Trade Paperback
HenschelHAUS Publishing
Large Print
Gale Publishing

Color photo of Utne Hotel founded 1722 in Utne Norway taken 2018 by Mr Ernst

Ranked in the Top 1%
of all US Print Book Sales
for 204 Days to Date
- NPD BookScan

Hardanger Norway postcard by Axel Eliassons Konstforlag in Stockholm Sweden No 5047

Chloe didn’t cry until the fiddler walked to the casket suspended over the grave, settled the instrument beneath her chin, and began to play.

Thus begins the tenth story in the award-winning Chloe Ellefson series, and thirty-eighth published book by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst.

The Chloe novels combine history and mystery with a little romance. They are written for adults and mature teens who enjoy reading stories without explicit sex, gratuitous violence, or gore.

This page offers a rich mix of background information about the people, places, and the past that went into making Fiddling With Fate.

Story Description

This book features a pair of tightly harmonized timelines.

The modern story begins and ends in Chloe's hometown of Stoughton, Wisconsin, in 1984. An historical plotline takes place during the 19th and early twentieth centuries in Norway's Hardanger region.

Chloe has the devil of a time
unraveling the mysteries of
Norways fiddle and dance traditions

After her mother's unexpected death, museum curator Chloe Ellefson discovers hidden antiques that hint at family secrets. Determined to find answers, Chloe accepts a consultant job in Norway, her ancestor's homeland.

She's thrilled with the opportunity to explore Hardanger fiddle and dance traditionsand her heritage. Once their plane lands, however, Chloe and her fiancé, cop Roelke McKenna encounter disharmony and danger. 

Chloe's research reveals strong women and the importance of fiddle music in their lives. But folklore warns against "the devil's instrument" and old evils may yet linger among the fjords and mountains. As Chloe fine-tunes her search for the truth, a killer's obsession to stop her builds to a deadly crescendo.

Fiddling With Fate includes photos of historic objects and places mentioned in the story, plus a locations map, and cast of characters.

This story is available as a 360-page trade paperback, a 547-page large print version, and in Kindle and Adobe EPUB3 ebook formats. 


What Others Are Saying

Photo of author Maddy Hunter. Maddy Hunter
Agatha Award Finalist author
Passport to Peril mystery series

"Fiddling with Fate is a riveting page-turner that culminates in a nail-biting ending. It is more than superlative fiction. It's a masterpiece."
Photo of Patricia Skalka award-winning author. Patricia Skalka
Award-winning author
Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries

"Fiddling with Fate is a story about proud, strong women and bitter dark secrets.

In her richly-detailed and multi-faceted mystery, Kathleen Ernst skillfully intertwines the past with the present as Chloe and Roelke search for her family roots in Norway amid escalating danger."
Mystery Scene Magazine logo. Mystery Scene Magazine
Review by Robin Agnew

"Ernst brings not only her characters to life, but also the Norwegian heritage Chloe is so desperate to uncover. ...I guarantee you'll be immersed in her story."
image of the Escape With Dollycas Blog logo. Lori Caswell
Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book Blog

"One the best books I have read this year!
Ernst is an amazing storyteller. Her imagination weaves a story filled with real history to take her readers on a delightful literary trip. The main characters are genuine, real and very engaging.

Each book in this series becomes my new favorite because the author continues to top herself.
Publicity photo of New York Times Bestselling Author Jane Kirkpatrick. Jane A. Kirkpatrick
New York Times Bestselling Author
of thirty novels and non-fiction titles

"This is one of Kathleen’s best—as if they could get any better. Rich images of Wisconsin and Norway and a mystery across the years and miles. Chloe and Roelke come alive by nearly dying. Holy toboggans I love this book!"
Color photo of Larry Meiller, host of The Larry Meiller show on Wisconsin Public Radio. Larry Meiller
Host of The Larry Meiller Show
Wisconsin Public Radio

"I had a chance to read Fiddling With Fate and really enjoyed it."

About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst writes award-winning mysteries, historical fiction, and non-fiction books for adults and young readers.

Her work has earned numerous honors, including two lifetime writing achievement awards, an Emmy for educational television, and an Edgar Allan Poe and multiple Agatha Christie mystery award nominations.

To date nearly 1.8 million audio, ebook, and print copies of Kathleen's thirty-eight published books have been purchased. more>>



Related Blog Posts

Enjoy Kathleen's insights about her stories, characters, and settings. Additional posts will be added below over time.

 Still image from Chloe Ellefson Norway Tour video with Bestselling Author Kathleen Ernst. Folk Art, Fjords, and Fiddles - 2022

"Let’s try this again! After a pandemic-caused delay, I’m thrilled to announce new dates for the Chloe Ellefson-themed tour of Southern Norway." more>>
Photo of local folk costumes at the Hardanger Museum in Utne Norway taken by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst. Why Norway?

"Cultural identify, and the many ways people explore and express their own, is one of the recurring themes in the Chloe Ellefson Mystery series. When readers meet Chloe in Book 1...." more>>

Stoughton Norwegian Dancers 2019 photo by Mr Ernst Norwegian Folk Dance

"It's no secret that Chloe Ellefson, protagonist of my historic sites mystery series, love folk dancing. In the second book, The Heirloom Murders, she dances with her Swiss ex..." more>>

Musician and Hardanger Fiddle at Norsk Folk Museum in Oslo Norway Hardanger Fiddles

"The first known Hardanger fiddle (the Jaastad fiddle) dates to 1651. The Hardanger region in SW Norway became famous for its fiddle makers—and fiddlers! When Chloe arrives in Norway..." more>>
Photo of the Hardanger Folkemuseum in Utne Norway taken by Mr Ernst. The Hardanger Folkemuseum

