Monday, October 10, 2016

A Memory of Muskets by Kathleen Ernst - #review

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. 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 at Chloe’s special event. 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.



The first "Chloe Ellefson Mystery" I read was Death on the Prairie, in 2015.  In a word, I was enthralled.  And everything I loved about that story, I again found in the newest "Chloe" book, A Memory of Muskets.

From the information available in the 'Author's Note' (it's in those roman numeral pages before the story even starts!), you can tell Ms. Ernst has done her research.  She also provides links to numerous websites, should her readers wish to pursue a particular interest.  Now I know next to nothing about Wisconsin...except for that it's cold in winter and there are way too many folks wearing hats that look like wedges of Swiss cheese (usually during football season).  But after reading these two books, I kind of want to know more about this "W" state!  (And yes, I love history.)

The whole Civil War Era holds a holds great interest for history buffs.  There are several battle sites within an hour or so's drive from my house, and at least a couple of battle re-enactments each year.  And, although I was not born here in Kentucky, it is now definitely my home.  Some of my older neighbors, especially in rural areas still refer to the conflict as the "War of Northern Aggression".   OK.  I'm getting back to the review now. :O)

I must confess, I nearly spewed my sweet tea when I saw that Chloe's boss's name was Petty.  How fitting.  He is a man who is an example of the saying, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,"  He thinks a little education and maybe some connections makes him all that and a bag of chips.  Usually when someone draws ire from, oh, just about everybody who knows him, he winds up being the victim of a very mortal crime.  But in a nifty twist, unfortunately, he is not.

Ernst has a rare talent for combining a genuinely compelling mystery with a wonderful history lesson.  In this book, I especially appreciated the nods to the German and Scandinavian heritage of the local populations.  My  mother was a 1st-generation immigrant from Switzerland.  I also appreciated the character lists for the current day and historical time-period, as well as a map of the book's setting.  I'm a visual reader (I see images described in the text like a movie or slide show) and these things helped to arrange the story quickly in my head.

Looks like another spot on my "Favorite Author List" is now filled!



Kathleen Ernst is a former museum curator who remains passionate about history!  In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. Over 1.5 million copies of Kathleen’s 33 titles have been sold. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards.


  1. This is a great series! I can't wait to read the new one!

  2. Thanks so much for the shout-out! I'm one of those lucky people who get to do something that they truly love.