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Thursday, August 29, 2013


Today we're happy to welcome back author Kathleen Ernst. The Light Keeper’s Legacy is Kathleen’s twenty-sixth published book. In addition to the Chloe Ellefson series, she has written many books for American Girl, including seven books about the newest historical character, Caroline Abbott. Several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards. 

Leave a comment for a chance to win any one of Kathleen's Chloe Ellefson mysteries: Old World Murder, The Heirloom Murders, The Light Keeper’s Legacy, or Heritage of Darkness (October 2013). For more information, visit Kathleen at her website or blog-- AP

Of Mothers and Daughters

Threading plotlines over a multi-book arc is one of the pleasures of writing a mystery series. While each of my Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites books can stand alone, readers who follow the series in sequence see relationships grow and change.

Curator Chloe Ellefson’s personal life has its share of tangles. The third book in the series, The Light Keeper’s Legacy, begins with Chloe heading off for a consulting gig and a week of much-craved solitude on a remote island. By the end of a harrowing week, she’s ready to admit that sometimes, solitude ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Vesterheim, Decorah, Iowa
photo copyright D. T. Nelson, Oneota Fotos
The next book, Heritage of Darkness, allows her to make good on her vow to improve family ties. Chloe’s relationship with her mother is polite, but distant. Mom is a renowned practitioner of rosemaling, a decorative form of Norwegian painting. When Chloe spots an ad announcing classes at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa, she impulsively suggests that she and Mom sign up for concurrent advanced and beginning classes.

Even better, Chloe’s cop-beau, Roelke McKenna, decides to tag along. What could go wrong?

A lot, of course. Chloe is mortified when Mom subjects Roelke to a not-so-subtle barrage of anecdotes about love and marriage, Norwegian style.

And when an instructor is attacked and left for dead, Mom is asked to teach the beginners. Roelke can see that Chloe is less than pleased with the announcement that her oh-so-critical mother is now her instructor:

Chloe’s expression suggested that she’d been smacked in the face with a pickled herring. “Remember,” Roelke whispered, “the whole idea of this trip was for you to spend time with…”

Chloe pinned him to the wall with a look that had gone from stunned to mutinous. He stopped talking.

Mom compounds the tension by volunteering Chloe for a folklore project that involves interviewing elderly Norwegian-Americans about Christmas customs and traditions.

Chloe blinked. “You what? Mom, I’m a curator, not a folklorist!”

“For Heaven’s sake, Chloe,” Mom said. “You work for the Historical Society of Wisconsin. You’ve got a master’s degree in museum studies. You’ve been involved in folklore your entire life.”

“But I’m supposed to be painting, remember?” Something in Chloe’s eyes changed. “Or…do you not want the daughter ‘who’s never picked up a brush’ in your class? Is that it?”

Roelke felt something crackle in the air like electricity before a storm. And at that moment, he realized that he was a complete and utter moron. Why had he thought he could help ease tension between Chloe, who he was only beginning to understand, and her mother, who he barely knew? What had possessed him?

On one level, Heritage of Darkness is a traditional mystery about a murdered painter and the dark roots of now-cozy holiday traditions. However, it’s the personal relationships that provide emotional connections for readers. I think many adult women will relate to Chloe’s efforts to forge a stronger bond with her mother.

I might have chosen to end the book with Chloe and Mom reaching a place of perfect harmony…but I didn’t. It would feel unrealistic if Chloe’s relationship challenges were completely resolved. Progress is made, but there’s still room for discovery and growth.

Besides, where would that leave me for the next Chloe Ellefson mystery? I have lots of ideas about Chloe’s changing relationship with her mom. (There’s Chloe’s relationship with Roelke to develop, too.) Stay tuned!

Heritage of Darkness
For curator Chloe Ellefson, a family bonding trip to Decorah, Iowa for rosemaling classes seems like a great idea—until they start driving. Chloe’s cop boyfriend Roelke takes her mom’s talk of proposal ideas good-naturedly, but it causes Chloe’s emotional distress to increase with each passing mile.
After finally reaching the Vesterheim Museum, Chloe’s efforts to remain positive are slammed shut when she and Roelke find Petra Lekstrom’s body in one of the museum’s antique immigrant trunks. Everyone is shaken by the class instructor’s murder, and when her mom volunteers to take over Petra’s class, Chloe is put in the hot seat of motherly criticism. As she investigates, Chloe uncovers dark family secrets that could be deadly for her mom—and even herself. 


Anonymous said...

Sounds really interesting and I would suspect that there's a lot of mothers/daughters out there who do NOT get along at all and never did, never will! Thanks for great reading opportunity!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Loved hearing about any author and books I've never read before. They sound like a lot of fun.

petite said...

This author and the books are extremely interesting and lovely. thanks for this delightful post which introduced me an author who is fascinating.

Rose Anderson said...

Ooh this sounds intriguing. Best luck.

traveler said...

