The Light Keeper’s Legacy Giveaway Winners!

March 22, 2018

Congratulations to Cherie Graham, Kathy Larabell, and Carol Moore! Each won a signed and personalized copy of The Light Keeper’s Legacy, the third Chloe Ellefson mystery, in this month’s Giveaway.


Stay tuned! The monthly retrospective look at the series will continue.  The featured book for April will be Heritage of Darkness.

The Light Keeper’s Legacy Giveaway

March 20, 2018

This year from January through August I’m holding monthly giveaways of my Chloe Ellefson mysteries. The featured book for March is the third in the series, The Light Keeper’s Legacy. (Winner of a Lovey Award for Best Traditional Mystery!)

To enter the giveaway for The Light Keeper’s Legacy, just leave a comment below before 11:59 PM (Central US time) on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

Only one entry per person, please.

Three winners will be chosen at random from entries here and on my Facebook Author Page, and announced Thursday. Each will receive a signed, personalized copy of the book.  Good luck everyone!

Researching The Light Keeper’s Legacy

March 13, 2018


Color photo by Kay Klubertanz of author Kathleen Ernst and "Mr. Ernst" serving as docents at the 1858 Pottawatomie Lighthouse on Rock Island, Wisconsin.


Photo of the front cover of The Light Keeper's Legacy, the 3rd Chloe Ellefson mystery by Kathleen Ernst, Published by Midnight Ink Books.

This article explores examples of how technical research and photographic documentation were used to help Kathleen write the award-winning third book in her Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery series.

The Light Keeper’s Legacy (TLL) takes place in two time periods:  A modern one in September 1982 featuring Chloe and police officer Roelke McKenna; and an historical thread stretching from 1869 to 1906.

Kathleen first included an historical timeline in the previous book, The Heirloom Murders. Based on reader feedback, she crafted a more extensive one for TLL. It tightly braids together the two storylines, their characters, histories, and mysteries.

This set the standard for most of Kathleen’s follow-on Chloe books.


Black & white historic photo of a log cabin on Rock Island, Wisconsin.


Kathleen does the vast majority of research for each mystery, and TLL is no exception. She spends a lot of time doing this, and is very good at it. But only a small part of what’s uncovered ends up influencing or appearing in her books. Those choices are one of the reasons Kathleen’s stories have a descriptive richness, enabling readers to immerse themselves in her books.

Chapter 42

Most of The Light Keeper’s Legacy is set on Washington and Rock Islands, just off the tip of Door County, Wisconsin, in Lake Michigan. There are no bridges to either island; access is by public ferry boats and private watercraft — and in the case of Washington, by small aircraft. This remoteness plays a key role in the book.

Chapter 42 includes a number of exciting scenes. Below are brief excerpts from two, followed by examples of the research Kathleen used to craft them.

As the chapter begins, Roelke is trying to land a small plane on a grass runway at the airfield on Washington Island.


Google satellite map of Washington Island, WI.

Imagery Copyright 2018 Google, NOAA, Terrametrics.


Since I hold a private pilot’s license, Kathleen asked me to pull together the technical details she’d need. The following is from the book.


[Roelke] made two left turns, which brought him in line with the runway.  Airspeed and descent looked good. “Washington Island traffic, Seven-Seven-Echo on final for Two Two.”  There were trees near the approach end of the grass strip, so he set the flaps full down.

He was clearing the woods when the deer bounded from cover. Three of them, all does, running straight toward Two Two.

Dammit. Roelke pulled back on the yoke and shoved the throttle forward, trying to get the Cessna to climb. Instead of ramping up the engine hesitated.

What the hell was wrong? A few eternal seconds later, the engine recovered with a roar, but airspeed was still dropping. The stall warning began to wail.

I’m screwed, Roelke thought. He was seconds away from a crash.


Below is the cover page of the six-page research paper I prepared.


Scan of the first page of the research report about Roelke's Flight to Washington Island, created for The Light Keeper's Legacy Chloe Ellefson mystery by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst.

Copyright 2011 Kathleen Ernst, LLC


Feel free to review the research; you can download a PDF copy by clicking HERE.

The second scene from Chapter 42 involves two unknown assailants who trap Chloe alone in the lighthouse, pursuing her to the very top of the four story building.


Google Satellite map of Rock Island, WI.

Copyright 2018 Google, NOAA, Terrametrics.


