to vicariously experience the challenge of facing the elements on some lonely outpost. How would we have fared?
Finally, I suspect that the lights themselves strike a symbolic chord in the human psyche. The lamps were lifesaving beacons on the darkest of nights. By extension, so were the keepers. Who wouldn’t be attracted by the notion of providing a beam of guidance and hope to some forlorn soul?
As a writer, thinking about this question led me back to Chloe’s week on the island. As her research progresses she learns more about a real woman who once served as assistant keeper at Pottawatomie Lighthouse. Might past events be linked to modern murder? Since the local deputy sheriff investigating the case shows no interest in considering that idea, it’s up to Chloe to shine the needed light on a long chain of dark events—and in so doing, help solve the crime.
So…are you intrigued by lighthouses? If so, why? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I’m grateful to Dollycas for allowing me to be a guest on her blog. And I’m grateful to readers! I love my work, and I’d be nowhere without you.
CONTEST ENDS OCTOBER 25 AT 11:59 P.M. CST
About This Author
The Light Keeper’s Legacy is Kathleen Ernst’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.
The Light Keeper’s Legacy
(A Chloe Ellefson Mystery)
3rd in Series
Midnight Ink (October 8, 2012)
Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.
Paperback: 360 pages
Museum curator Chloe Ellefson leaps at the opportunity to be a consultant for the historical lighthouse restoration project on Rock Island. She needs a little time to herself and the tranquility of the Door County state park seems perfect. She will be able to sort through her personal and professionals problems while she attacks the assignment given to her by RISC, the Rock Island Support Circle.
The idyllic place loses its luster though when a dead woman washes ashore below the lighthouse. Now in addition to researching the time periods and the caretakers of the lighthouse she will try to find the answers to the many questions about the dead woman as well. The women in history that lived on Rock Island were strong and resilient but all had their own set of problems and strife. Could the woman Chloe found have a link to the women of the past? Chloe has a feeling she does. She just needs to follow the clues and uncover the mystery.
I have quickly learned one thing about the mysteries written by Kathleen Ernst. Once you start reading them you just can’t stop. So I have learned to plan accordingly. The afternoon spent reading this story was pure joy.
Kathleen has a way of mixing historic times and places with bold characters to create wonderful mysteries. They are smart, well crafted and captivating. The new characters we meet on Rock Island are full, rich and defined. Ernst takes us from 1982 back to the 1860s seamlessly. We get to know the history of the island and the lighthouse and the changes and effects of the fishing regulations. The people who were there on the island then and how they got there and why some left when others stayed. How the past effects the present and the future. I know these books are thoroughly researched and sometimes the best way to learn history is through fictional stories. That is how it has always been back through time. Storytellers are the historians that teach in ways easy to understand. Kathleen Ernst is a gifted storyteller and educator.
I have said before about Kathleen books and it holds true in The Light Keeper’s Legacy, this is not your ordinary cozy, it is so much more. Everyone will enjoy this story. I recommend it highly. If you haven’t read the first two installments you can start with this one but I guarantee you will want to read them all.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”