What an enjoyable post. Chloe sounds great and Heritage of Darkness unique and very special.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Thanks for the comments! Relationships with mothers (or mother-in-laws, eh Anastasia?) are complicated, aren't they? I hope you enjoy meeting Chloe and Marit as they explore theirs.


Oh, yeah, Kathleen! "Complicated" is an understatement when it comes to Lucille!

Sharon P said...

I would love to read these books - I love the crafty mystery genre! Thanks for the opportunity to win!

Anonymous said...

So looking forward to the next Chloe book!

Merry Lu said...

Hah! Roelke's theme song should be "What was I thinking?"

Kathleen, I have loved your other Chloe mysteries and I can't wait to read this one. I'm pretty sure i will feel right at home during the mom-daughter conflicts. :-)

Anne Dorsay said...

Looking forward to the new book! The first 2 in the series inspired a trip to Old World Wisconsin. Although we had visited Wisconsin many times (live in Calgary) we had never visited this wonderful historic site. It was worth a special trip!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! You are an awesome writer. Have read all of your books and extremely anxious for more. Living in Wisconsin and having been to all your book sites makes them special reads.

LynMarie said...

I cannot wait to read Heritage of Darkness. I love Chloe and so enjoy the historic settings of the books.

Elizabeth J said...

I am very much looking forward to the next Chloe adventure!

My mom is exceptionally talented and crafty (it seems like she can do it all: basket-weaving, needlepoint, quilting, etc.) When I was younger, I was never interested in doing these things with her, but am slowly coming around. However, even now when I need help with a tricky bit, I just hand it all over to my mom and walk away, after telling her to leave me alone, I can figure it out!

Carol M said...

I've been lucky enough to get along with both my mom and my daughter. However, I would still enjoy reading this book! Thank you for the giveaway!

mittens0831 at aol dot com

Kathleen Ernst said...

I'm delighted that some of you have already met Chloe, Roelke, and Mom. I love knowing that each new book in the series provides an opportunity to draw out more of the complexity in their personal identities, and in their relationships.

Merry Lu, your comment made me smile. Roelke's heart is always in the right place, but he's venturing into uncharted territory here!

Anne, nothing makes me happier than hearing that one of my books inspired a visit to one of the featured historic sites! I have the pleasure of choosing historic sites that I love, and think readers will also.

Elizabeth J, I'm so glad you can still hand things off to your mom! Your path sounds a bit like Chloe's. She didn't take to rosemaling at a younger age (when her mom thought it would be nice), but now is slowly coming to realize how special her mom's talents and passions are.

Angela Adams said...

Best of luck with the series. I love that picture of Iowa...very pretty.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the opportunity! I am headed to the library right now and will start the first book!

Anonymous said...

Have enjoyed the Chloe books and am excited to see a new one,

gwjchris said...

Any chance that your books will become television shows or movies?
Bill Christen

Anonymous said...

I love reading your books. I feel like I recognize the places you talk about and that tends to make the story more real. And the relationship problems Chloe has could be mine.
I can't wait for the next book to come out.

Dee Grimsrud said...

The Vesterheim Museum is one of my favorite Norwegian-American places to visit...especially during the annual Nordic Fest at the end of July. Can't wait to see how you bring the place alive through Chloe!

Kathleen Ernst said...

Bill Christen - Oh my, it would be lovely if one of the books was turned into a movie. After all, we've got the settings nailed. Know any producers? :>)

Those of you who are already familiar with the series, I hope you enjoy Chloe's foray to Vesterheim! It's a special place. (And a place that also would make a great setting for a moveie...)

mike said...

Lucky enough to get an advance copy and started reading last night. I hated going to bed as I would have finished it by now. Excellent Series - start with Old World Murder so that you fully understand and enjoy the characters. Enjoy!

cyn209 said...

this series has been on my WishList!! would love to win to start it!!

thank you for the giveaway!!!

cyn209 at juno dot com

Ann Barker said...

I am so looking forward to the next installment in the life of Chloe. I enjoy learning as I enjoy the reading.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Mike - I'm so glad you're enjoying the new book! And thanks for the kind comments. Although each book can stand alone, I agree - the series will be even more enjoyable if the books are read in order.

To other commenters - thanks so much for stopping by! And big thanks to Anastasia as well, for her kind invitation to visit.

lnlars said...

I sure enjoy Chloe books.

Debbie Walworth said...

I can't wait to read the next book! The rosemaling and Vesterheim will bring back so many happy memories.


Margaret Franson was having trouble posting a comment, so I'm posting for her:

I love your books, Kathleen. I like books that are contemporary but take place at historic sites or have to do with historic questions. Keep them coming.

Margaret Franson

Unknown said...

Excited for the next book!

Kathleen Ernst said...

Again, thanks to Anastasia, and to all those who joined the conversation! Happy reading, everyone!


Always a pleasure to have you as a guest, Kathleen. The winner of a copy of one of your books is Rose Anderson. Rose, please contact me at anastasiapollack@gmail.com so that I can put you in touch with Kathleen.