As Kathleen scoped out the setting and considered what Chloe would do in this situation, I took photos to serve as reference material for use when she wrote the scene later.

Note from Kathleen:  This was one of those afternoons where I had to be careful to keep my voice down. No need for visitors to hear Mr. Ernst and I discussing the logistics of mayhem.


Chloe didn’t waste time on a glance through the hatch. She’d slowed Balaclava Man down. Maybe even disabled him. Guy Two could be after her any moment though. The instinct to run-run-run buzzed through her brain.

She couldn’t go down. She couldn’t go up. Only option: going out.

Chloe dropped to her knees beside a low wooden door, wrenched it open, and scrambled onto the narrow walkway outside the lantern room. “Oh God,” she whimpered, clutching the paint-sticky railing, fighting a wave of vertigo. The trees and picnic table and outhouse below looked dollhouse-sized.

The roof’s peak stretched south from the lantern room. The roof itself fell steeply on either side. Chloe’s stomach twisted again as she imagined trying to creep down to the gutters without falling.

Wait. A heavy cord of braided copper ran from the lightning rod on top of the tower down the west side of the roof before disappearing over the edge of the gutters.

Chloe bit her lip hard. Would the cable support her weight? And even if she did make the gutters without somersaulting into thin air, what then?


Below are some of the photos, with descriptions linking them to the passage above.


Pair of color photos of the stairs leading up to the floor hatch in the lightroom at the top of the Pottawatomie Lighthouse on Rock Island, Wisconsin.

Left: Chloe’s view as she races up the stairs into the lantern room. Right: Her view from the lantern room looking down through the hatch to where her pursuers will emerge.


Photo taken in lantern room of the Pottawatomie Lighthouse on Rock Island, WI.

Chloe’s view of the low wooden door to the narrow walkway outside the lantern room. Visible to the right is part of the Frenel lens that surrounds, magnifies, and directs the lamp light at night.


Photo taken from the Pottawatomie Lighthouse lantern room looking south.

This reveals the steep fall of the lighthouse roof, and why Chloe’s view of the picnic table and outhouse made them look dollhouse-sized. On the right side of the photo is the heavy cord of braided copper that runs down from the lightning rod to the roof and over the gutters.


Photo of the west side of the Pottawatomie Lighthouse showing the braided copper wire.

Here’s a ground-level view from the west of the braided copper cord running from the lightning rod (just visible atop the lantern room) down across the roof and over the gutters to the ground.


Now that you’ve had a chance to compare excerpts with some of the research used to write them, we’d love to hear what you think. Please leave us a comment below.

But Wait, There’s More

Hopefully this article has piqued your interest in discovering more about the ‘people, places and the past’ in the The Light Keeper’s Legacy.

There’s a whole page full of information about it on Kathleen’s website, including a discussion guide for the book, a custom Google map and a locations guide about where key scenes are set, a recipe mentioned in the book, a slide show of objects featured in the story, public radio interviews with Kathleen about the book, additional blog posts, links to booksellers that carry TLL — and more. To explore them, click HERE.

Next month I’ll post an article on this blog about interesting things that turned up whle researching Heritage Of Darkness, the fourth book in the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery series.

The Light Keeper’s Legacy – A Retrospective

March 6, 2018

When publisher Midnight Ink picked up the first book in the Chloe Ellefson Mystery series, Old World Murder, I was given a two-book contract. After turning in the second book I wrote a proposal for two more, starting with a book set at Pottawatomie Lighthouse in Rock Island State Park, Wisconsin.

(Rock Island is off the tip of Door County in Lake Michigan, and it takes two ferries and a mile walk to reach the lighthouse.  Mr. Ernst and I had the pleasure of serving as live-in docents for eight years. For nine days at a time we gave tours during the day and got to live in the lighthouse.)

Mr. Ernst in the light room with the Fresnel lens.

A few months after turning in the proposal, Mr. Ernst and I left the mainland on the first ferry, heading for the lighthouse. Cell service was not available on Rock Island at that time, so I checked my phone one last time before turning it off for the duration. Up popped a note from my agent, telling me that my proposal had been accepted. That was a great way to start the week!

Pottawatomie Lighthouse

I was excited about several aspects of the proposed book. In real life, Pottawatomie Lighthouse had been restored by a group of determined citizens who formed a support group called The Friends of Rock Island. They did a phenomenal job with a huge project, and I was delighted to fictionalize that story in the mystery.

