Midnight Ink Books

old world murder, chloe ellefson

"Clever plot twists and credible characters make this a far from humdrum cozy."
Publishers Weekly

Ranked in the Top 1% of US Sales
out of 8 Million Printed Books
for a Running Total of 155 Days
Nielsen BookScan

"The engaging story of a woman devastated by a failed romantic relationship whose sleuthing helps her heal."

This is the first novel in Kathleen's award-winning Chloe Ellefon Historic Sites mystery series. The story is set in May 1982 at the Old World Wisconsin outdoor history museum and in the nearby Village of Eagle.

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

Story Description

Trying to leave painful memories behind her, Chloe Ellefson is making a fresh start. She's the new collections curator at Old World Wisconsin, an outdoor ethnic museum showcasing 1800s settlement life. On her first day, Chloe meets with an elderly woman who begs her to find a priceless eighteenth-century Norwegian ale bowl that had been donated to the museum years ago. But before Chloe can find the heirloom and return it to her, the woman dies in a suspicious car crash.

Digging up the history and whereabouts of the rare artifact quickly turns dangerous. Chloe discovers someone is desperately trying to cover up all traces of the bowl's existence—by any means necessary. Assisting Chloe is officer Roelke McKenna, whose own haunting past compels him to protect her. To catch a covetous killer, Chloe must solve a decades-old puzzle, before she becomes history herself.

This book is available as a 325-page trade paperback, and in electronic versions for the Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Sony, and other e-book readers.

What Others Are Saying

Image of julia spencer-fleming, award-winning author.  Julia Spencer-Fleming
Anthony and Agatha Award-winning Author
Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries

"Character-driven, with mystery aplenty, Old World Murder is a sensational read. Think Sue Grafton meets Earlene Fowler, with a dash of Elizabeth Peters."

Publicity photo of Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author Sandi Ault.  Sandi Ault
Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning Author
The WILD Mysteries

"In curator Chloe Ellefson, Ernst has created a captivating character with humor, grit, and a tangled history of her own that needs unraveling. Enchanting!"

Publicity photo of John Lehman of Rosebud Book Reviews. John Lehman
Rosebud Book Reviews

"A Museum Masterpiece. The setting, characters and Midwest values are as authentic as could be... The final sentence will send you looking for the next book in this series. Guaranteed!"

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, award-winning author, bestselling writer, blogger, chloe ellefson historic sites mystery series, old world murder, book one, midnight ink books, sites and stories blog, about those trailers blog post, posted 12 june 2014 About Those Trailers...

Readers sometimes wonder if I exaggerated the artifact storage conditions when I wrote Old World Murder. Well, here is one of the trailers Chloe discovers when she... more>>


Photo of Four Mile Inn at Old World Wisconsin taken in 1980. Old World Wisconsin in Chloe's Day

I sometimes forget how much Old World Wisconsin has changed in the past few decades, so I thought it would be fun to share some photos of the site in the early years. The site opened in... more>>

Photo of author Kathleen Ernst working as an interpreter in 1982 at Old World Wisconsin.Old World Wisconsin 1982 Coming Full Circle

I worked at Old World Wisconsin for twelve years. During those years I developed my writing skills, as well. What better training could someone writing historical fiction ask for... more>>

Photo of hand carved and rosemaled Norwegian ale bowl with cows head handles. An Ale Bowl With Cow Heads

When Old World Murder was published, my husband Scott suggested that we commission a carver and painter to create the bowl described in the novel. It was a lovely idea, but.... more>>

Photo of author Kathleen Ernst painting a tray in a rosemaling calss at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, IA. Rosemaling Through Time

My protagonist is a Norwegian-American museum curator named Chloe Ellefson. Chloe’s mom is an expert rosemaler. Knowing that this art will be touched on again in future books...  more>>

Photo of a small antique Norwegian ale bowl with rams head handles in the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum collection. Ale Bowls: Migration of a Tradition

When I was developing the plot for Old World Murder, I needed a Norwegian artifact for a major plot point.  I chose to feature an ale bowl. These old tankards, which are often beautifully carved and painted, have appealed to...  more>>

Photo of the Nite Cap Inn sign in Palmyra, WIisconsin. The Nite Cap Inn – Then and Now

Before Old World Murder was published, several people asked if writing about real places made me nervous. I have a simple rule: I only write about real places that I love... more>>

Photo of author Kathleen Ernst attending the Writer's Police Academy in 2010. Writers Police Academy

Old World Murder
has two point-of-view characters, a museum curator and a cop. As a former curator, I had that one covered. When I started writing, though, I knew little about police.... more>>

Photo of the front of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa. More Than I Was Looking For

The plot of Old World Murder revolves around an antique Norwegian ale bowl. I’ve always been intrigued by the beautifully carved and/or painted  bowls. I recently went to Vesterheim... more>>

Where To Buy

Old World Murder 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

Old World Wisconsin is a real place, and one of the premier living history museums in the county. I was lucky enough to work there as an interpreter and curator. After twelve years I moved on, but found myself missing the place! So I decided to write an adult mystery that is largely set there. 

As a reader, I enjoy the mystery genre—in large part because I love going on a long multi-book journey with favorite characters. Writing Old World Murder let me create my own main characters, Chloe Ellefson and Roelke McKenna, which was great fun. I’ve got lots of plans for them! 

Book Goodies

Link to Old World Murder preview PDF PREVIEW
Get a sneak peak
inside this book
Image of an owl with title "Book Discussion." DISCUSSION GUIDE
Questions to spark a
discussion of this book
Fossebrekke Cabin at Old World Wisconsin 1982 LOCATIONS GUIDE
Discover the places where
key scenes take place.
Recipe card for Chloe Ellefson's Maple Blueberry Cake CHLOE'S MAPLE BLUEBERRY CAKE
Oh so delicious!

Old World Memories

Take a personal tour of Old World Wisconsin with Kathleen as she explains how this real outdoor ethnic history museum became the fictional setting for her first adult mystery novel, Old World Murder. (2 min. 59 sec.)  PLAY

Migration of a Tradition

What's an ale bowl? Join Kathleen at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum as she researches ale bowls while writing Old World Murder. (2 min. 30 sec.)  PLAY

Click to Listen

Larry Meiller Show logo Larry talks with Kathleen about Old World Murder, her new adult mystery set at Old World Wiconsin.
November 30, 2010.