A Memory of Muskets
Chloe Ellefson Mystery #7
This book features love stories set during the Civil War and the 1980s, tied to a modern murder mystery with roots stretching back 150 years.
The story takes place in July 1983 at Old World Wisconsin and at Milwaukee's German Fest, with an historical plotline in the 1860s set on the Atlantic Ocean, and at Palmyra and Watertown, Wisconsin.
Curator Chloe Ellefson is happily planning to spotlight German immigrants and home-front challenges at Old World Wisconsin's first Civil War weekend. Her boss is secretly planning to fire her. He scorns her ideas, ordering the staff to stage a mock battle.
In advance of the event an unknown Civil War reenactor is found dead at one of the historic site's German farms. Chloe's boyfriend, Village of Eagle police officer Roelke McKenna, suspects murder.
The more Roelke learns about reenacting, the more he fears a killer will join the ranks at Old World. Then Chloe uncovers a disturbing secret about his Civil War-era German ancestors.
Together they must struggle to solve mysteries past and present, before Chloe loses her job—and another reenactor loses his life.
A Memory of Muskets is available as both a 408-page trade paperback and as a large print hardcover, as well as in multiple ebook versions. Each contains a map, photos, and cast of characters.
Praise For Lies Of Omission“This well-researched and compellingly told tale is a must-read for any fan of nineteenth-century American historical fiction and historical mystery devotees of any era.” Edith Maxwell Agatha Award Winning author Quaker Midwife Mysteries "Lies are the only thing omitted in Lies of Omission, the first book of Kathleen Ernst’s new mystery series featuring Hanneke Bauer. Set in Watertown, Wisconsin in 1855, the rich descriptive details give a glimpse into the Pomeranian immigrants’ home life and farming practices, as well as social issues of the time. As usual for Ernst’s books, the well developed characters make the reader feel like you would recognize them if you met them on the street. Don’t begin the book unless you have time to continue, because it will be hard to put down." Terry Schoessow Co-President Trinity Freistadt Historical Society "Lies of Omission was a wonderful read – the story is riveting and from a personal perspective, it was a wonderful trip back in time in Watertown. From Ms. Ernst’s vivid descriptions of early settlements in Watertown, to her focus on the Rock River, to the incorporation of historical businesses that once existed in this city, the pages of this book came alive to me." Melissa Lampe President Watertown Historical Society
PeopleIn the 19th century, German-speakers were the largest ethnic group to immigrate to the United States and to the state of Wisconsin. The first large wave of settlers arrived between 1846 and 1854. Upon arriving in Wisconsin in 1855, Hanneke finds a well-established and thriving German community in Watertown. Only recently married, she is relieved to have left behind the company of relatives who criticized her for “thinking too much.” Joining her forward-thinking new husband at his farm will, she believes, improve life immeasurably. In the 19th century, it was not unusual for even newly-wed couples like Hanneke and Fridolin to separate for months or even years to accomplish the daunting task of immigrating to far off America. As a capable and intelligent woman willing to confront obstacles, Hanneke is a reflection of determination of countless women to build a new life in a new land.
PlacesMany scenes in Lies of Omission are set in real places, like Watertown, Wisconsin. This is is a 1867 birds eye view map of it.
The PastLies of Omission takes place during the height of the Nativist movement in Wisconsin. Its members were mostly well-established native-born Protestants who did not welcome the growing population of German Catholic immigrants. Originally organized in secret as the Order of the Star Spangled Banner, adherents often denied their involvement with the group by claiming to “know nothing” of it. The patriotic period print below is entitled Uncle Sam's Youngest Son and depicts a prosperous Know Nothing Citizen. The Know Nothings were populists—well known for giving fiery speeches and holding torchlit parades that sometimes whipped their supporters into violence. The movement's political wing was founded in 1844 and briefly became a national political force as the American Party in the mid-1850s. Electoral failures and divisions over slavery caused the party to dissolve in 1860. Many Know Nothings in the northern states then switched over to the new Republican Party.
