The Solace of Stars: A Hanneke Bauer Mystery
Historical Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Level Best Books (July 4, 2023)
Paperback : 252 pages
ISBN-10 : 1685123791
ISBN-13 : 978-1685123796
Kindle ASIN : B0C6TTLW16
Four months after her turbulent arrival, Pomeranian immigrant Hanneke Bauer is still struggling to feel at home on the Wisconsin farm she inherited from her husband. She does savor a growing friendship with tinsmith Karoline Ketzler, but that solace vanishes when Karoline’s daughter Jacobine finds her father dead from a vicious attack.
When the deputy sheriff’s suspicions fall on Karoline, Hanneke employs her own talents to investigate the crime. The search reveals dangerous cultural rifts and astonishing family secrets. Hanneke’s tenacity and intellect help edge her closer to the truth…but will her efforts provoke the killer to strike again?
Pomeranian immigrant Hanneke Bauer arrived in the Watertown area four months ago to find that her husband had died. Without any other options, she moved to the farm she had now inherited trying to make a life for herself. She has made a few friends and she is able to sell some of the knitted items she makes or use them for barter to help her survive. It is rare to see her without her needles clicking and a new project being made.
One of her friends is tinsmith Karoline Ketzler. She has also gotten close to Karoline’s daughter Jacobine. When Jacobine finds her father dead, clearly murdered, she comes to Hanneke for help. Soon the deputy sheriff decides Karoline is responsible for her husband’s death. It doesn’t help that Karoline has gone missing. Hanneke decides she must find the real killer to bring Karoline home and reunite her with her daughter. Trying to question anyone that may know anything soon puts both Jacobine and Hanneke in danger and another person dies. Can Hanneke break through all the secrets and lies or will she become the killer’s next victim?
Again, Kathleen Ernst takes us back in time to a vital and dangerous time in Wisconsin history. Slaves are still traveling through Wisconsin to find freedom and more and more immigrants from Germany and Ireland are coming to the area while the Native Americans are trying to keep their place. Some are willing to help the immigrants like a family Hanneke has become quite close to.
Hanneke Bauer is such a strong and courageous woman. She is on her own in a new world and she is the fighter she has to be. She is growing her own food, has livestock to care for, and she puts her life on the line to help others. Her friends are also strong women, Angela runs the Red Cockerel tavern and Karoline is a tinsmith that works hard to sell her wares to provide for her family. Truthfully the story is filled with strong women. They had to be strong to live back in that time.
But for some men and women, this life was too hard and they had issues, struggles, and vices and the author shows that too. The victim was dealing with a lot but something he was doing right before his death surprised me. It also shined a spotlight on another strong woman doing good things during this time.
The mystery of August Ketzler’s death was very complex. Hanneke put herself in danger in an effort to help Karoline and Jacobine. I was captivated by her efforts and worried for her the whole book. A second death really twisted the story up and I still wasn’t sure whodunit. In fact, I was caught unaware as the ending started to play out and continued to be surprised until the end as were most of the characters in the book. The gathering in the last chapter was so important to the community.
I love the connection Hanneke feels with her husband Fridolin and the solace she finds in the stars. She is starting to find her place more and more at her Safe Haven Farm.
I really enjoy the way Ms. Ernst includes real people and true events in her fictional stories. This time my knowledge perked right up when I recognized a name and knew exactly who she was. All those elementary school field trips must have sunk in. There were real other names from history mentioned but I was not as familiar with those as I probably should be.
The Solace of Stars was a compelling read written by a wonderful storyteller. I am very excited for the next book in this series. A frigid Wisconsin winter perhaps? Whatever this author has in store for Hanneke Bauer, I am all in for the next part of her story.
Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
Kathleen Ernst is a social historian, educator, and bestselling author. Kathleen’s forty-one published books encompass mysteries, historical fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. The Chloe Ellefson Mysteries feature a museum curator whose knowledge of the past helps solve contemporary crimes. Her children’s books include twenty titles for American Girl. Honors for Kathleen’s work include multiple Agatha nominations, an Edgar nomination, a Lovey Award for Best Traditional Mystery, the American Heritage Women in the Arts Recognition Award for Literature from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a Major Achievement Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, the Sterling North Legacy Award for Children’s Literature, and an Emmy Award for Children’s Instructional Programming. Kathleen lives in Middleton, Wisconsin, with her husband Scott (AKA Mr. Ernst) and feline muse Eliza.
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.”