Saturday was a dreary day outside, but a perfect day to go meet Kathleen Ernst, a Wisconsin author. I'd come across one of her books, available as a free download from Amazon, and really enjoyed it. When I saw two of her books for sale at a historical site, I purchased them. The first two books in her Chloe Ellefson series are set at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle.
One of my college friends spent some time working at Old World as an interpreter in the Norwegian school. Another friend, drove the tram there. And I just really love Old World, which lets you experience history in a tangible, hands-on "you were there" way! So these books really appealed to me!
Kathleen's Chloe Ellefson is a collections curator who takes a job at Old World back in 1982. The books tie in museum work, history, artifacts and folk art, Wisconsin historical ethnic groups, and throw in a murder mystery for good measure. In the course of trying to solve the first murder, Chloe meets police officer, Roelke McKenna, who becomes her friend.
Kathleen was promoting her 5th book in the series, "Tradition of Deceit." I really wanted to attend because she had gifted me with a copy! My husband, a local police chief, called me a while back to say that his lieutenant was working with a local auther, giving her historical background on police work in Milwaukee in the 1980s, a time period when he worked as a Milwaukee motorcycle cop. When I learned who it was, I, of course, told my husband that I loved her books. Then a few weeks ago, he brought home a package. His lieutenant had contacted Kathleen and told her of my interest, so she sent a personalized, autographed copy of the new book for me! (I have all the others in the series.) I wanted to thank her in person, and my husband graciously accompanied me.
It was nice to meet the author and hear her talk about her work, how she approaches writing, the research she does, how she authenticates her characters and dialogue through working with the folks in the trenches, such as police officers from the city she is covering in the new book.
I recommend Kathleen Ernst's Chloe Ellefson series to anyone who loves mysteries, history, ethnic traditions and artwork, and anything Wisconsin! Kathleen also has written extensively for the American Girl doll and book series, most recently about Caroline Abbott, a girl living on the shore of Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. She has written mysteries about some of the other doll characters, and also has a number of historical young adult books available. Her books are available at our library and through the county library system.