Also, I was eager to share a bit of the island’s rich history. It’s easy to imagine lighthouse families at work when a gorgeous structure like Pottawatomie remains. But nothing tangible remains of a fishing village on the island that once was home to perhaps 300 people. Writing the mystery gave me the opportunity to breathe life into that part of the island’s story.

This peaceful meadow on Rock Island was once the site of a bustling fishing village.

The rugged setting also was ideal for a murder mystery. The only drawback was spending that week on the island cataloging, for plot purposes, every imaginable way someone could get into trouble on roadless Rock Island.

We had guests visit that year, and they didn’t return from a hike when expected. After waiting an hour, Mr. Ernst set out to search for them. That left me alone at the lighthouse, knowing the day’s last ferry had departed and the ranger with it. I admit, my imagination got the better of me, and I wished I hadn’t spent quite so much time envisioning catastrophe. (Everyone did eventually return, safe and sound.)

I wrote some of the book while staying at the lighthouse—longhand, since there’s no electricity.


A year later, we spent some of our time at the lighthouse proofreading the edited manuscript.

SPOILER ALERT – plot points are discussed below!

As always, I started conceptualizing the book by thinking about Chloe and Roelke’s emotional growth in the last mystery, and where I wanted them to go in this one. Chloe is feeling strong again after her bad experience in Switzerland and her struggle with clinical depression. It was satisfying to give her the opportunity to head out on her own, quite comfortable with the prospect of spending a week alone on a wilderness island.

Beach below the lighthouse.

Roelke knows he wants a relationship with Chloe, but he’s still figuring out what that means.  He expresses doubt about her trip in the opening scene. When he finally hears about trouble on the island, he makes a decision to rent a plane and fly north. He knows Chloe might resent his appearance—especially if all is well. He does it anyway. I wanted to show that Roelke is a guy who’s willing to take risks to protect people he cares about, a theme revisited in later books.

The plotline about the young idealistic environmentalists who want to simplify a complex situation is fictional, but does reflect some personal experience. In college I majored in environmental education, and remember learning for myself that most often any issue is more complicated than it may appear. I tried to share a bit of that when discussing commercial fishing in the Great Lakes. Creating the character of Stig provided an opportunity to show the difficulty faced by someone who understands both sides of the dilemma.

When doing research I wasn’t able to identify any primary source material, or artifacts, directly tied to the fishing community on Rock Island. Ragna Anderson, in the historical timeline, is completely fictional.

Emily Betts, on the other hand, was a real woman who lived with her family at the lighthouse, and served as Assistant Keeper—until she lost her job, as described in the book. Obviously I fictionalized her experience, and her interaction with Ragna, but I hope I conveyed the essence of a woman who was, by all accounts, enormously capable and widely admired.

Emily Betts and two of her children in 1883. (National Archives & Records Administration)

Although Emily was officially on the payroll as Assistant Keeper, all of the lighthouse ledger entries appear to have been made by her husband, Keeper. The roster below notes that her position was abolished.

One interesting aside: I spent a week in Door County while working on this book, and learned that the marvelous Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay was hosting a temporary exhibit about the haunted history of county lighthouses. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go, but I’m glad I did. The exhibit did a great job of sharing stories and postulating possible explanations for some of the experiences that have been reported. Although many say Pottawatomie is haunted, Mr. Ernst and I have never run across anything spooky in our time there.  I was delighted that the story presented about Rock Island’s lighthouse had to do with the sound of laughing children—which I incorporated into the story.

Temporary exhibit at Door County Maritime Museum

So, what did you think? Was Roelke’s  protective instinct warranted, or all wrong for an independent woman like Chloe? Are you a lighthouse fan, and if so, why do you think so many people find them appealing? Would you be willing to spend a week alone in an island lighthouse?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You can explore relevant people, places, and the past on my webpage for The Lightkeeper’s Legacy. Resources include a Google map, a Locations Guide, full Discussion Guide, a recipe for Danish Apple Cake, and links to lots of additional background material. Happy reading!

That’s me, standing on “Emily’s rock” below the lighthouse.

The Heirloom Murders Giveaway Winners!

March 1, 2018

The lucky winners of my second monthly Chloe Ellefson Mysteries Giveaway are Agnes “FRUSA,” Elaine Klingbell, and John Nondorf.   Congratulations!

Each will receive a signed and personalized trade paperback of The Heirloom Murders, the second book in the series. Winners have been contacted by email.

