Midnight Ink Books

the heirloom murders, chloe ellefson

"Entertaining... Greed, passion, skill, and luck all figure in this surprise-filled outing."
Publishers Weekly

Ranked in the Top 1% of US Sales
out of 8 Million Printed Books
for a Running Total of 97 Days
Nielsen BookScan

"Complex characterization...a strong mystery...and interesting historical tidbits."
Kirkus Reviews


This is the second novel in Kathleen's award-winning Chloe Ellefon Historic Sites mystery series. The story is set at the Old World Wisconsin outdoor museum, the nearby Village of Eagle, and also in Green County, Wisconsin during July 1982 with flashbacks to 1876.

The Chloe series is written for adults and mature teens who enjoy traditional mysteries (i.e., without explicit sex, violence, or gore).

Story Description

As collections curator for Old World Wisconsin, Chloe Ellefson delights in losing herself in antiques and folk traditions—and forgetting her messy love life. But her peace is destroyed when an ex-boyfriend turns up, followed by a break-in at her friend Dellyn’s historic house—a potential treasure trove of priceless antiques. Was the intruder hunting for the missing Eagle Diamond, a legendary gemstone unearthed in 1876?

When a murder takes place on the museum grounds, Chloe is further drawn into a mystery involving a rare variety of Swiss cheese, a nearly extinct heirloom flower—and plain, old-fashioned greed.

This story is available as a 360-page trade paperback, and as an electronic book that can be read on a variety of devices, including the iPad, Nook, Kobo, and Kindle.

What Others Are Saying


Image of Council for Wisconsin Writers Award logo.  Ann Powers Fiction Book Award
Council for Wisconsin Writers
Judge's Comments

"This book is a rich mystery with interesting, captivating characters. The story skillfully weaves Wisconsin history, folk traditions, ethnic cultures, and botany into the plot with aspects of both romance and mystery. It is a delight to read and teaches a lesson in sustainable agriculture without being didactic. The sense of place comes through very clearly and is a big part of this novel's appeal. Ernst is a fine writer and I look forward to reading more of her work and of this series."

Publicity photo of Agatha Award-winning author Jeanne M. Dams.  Jeanne M. Dams
Agatha Award-Winning Author
Dorothy Martin and Hilda Johansson Mysteries

The Heirloom Murders has "engaging characters, a fascinating (real-life) setting, a gripping and believable plot—this is the traditional mystery at its best."

Image from Mystery Scene Magazine bullet hole banner. Mystery Scene Magazine
Review by Lynne F. Maxwell

"Kathleen Ernst lives up to her promise in The Heirloom Murders... Much of the novel centers upon the history and attraction of the Eagle Diamond, a precious stone that vanished long ago. Oh, and don't forget the romantic subplot that pits Chloe's ex-fiancé, another collections curator, against her new love interest, a lowly cop. Read The Heirloom Murders for entertainment and edification."

About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst writes award-winning mysteries and historical fiction for adults and young readers. Her work has earned numerous honors, including multiple Edgar and Agatha mystery award nominations, and an Emmy for educational programming.

To date, readers have purchased over one million printed, electronic, and audio copies of Kathleen's twenty-six published books. more>>

Related Blog Posts

Enjoy the author's insights about the story, characters, and settings.

kathleen ernst, chloe ellefson, mystery, old world murder, the heirloom murders, midnight ink, old world wisconsin, history mystery tour, ink spot blog, fiction in real places, Fiction in Real Places

Is it wise to set a murder mystery in a real place? The first book in my Chloe Ellefson series, Old World Murder, is set at a large historic site where I once worked. I used to be a curator at...  more>> 

the heirloom murders, chloe ellefson, Heirloom Tomatoes Heirlooms of Importance

I didn’t set out to write an “issue” novel when I began The Heirloom Murders, second in my Chloe Ellefson series. I did want to include a plotline about the importance of preserving... more >>

the heirloom murders, chloe ellefson, Heirloom Flowers, Old World Wisconsin Going, Going, Gone?

One of the great things about writing novels is having the opportunity to explore interesting topics. Since my Chloe Ellefson mysteries are set at historic sites, I have all kinds of opportunities to... more >>

the heirloom murders, chloe ellefson, Willkommen Volksfest Willkommen to Volksfest

Since Swiss heritage is a theme in my latest Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites Mystery, The Heirloom Murders, my husband Scott and I have spent the past couple of years poking around... more >>

the heirloom murders, chloe ellefson, Vessels of Tradition Vessels of Tradition

A reader recently asked if the elderly couple in The Heirloom Murders was based on real people. I was delighted with the question. She was speaking of Johann and Frieda Frietag... more >>

the heirloom murders, chloe ellefson Romance, Romance

I had lunch this week with two friends who (good pals that they are) told me they loved The Heirloom Murders, my second Chloe Ellefson mystery. They also agreed that they’re ready to see... more >>

the heirloom murders, chloe ellefson Frieda’s Kitchen

If you’ve read the second Chloe Ellefson novel, The Heirloom Murders, you’ve met Frieda Frietag. Frieda is an elderly woman of Swiss descent, living in an old family farmhouse in... more >>

the heirloom murders, chloe ellefson The Old Cheese Factory

I’ve had two wonderful opportunities this fall to see cheese being made as it was back in the day when little cheese huts could be found on many farms in Green County and surrounding...  more >>

Where To Buy

The Heirloom Murders can be ordered through local independent bookstores and from national chains. It is available as a trade paperback and in e-book versions that can be read using Amazon Kindle apps and devices, and on Apple iPads and Macs, the Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo readers, and other ePUB compatible apps and devices.

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Author's Note

One of the fun aspects of planning a new book is considering what themes and ideas to include.

Although The Heirloom Murders weaves several plot strands together (as the description makes clear), I particularly wanted to highlight the important role historic sites play in perpetuating heirloom varieties of vegetables, fruits and flowers. As you’ll discover in the novel, it’s important work. 

I also wanted to create two secondary characters who reflect so many of the wonderful elderly people I met when I began working at Old World Wisconsin in 1982. I’m grateful to everyone who passed their stories and knowledge along. 

Book Goodies

Link to The Heirloom Murders preview PDF PREVIEW
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the heirloom murders, chloe ellefson, New Glarus Hotel LOCATIONS GUIDE
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key scenes take place.
the heirloom murders, chloe ellefson, Swiss Pear Bread Recipe FRIEDA'S SWISS

Hearty, moist, delicious.

The Eagle Diamond

Discovered in Eagle, WI in 1876, this 16.25 carat North American glacial diamond changed hands many times before financier J.P. Morgan gave it to the American Museum of Natural History. It was one of a number of precious gems stolen from the museum in 1964 by a thief called "Murph the Surf." He was promptly arrested and the jewels recovered, except for the Eagle Diamond. This still unsolved mystery has been woven into The Heirloom Murders. To get a close-up look at the diamond, click on the photo.

The 16.25 Carat Eagle Diamond - Discovered 1876 - Eagle, Wisconsin

Click to Listen

Lake Effect Radio Show, Milwaukee, WI Mitch Teich of Milwaukee Public Radio talks with Kathleen Ernst about The Heirloom Murders.
March 23, 2012
Larry Meiller Show Larry Meiller of Wisconsin Public Radio talks with Kathleen Ernst about The Heirloom Murders.
September 27, 2011