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A Memory of Muskets

A Memory of Muskets

4.3 4
by Kathleen Ernst

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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 instead. And when a reenactor is found dead at one of the historic site’s German farms, Chloe’s boyfriend, cop Roelke


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 instead. 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. 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.


"Veteran Ernst provides a new perspective on the Civil War woven together with a compelling mystery." —Kirkus Reviews

"Extremely well-written."—Suspense Magazine

"Kathleen Ernst knows how to spin a tale, weave an intricate plot, and hide clues in the embroidery.A Memory of Musketstakes two stories separated by more than a century and knits them together into one thoroughly satisfying read."—Kathy Lynn Emerson, Agatha Award-winning author ofHow to Write Killer Historical Mysteries,Murder in the Merchant's Hall,and other historical mysteries

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Historian and curator Chloe works at Old World Wisconsin, an open-air historical park in Wauseka County, which is staging its first Civil War reenactment. When the corpse of one of the participants is discovered, Chloe, in her seventh adventure (after Death on the Prairie), and boyfriend Roelke McKenna are determined to investigate.
Kirkus Reviews
The strange atmosphere in an old cabin almost ruins a relationship.Chloe Ellefson is a curator of collections at Old World Wisconsin, a historic site; her boyfriend, Roelke McKenna, is a police officer in the nearby village of Eagle. Roelke bought his old family farm as a home to share with Chloe and plans to fix up the original cabin as her special place. But Chloe, who’s very sensitive to atmosphere, is horrified by the feeling she gets when she enters the cabin. At Old World Wisconsin, Chloe is so often in trouble with Ralph Petty, her nasty and ambitious boss, that she worries about keeping her job now that she’s helping Roelke with his mortgage. Meantime, she’s helping Bryon Cooke, the curator of interpretations, with his plans for some special Civil War programming. Bryon’s low-key plans involve a group of re-enactors he thinks will respect the solemnity of the period; Petty has contacted a group that will stage a big battle but are lax in their historical standards. When a body dressed in period clothing with no identification is found on one of the German farms, Roelke’s not sure whether his death is accident or murder. As Chloe looks to the past to explain her bad feeling about the cabin, a sad yet inspiring back story emerges. Although Roelke, initially indifferent to his ancestry, wonders whether he and Chloe are just too different to make a go of it, he becomes more sensitive to her interests as his investigation reveals more about his family’s history. It will take both of them to solve a crime rooted in the past. Veteran Ernst (Death on the Prairie, 2015, etc.) provides a new perspective on the Civil War woven together with a compelling mystery.

Product Details

Gale Group
Publication date:
Chloe Ellefson Mystery Series
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

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Meet the Author

Kathleen Ernst is an award-winning and bestselling author, educator, and social historian. She has published over thirty novels and twononfiction books. Her books for young readers include the Caroline Abbott series for American Girl. Honors for her children's mysteries include Edgar and Agatha Award nominations. Kathleen worked as an Interpreter and Curator of Interpretation and Collections at Old World Wisconsin, and her time at the historic site served as inspiration for the Chloe Ellefson mysteries. The Heirloom Murders won the Anne Powers Fiction Book Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, and The Light Keeper's Legacy won the Lovey Award for Best Traditional Mystery from Love Is Murder. Ernst served as project director/scriptwriter for several instructional television series, one of which earned her an Emmy Award. She lives in Middleton, Wisconsin. For more information, visit her online at KathleenErnst.com.