Stay tuned for a giveaway of the third book, The Lightkeeper’s Legacy, in late March!

The Heirloom Murders Giveaway

February 27, 2018

This year from January through August I’m holding monthly giveaways of my Chloe Ellefson mysteries. February’s featured book is the second in the series, The Heirloom Murders.

To enter this month’s The Heirloom Murders giveaway, just leave a comment below before 11:59 PM (Central US time) on Wednesday, February 28, 2018.

Only one entry per person, please.

Three winners will be chosen at random from entries here and on my Facebook Author Page, and announced Thursday. Good luck everyone!

Researching The Heirloom Murders

February 20, 2018


Color postcard of Sasso's Bar in the Village of Eagle, Wisconsin, circa 1982.


Front cover of the Chloe Ellefson Mystery #2, The Heirloom Murders, by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst, published by Midnight Ink Books.

Mr. Ernst here. This month the focus is on things interesting and indicative that turned up while researching The Heirloom Murders, the second book in the Chloe Ellefson mystery series.

Some of the following made it into the book. Other things influenced the story. And some things below are included merely to reflect the times.

Kathleen and I hope you find them interesting too.

THM takes place at Old World Wisconsin (an actual outdoor history museum in the Southeast corner of the state), the nearby Village of Eagle, and the Village of New Glarus in Green County, WI.

A Modern Mystery with Historical Roots

THM is the first book in the Chloe series to feature an historical thread, which in this case centers on the actual 1876 discovery in Eagle of an extremely rare glacial diamond. Kathleen also chose to weave the modern mystery of this gemstone into the story’s 1982 timeline.

The Eagle Diamond changed hands many times over the decades between being unearthed and its donation to the American Museum of Natural History. It was one of a number of precious gems (including the legendary “Star of India”) stolen from there by a 3-man crew led by a jewel thief playboy named Jack “Murph the Surf” Murphy.

Black and white photo of Jack Murphy and his girlfriend Bonnie Lou Sutera taken in 1964.

Jack Murphy and his then girlfriend Bonnie Lou Sutera, 1964.

Murph made the fateful mistake of bragging about the heist and was quickly arrested. He served 21 months; Bonnie Lou committed suicide. All the jewels were recovered — except for the Eagle Diamond.

The history and mystery of this rare gemstone is fascinating. Read Wood V. Boynton and the Incredible Journey of the Eagle Diamond by Mara Kent (Wisconsin Magazine of History, Volume 97, number 2, Winter 2013-2014).

Anatomy of a Scene

Kathleen often builds individual scenes around historical events uncovered while doing research. One was inspired by this article.

newspaper clipping about film schedule for 1982 Summer Movie program in the Village of Eagle, Wisconsin, 1982.

Palmyra Enterprise newspaper, June 10, 1982.

This series of free public movies was proposed by the Chief of the Village of Eagle Police Department (EPD) as a way to deter crime. His thinking was that if local teens were at a police-sponsored, police-chaperoned film, they couldn’t get into too much trouble.

Wielding some artistic license, Kathleen put EPD Officer Roelke McKenna in charge of organizing and running the July 10th showing of MacKenna’s Gold, which she has his co-worker, Officer Skeet Deardorff, select (sight unseen) as a humorous play on Roelke’s name.

Color movie poster for MacKenna's Gold.

Copyright 1969 Columbia Pictures. This Western had an all-star cast, including Gregory Peck, Egyptian actor Omar Sharif as a Mexican bandit, and Julie Newmar playing an Apache Indian who goes swimming in the nude. The film was a financial failure, costing $7M ($47M in 2018 dollars) while earning just $3.1M ($21M now), despite becoming a long-running hit in the Soviet Union.

Next Kathleen introduced a series of challenges resulting in Roelke being the sole officer present that evening, and added an angry teen couple whose loud argument disturbs the movie and forces Roelke to intervene.

Note from Kathleen:  I wanted readers to learn more about Roelke’s approach to policing. When Mr. Ernst turned up the notice about Movie Night, I knew I could make that work. Roelke is a good cop. Sure, he wants to catch bad guys, but he also wants to be proactive about keeping kids out of trouble. And dealing with TJ and his pregnant girlfriend shows Roelke’s ability to de-escalate a problem, not simply chase after lawbreakers.

Say What?