And MoreThe Wisconsin State Journal published an interview about Lies Of Omission with me in its Author Q&A column. You can read it by clicking here. And thanks to the magic of digital media, you can eavesdrop on me discussing Lies Of Omission (and other books) with Larry Meiller and his listeners on his popular midday Wisconsin Public Radio show. A recording of the program has been posted online for you to listen to over the internet or download a copy as a podcast.
Discussion GuideThis is the discussion guide for Lies of Omission. Click Here
Sneak Peek: Chapter 1This is a sneak peek at the book: Lies of Omission Read Chapter 1
Most scenes in A Memory of Muskets are set at real places that still exist and can be visited (except for the private homes).
Below are custom interactive maps designed to enable you to virtually visit the key locations where the story takes place.
Related Blog Posts
Why A Memory Of Muskets?
Readers often ask why I chose a particular historic site and theme to feature in a new Chloe Ellefson mystery. It has become tradition to share what I found special in each new book. Here are some of the elements found in the 7th mystery, A Memory of Muskets.
A Sampler For Rosina
Historical objects play an important role in all of the Chloe Ellefson mysteries. Often, finding an intriguing artifact in a museum collection inspires me to weave it into a story. Less commonly I go looking for an artifact to fill a specific fictional need. That was the case when I decided that Rosina, a fictional German immigrant featured in A Memory of Muskets, needed to be working on a sampler. (This book features a historical plotline as well as the main contemporary plot.)
I love including food traditions in the Chloe Ellefson mysteries. A Memory of Muskets features German heritage. Rosina, the main character in the historical plotline, brings her Bavarian mother’s springerle mold as a treasured memento when she immigrates to America.
Although setting books at different historic sites and museums is one of my favorite things about writing the Chloe Ellefson series, I do enjoy getting her home to Old World Wisconsin every now and again. The 7th mystery, A Memory of Muskets, does just that. Like me, Chloe thinks it’s special:
The Schulz Farm – Part 1
The protagonist of my Chloe Ellefson mysteries is employed as a curator at Old World Wisconsin, an open-air museum near Eagle, WI. Although most of the books are set at other sites and museums, Old World’s 67 historic structures give me lots to play with when I do set a mystery there.
Wisconsin’s Civil War Draft
The 7th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, A Memory of Muskets, features the challenges faced by newly-arrived immigrants during the Civil War. Two plotlines show how German-born immigrants struggled in the 1860s and how a living history site like Old World Wisconsin can interpret those struggles a century and more later.
Flax To Linen
I like to include folk art or craft in the Chloe Ellefson mysteries, and A Memory of Muskets is no exception. Rosina, the main character in the historical thread, is a newly-arrived German immigrant with little time for purely decorative handwork, so I decided to feature the process of creating linen. The contemporary mystery features Old World Wisconsin’s Schulz Farm, and processing flax into linen is a major interpretive activity there.
The Schulz Farm – Part 2
The Schulz Farm at Old World Wisconsin is featured in my latest Chloe Ellefson Mystery, A Memory of Muskets. Last time, I shared photos of the house. But if you’ve read the book, you know that some of the action takes place in the yard. The farm features many Old World elements. One change, however, is evident in the layout of the outbuildings.
Gifts From The Heart
In A Memory of Muskets, the 7th Chloe Ellefson mystery, I had one of my Civil War-era characters, Rosina, make a housewife. In period parlance, housewives (or “hussies” as they were sometimes called) were little sewing kits. Women often made them as parting gifts for husbands, sons, or sweethearts who were leaving for war.
Researching A Memory of Muskets
Mr. Ernst here. This book’s modern storyline is set in July 1983. Some readers find it hard to imagine life back then. For others, that time can evoke cherished memories and “Oh, I remember that!” moments. This mystery revolves around memories of our Civil War, including murders tied to a reenactment at Old World Wisconsin, the historic site where Chloe works, and a tragic love story about German immigrants who settle in Wisconsin at the war’s beginning in 1861.
Where to buy the book
You can order A Memory of Muskets in trade paperback and large print formats from indie bookstores and large vendors.
Author signed and personalized trade paperback copies can be also requested through our Contact Us Form.