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A Memory of Muskets 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous 7 months ago
A MEMORY OF MUSKETS is my favorite Chloe Ellefson mystery so far. Chloe, curator of Old World Wisconsin, is in the midst of a murder investigation after a reenacter is found dead on the property. Kathleen Ernst’s descriptions helped me visualize the living museum with its buildings representing different immigrants such as the German Schulz farm. Descriptions of the struggles to travel to America, to farm and homestead, and then to fight in The Civil War helped me imagine what it was like for my own German ancestors. Kathleen Ernst has expertly woven together the story of Chloe and her policeman boyfriend Roelke with a parallel story dating back to German immigrants in the 1860’s. Fanciful Rosina, who will let the peas burns while watching cardinals play in the snow, falls in love on board ship taking her to her intended. After one stolen night with Leopold, she becomes pregnant. She must say goodbye to join hard-working, homesteader Klaus. Leopold goes off to fight. Does Klaus know the child isn’t his? Will Leopold return? Thanks to Kathleen Ernst, master storyteller and creator of the Chloe Ellefson series, for bringing history to life.
WildflowerMom 11 months ago
Old World Wisconsin, a living history museum, is an interesting setting for a story with a Civil War reenactment. When an unidentified body turns up behind a barn there, local police and the curators are baffled, especially as he is dressed in a soldier's uniform. A history mystery with a dual timeline, set mainly in Wisconsin, the story bounces between the 1860's to 1983. The author did a lot of thorough research it seemed, weaving it into the character's lives in the past and present stories. The details of what a Civil War soldier carried, wore, and what their families left behind experienced was interesting; the German heritage of the area was also. I was drawn into Rossina's story, as well as Chloe and Roelke's. I had enjoyed the first books in the series, and liked catching up with them in this one. I would have enjoyed the narrative a lot more without the swearing; it didn't seem to fit Chloe's educated background really either, but detracted. The mystery came together rather quickly at the end with a few loose ends. Readers who like a Civil War era tale, with a modern day mystery, may enjoy this story. (A book was provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)
Dollycas 11 months ago
Dollycas’s Thoughts 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.
KrisAnderson_TAR 12 months ago
Memory of Muskets by Kathleen Ernst is the seventh book in the Chloe Ellefson Mystery series. It is 1983 in Woodbury, Minnesota. Chloe Ellefson is the curator of collections at Old World Wisconsin. She is working with Byron Cooke, curator of interpretation, on a Civil War Reenactment. It will be the first Civil War event for Old World Wisconsin. They want to show what life was like during that era (for soldiers and civilians). Their boss, Ralph Petty has other ideas (he wants a mock battle to draw in the crowds). Byron and Chloe are showing Gunter Diederich, a Civil War reenactor, around the Schulz farm (one of the farms at Old World Wisconsin) when Alyssa, an interpreter, comes running over to them. Alyssa has found a person on the ground behind the barn. They hurry over to find a man dressed in a Civil War uniform dead. Roelke McKenna quickly arrives on the scene (he is also Chloe’s boyfriend). The man has no identification and everything on him is from the Civil War era (real and reproductions). He does have a handkerchief with the initial M embroidered on it. Who is this man? Was his death accidental? Chloe is packing up her belonging and getting ready to move into Roelke’s new farmhouse. It originally belonged to his ancestors. There is a small cabin on the property that Roelke would like to be Chloe’s special space. Unfortunately, Chloe cannot stand the cabin. Chloe can feels something dark in the cabin. She starts looking into Roelke’s ancestry to find out what could have caused the bad vibes. Roelke is working at German Fest (police presence) in Milwaukee. Roelke and another officer are patrolling near a mock battle. At the end of the demonstration, one shot is not in sync with everyone else’s. Then a soldier goes down. Another reenactor has been killed. Who is behind these killings? Are they all related? Will Chloe be able to rid the cabin of the evil presence? Join Chloe and Roelke in Memory of Muskets. Memory of Muskets takes us back in time to tell us the story of Roelke’s ancestors. We get to see how they came to America, how his ancestors were involved in the Civil War, and what happened in the cabin. The story goes back and forth from 1983 to 1860s. I was looking forward to reading Memory of Muskets. I have enjoyed the previous books in the series, but this one was hard for me to get through. The same information is repeated throughout the book. The evil feelings in the cabin, Petty and his attitude (behavior), the handkerchief with the letter “M” on it, Chloe’s feelings about Roelke, how she is not sure about moving in with Roelke, how Chloe needs this job, how Petty dislikes Chloe (that was mentioned at least half a dozen times), etc. (this is just a sample). We are given significant detail about Civil War reenactors, their uniforms, attention to detail, etc. That part is interesting, but it does bog down the story. Sometimes it reads more like a history book than a cozy mystery. The mystery was compelling. It was complicated and not easy to solve (that was the best part). I give Memory of Muskets 3 out of 5 stars. The story was just not easy to read. The writing, research, and mystery are very good. The novel just needs editing to make it easier to read and enjoy. Thank you to Midnight Ink and NetGalley for a copy of this book.