Kathleen uses the popular-in-Wisconsin term “soda” in the scene above. For those who are not familiar with it, there’s the wonderful Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE).  The article below describes the then 17-year old University of Wisconsin project to gather and publish it, including explanations of three popular Wisconsin-isms.

Regional dictionary is place for 'bubbler' headline.

July 29, 1982 – Waukesha Freeman newspaper.

“When you’re frying out and forget your soda, you can always look for a bubbler… Fry out is an expression meaning grill out or barbecue. It’s unique to to Calumet, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, and Fond du Lac Counties. …The heavily Germanic population took it from the practice of frying sausage. Soda describes soft drinks in the area of Wisconsin along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Elsewhere, pop or soda pop is preferred.

Bubblers are drinking fountains. …Researchers traced the word back to a 1914 publication of the Kohler Co. in Sheboygan, which mentioned a “bubbling valve” on a fountain. In 1915, company literature began talking about a “continuous flow bubbler” and the word was coined… While fountains no longer bubble continuously, the word is still used.”

Color photo of a 'bubbler' - a Wisconsin term for water fountain.

By Sulfur (Own work) GFDL (

Indicative of the Times

Kathleen chose not to make reference to any of the following in THM, but each tells us something about the summer of 1982, and enables a perspective on events of today.

Three States Short of Approval, ERA Dies article newspaper clipping.

June 22, 1982 – United Press International.

One wonders how things might be different today had the ERA been adopted back then.

Speaking of which…

Businesswomen 'too sexy' in pants headline.

June 25, 1982 – Waukesha Freeman newspaper.

“A survey of corporate employees shows businesswomen who wear pants to work have plenty of sex appeal but not much professional standing. In the survey of 480 firms selected from the Standard & Poor’s register 99.8 percent of the men who responded felt pants on the job were inappropriate for an executive woman.

Men and women …thought women who wore dresses to work were more confident and did not feel the need to “dress like a man to convince other people of their abilities.” That refutes the traditional advice that career women wear suits on the job.”

And then there’s this ‘man bites dog’ piece below written by Joan Beck. The article uses a Wisconsin sexual harassment case to make a series of pointed observations about the very real challenges, and double standards, that women workers were experiencing back then. The snarky headline was probably written by a man.

State sexual harassment case is something to snicker about headline.

July 27, 1982 – Chicago Tribune newspaper

“Sexual harassment on the job isn’t for snickering. It’s heavy stuff, abhorred by women, forbidden by company policies, outlawed by federal regulations, punishable by the courts, a sin in the eyes of management training manuals and feminist manifestoes alike.

So it won’t do to admit a sneaky little snicker of satisfaction about the sexual harassment story from Madison, Wis. This time, the victim was male. And the supervisor who demoted the employee for resisting sexual overtures is female.

So let’s just say it’s OK to be encouraged that at least one complaint of sexual victimization has been taken seriously enough to move a jury to give the victim $196,500 in punitive and compensatory damages.”

That’s $504,724 in 2018 dollars.

But Wait, There’s More

Hopefully this article has piqued your interest in discovering more about the ‘people, places and the past’ in the The Heirloom Murders.

There’s a whole page full of information about it on Kathleen’s website, including a discussion guide for the book, a custom Google map and a locations guide about where key scenes are set, a recipe mentioned in the book, a slide show of objects featured in the story, public radio interviews with Kathleen, additional blog posts, links to booksellers that carry THM — and more. To explore them, click HERE.

Next month I’ll post an article about researching The Light Keeper’s Legacy, the third book in the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery series.

The Heirloom Murders – A Retrospective

February 13, 2018

Welcome back to the behind-the-scenes look at the Chloe Ellefson mysteries! Up today: The Heirloom Murders, second in the series.

I knew where I wanted to go after wrapping up the first book, Old World Murder—Green County, Wisconsin, famous for its Swiss heritage. My father’s parents were born and raised in Switzerland, so that was a natural draw.


Fondue dinners in New Glarus became “research trips.”

Me and Mr. Ernst, New Glarus Hotel.

Spotlighting Swiss heritage, and places like the Swiss Historical Village & Museum and the National Historic Cheesemaking Center, satisfied my wish to celebrate Wisconsin’s cultural heritage and museums.

It was great fun to learn more about sap sago and other aspects of Swiss cheesemaking. And the timing was good—staff and volunteers at the Cheesemaking Center in Monroe were restoring the Imobersteg Farmstead Cheese Factory on their grounds while I was writing the book.

