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Authors: Kathleen Ernst

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Heritage of Darkness

BOOK: Heritage of Darkness


Chloe El efson returns with a new


mystery rooted in Norwegian heritage


For curator Chloe Ellefson, a family bonding trip to Decorah, Iowa a

for rosemaling classes seems like a great idea—until they start driving.

ge of D

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 final y 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 ne

of motherly criticism. As she investigates, Chloe uncovers dark family secrets that could be deadly for her mom—and even herself.



• A dvance Reader’s Edition

• N ational print review campaign

• A uthor appearance at MIBA/GLIBA Trade Show


• A uthor appearance at American Library Association

Annual Conference

Coming from Midnight Ink - October 2013


Paperback Original • Fiction

ISBN: 978-0-7387-3698-3 • US $14.99 CAN $17.50 • 53⁄16 x 8 • 360 pp READER’S

Publicity contact: Bethany Onsgard • [email protected] ADVANCE


UNCORRECTED PROOF: If any material is to be quoted,


it must be checked against the finished book.


Heritage.indd 1

4/22/13 10:17 AM

praise for the chloe ellefson mystery series:

“Chloe is an appealing character, and Ernst’s depiction of work

at a living museum lends authenticity and a sense of place to the

involving plot.”—
St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Greed, passion, skill, and luck all figure in this surprise-filled outing.”—
Publishers Weekly

“Interesting, well-drawn characters and a complicated plot make

this a very satisfying read.”—
The Mystery Reader

“Entertainment and edification.”—
Mystery Scene

“A wonderfully woven tale that winds in and out of modern and

historical Wisconsin with plenty of mysteries. Enchanting!”—

Sandi Ault, author of the WILD Mystery Series and recipient of

the Mary Higgins Clark Award

“Clever plot twists and credible characters make this a far-from-

humdrum cozy.”—
Publishers Weekly

“Propulsive and superbly written, this first entry in a dynamite

new series from accomplished author Kathleen Ernst seamlessly

melds the 1980s and the 19th century. Character-driven, with

mystery aplenty,
Old World Murder
is a sensational read. Think Sue Grafton meets Earlene Fowler, with a dash of Elizabeth Pe-ters.”—Julia Spencer-Fleming, Anthony and Agatha Award-win-

ning author of
I Shall Not Want
One Was A Soldier

Old World Murder
is strongest in its charming local color and genuine love for Wisconsin’s rolling hills, pastures, and wood-lands … a delightful distraction for an evening or two.”—NY-

“This series debut by an author of children’s mysteries rolls out

nicely for readers who like a cozy with a dab of antique lore. Jeanne M. Dams fans will like the ethnic background.”—
Library Journal

“Information on how to conduct historical research, background

on Norwegian culture, and details about running an outdoor mu-

seum frame the engaging story of a woman devastated by a failed

romantic relationship whose sleuthing helps her heal.”—

“[A] museum masterpiece.”—

“A real find … 5 stars.”—

“Engaging characters, a fascinating (real-life) setting, a gripping and believable plot—this is the traditional mystery at its best.”—

Jeanne M. Dams, Agatha Award-winning author of the Dorothy

Martin and Hilda Johansson Mysteries

also by kathleen ernst


Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign,
Stackpole Books, 1999


Old World Murder

The Heirloom Murders

The Light Keeper’s Legacy

Midnight Ink

woodbury, minnesota

Heritage of Darkness: A Chloe Ellefson Mystery
© 2013 by Kathleen Ernst. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission from Midnight Ink, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

First Edition

First Printing, 2012

Book design and format by Donna Burch

Cover design by Kevin R. Brown

Cover illustration by Charlie Griak

Cover image: Holly designs: Hill

Editing by Connie Hill

Midnight Ink, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data (Pending)

ISBN: 978-0-7387-3698-3

Midnight Ink

Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

2143 Wooddale Drive

Woodbury, MN 55125-2989

Printed in the United States of America


For Andrea Cascardi—

with thanks for twelve momentous years;

and for the Vesterheim/Decorah community—

with thanks for making Scott and me part of the family.

author’s note

In 2010, while doing research for
Old World Murder
(the first Chloe Ellefson mystery), I traveled to Vesterheim Norwegian

American Museum in Northeast Iowa to photograph antique ale

bowls. Since then I’ve returned again and again to study the col-

lection, take folk art classes in painting and fiber arts, and enjoy special events.

Vesterheim is the most comprehensive museum in the United

States dedicated to a single immigrant group, with a collection

that includes more than 24,000 artifacts and over a dozen historic structures. It is also a cultural center dedicated to documenting

and perpetuating folk art and traditions through classes, pro-

grams, and tours. Finally, Vesterheim’s presentation of the Nor-

wegian experience provides visitors like me, who are not of Scan-

dinavian descent, a chance to reflect upon our own ethnic and

family history.

I’ve done my best to present a snapshot of Vesterheim as it

was in Chloe’s time, as well as glimpses of other milestone years

as well. Because this is a work of fiction, I did take small liberties to avoid confusion or support the plot. For example, the museum

lobby looked quite different in 1982, and the collections storage

facility described had not yet been built. Also, since my favorite Vesterheim experiences have been rosemaling classes in July and

the Norwegian Christmas Weekend in December, I melded the

two into one week.

Most of the places mentioned in the Decorah area are real,

including the historic neighborhood near the museum, the Fifth

Street bridge over the Upper Iowa River (although it looked


quite different in 1982), the Oneota Co-op, Mabe’s Pizza, and the

Whippy Dip Ice Cream Parlor. My descriptions of private homes

are loosely based on real places, but I kept directions vague to respect the property owners’ privacy.

You can learn more, and plan your own trip, by visiting these


Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum:


You can find photos, a tour guide, and maps of relevant places

on my website,

You can also find photographs of some of the artifacts men-

tioned in the story on page 341.


cast of characters

Chloe Ellefson—curator of collections, Old World Wisconsin

Roelke McKenna—officer, Village of Eagle Police Department

Marit Kallerud—Chloe’s mother, member of The Sixty-Seven

Club of rosemalers

Frank Ellefson—Chloe’s father

Chief Moyer—head of Decorah Police Department

Investigator Buzzelli—liaison for all agencies involved in the

murder investigation

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