I knew nothing about heirloom plants, and how much diversity we’ve lost, until I went to work at Old World Wisconsin in 1982. I was fascinated by the topic, and the role historic sites around the world play in preserving genetic diversity. As I considered what aspect of museum work to showcase, heirloom plants and rare-breed livestock seemed like a good fit.

Antique apples like these may not look perfect, but they have more taste than some types bred to look good over long transports.

I’d known about the legendary Eagle Diamond, and thought it would be fun to fictionalize the story of its discovery and eventual theft. This book was the first in the Chloe series to include a thread of historical fiction, braided with the more contemporary plot strands. Reader feedback was positive, and I’ve used this approach in most of the later books.

Eagle Diamond

Five views of the Eagle Diamond. (Wikipedia)

Many authors say that the second book in the series is the hardest to write. (The first was written on speculation, without a contract; suddenly, there’s a deadline imposed on #2.)  The Heirloom Murders wasn’t harder to write, but it was challenging to market. The overall plot involved a woman’s death, a stolen diamond, Swiss green cheese, and heirloom gardening. Try summing that up in a concise but appealing way! And that’s without mentioning the main characters’ personal lives.

My original title for this book was “Deadly as Diamonds.” My editor changed it because another author with the same press had a book coming out with “diamond” in the title. When I saw him a few months later at a conference I gave him a hard time for “stealing” my key title word. Turns out his original title hadn’t included the word “diamond” at all, but it was changed for a similar reason!

SPOILER ALERT – plot points are discussed below!

The first thing I do when planning a book is think about the main characters’ emotional growth. Just when Chloe was finally moving on after what happened in Switzerland, Markus shows up. Chloe and Markus have a great deal in common.  Chloe and Roelke, not so much. That provided some good conflict.

A number of readers let me know that they particularly enjoyed meeting Johann and Frieda Frietag, even though they had a small role. That was a good reminder that minor characters need just as much care and complexity as the main ones!

I imagined Frieda bustling about this kitchen when Chloe and Markus visit. Swiss Historical Village & Museum, New Glarus.

The main mystery plot about Bonnie Sabatola’s death came from a late-night talk I had with an Eagle police officer. I was doing a second-shift ridealong and when we got back to the station, the conversation somehow turned to cases that had packed an emotional wallop. While working for another police department, he’d encountered a situation similar to what I described—a murder made to look like suicide.

The questions surrounding the case gave Roelke a lot to work with, and showed his tenacity. I’d already heard from readers who wanted to see more of him.  I hope his fans enjoyed his role in bringing the killer to justice. However, this book also revealed his trouble with anger management. Roelke threatens Markus with physical harm, and kicks Simon Sabatola. As an author, that may have been a risky choice, but I wanted Roelke to be a complex character, struggling with real issues.

So, what did you think? If read books one and two in order, did you want Chloe to end up with Markus, or Roelke? Did you understand Roelke’s anger, or was that indefensible? Was justice served? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You can explore relevant people, places, and the past on my webpage for The Heirloom Murders. Resources include a Google map, a Locations Guide, full Discussion Guide, a recipe for Swiss Pear Bread, and links to lots of additional background material. Happy reading!

National Historic Cheesemaking Center. Photo by Mr. Ernst.

Chloe 9 Reveal!

February 6, 2018

Last week I zipped the manuscript for the 9th Chloe Ellefson mystery off to my publisher. This week, it’s available for pre-order! I’m excited to provide a peek at the next adventure for Chloe and Roelke.

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.

The Lacemaker’s Secret will be published in October, 2018.  You can pre-order now:

IndieBound – Trade Paperback

Amazon – Trade Paperback

Amazon – Kindle

Books-A-Million (BAM) – Trade Paperback

The story of Wisconsin’s Belgian immigrants is compelling, and I hope The Lacemaker’s Secret honors those early settlers—and the many people who have worked hard to preserve and interpret their history at Heritage Hill, and the Belgian Heritage Center in Namur.

Old World Murder Giveaway Winners!

February 1, 2018

The lucky winners of my first monthly Chloe Ellefson Mysteries Giveaway are Sharon Butera, Sandra Redford Griswold, and Maryjean Samer. Congratulations!

Each will receive a signed and personalized trade paperback of Old World Murder, the first book in the series. Winners have been contacted by email.

Stay tuned for a giveaway of the second book, The Heirloom Murders,  in late February!