"If you’re traveling in southwest Norway, and appreciate folk traditions, the Hardanger Folkemuseum is a must-see. After my first visit, I knew I had to get Chloe Ellefson there." more>>
Photo by author Kathleen Ernst of Tveismestova home at Hardanger Folkemuseum in Utne Norway. The Oldest House

"The Hardanger Folkemuseum‘s traditional exhibits are amazing, but there is more to see at this museum in Utne, Norway! Up the hill from the museum proper is an open-air division. more>>
Voss Folkemuseum near Voss Norway. The Voss Folkemuseum

"Although most of Fiddling With Fate centers on the Hardanger Folkemuseum, I also wanted to include the Voss Folkemuseum... the farm at Mølster was established over a thousand years ago." more>>
Photo of Utne Hotel sign in Utne Norway taken by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst. The Utne Hotel

"Not many businesses claim a lineage dating back almost 300 years. The Utne Hotel, which can, is known as Norway’s oldest continuously-operating hotel." more>>
Image of Norwegian Kroting in Tveismestova farmhouse at Hardanger Folk Museum at Utne Norway Kroting

"For centuries, Norwegian farmhouses had open fireplaces. A raised hearth was built in the center of the floor, with a smoke hole in the roof above. These “smoke houses” with a central hearth and/or..." more>>
Partial front cover of Fiddling With Fate, Chloe Ellefson Mystery #10 A Day in the Life of Chloe Ellefson

Chloe writes "I knew we were in trouble as soon as the plane landed in Norway. At best, this was destined to be an emotionally challenging trip. When my mother died suddenly a few weeks ago..." more>>
Besttselling author Kathleen Ernst photo by Kay Klubertanz Reaching a Milestone

"As Chloe Ellefson walked from 1982 into 1870s Wisconsin, a white frame church emerged from the trees, prettily framed against a cloud-studded blue sky.... more>>
Plate of Norwegan Rommergrot bars made by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst.  Rømmegrøt Bars

"I love exploring historic and ethnic food traditions. Working at Old World Wisconsin in the 1980s and ’90s provided my first opportunity to delve into traditional Norwegian foodways." more>>

Photo of a mini Kransekake Norwegian wreath cake made by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst. Kransekake

"For the final scene in Fiddling With Fate, the 10th Chloe Ellefson mystery, I needed a special and festive Norwegian cake. The decision was easy: kransekake!" more>>

Author's Note

In honor of our 20th wedding anniversary, Mr. Ernst and I took a wonderful guided tour to Norway, Chloe's ancestral home.

It was a fabulous adventure.

We knew right then that I had to get Chloe and Roelke to Norway. Three years later we returned to the Hardanger area, one of our favorites, to research their trip.

bestselling author Kathleen Ernst overlooking the Hardanger Fjord at Utne Norway while crafting her 10th Chloe Ellefson mystery: Fiddling With Fate. Photo by Mr Ernst.

Now I'm proud to invite you to join us for an 11-day guided tour to Norway! 

We'll retrace the route taken by Chloe and Roelke, starting in Bergen. Then we will explore the beautiful Hardanger region by motorcoach and ferry, visiting locations where key scenes are set. And as a bonus we'll finish up in the capital city of Oslo.

Video announcement about the Chloe Ellefson 2021 Tour to Norway with Author Kathleen Ernst

For a detailed brochure, click HERE.

When I originally chose to make Chloe a Norwegian-American, I had no idea how much fun exploring her heritage would be!

I’ve learned a lot, acquired new hobbies (rosemaling, nålbinding, and Hardanger embroidery), baked kransekake and fattigmann, and—best of all—made wonderful friends within the Norwegian-American community.

Mr. Ernst and I are grateful for the warm welcome we’ve received in Norwegian circles—and from all of the wonderful readers who've chosen to go adventuring vicariously with Chloe and Roelke.

Color photo of bestselling author Kathleen Ernst and Mr Ernst taken by an unknown photographer in Norway 2015.

We hope all of you get as much enjoyment from reading Fiddling With Fate as we did from creating the tenth Chloe mystery!

                       Kathleen Ernst's signature graphic

Book discussion logo. DISCUSSION GUIDE
Questions to help spark
a group conversation.


Mothers and daughters. The relationship can be complicated! In Fiddling With Fate, Chloe travels to Norway seeking answers to questions about her mother’s life.

Chloe’s journey brings her closer to understanding not only her mother, but a chain of determined and talented women.

Colorized portrait by famed Norwegian photographer Solveig Lund (1868-1943).

Each of Chloe’s ancestors made choices that echoed though the generations. Some chose to share their knowledge with their daughters and granddaughters.

Others carefully guarded their secrets, but ended up passing on certain experiences and wisdom through genetic memory.

These are the women who helped shape Chloe’s life and cultural identity.


Many scenes in Fiddling With Fate are set in real places, like Chloe's hometown of Stoughton, Wisconsin, and her ancestral homeland in Norway's Hardanger region.

For readers who would like to tour these places, but cannot, Mr. Ernst is creating the custom interactive Google maps below.

When ready sometime in 2021, you can use them to visit the story's key locations.

Stoughton, Wisconsin

Custom Google Map with pin indicating location of Stoughton, Wisconsin, USA.

Utne, Hardanger Fjord, Norway

Custom Google Map with pin indicating location of Utne, Norway.

The Past

Historical events and objects, and heritage crafts and traditional foods, are staples in each one of my Chloe Ellefson mysteries. Fiddling With Fate is no exception.

Mr. Ernst is creating a slideshow of some of my favorite things from the story. Once it is finished in early 2021, you will be able to click on any image to view a larger version of the slideshow, complete with detailed descriptions for each image.

Color photo of a Hardanger fiddle decorated with dancing devils. Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum collection. Used with permission.

And More

I've created a video that includes some of the sights and sounds I experienced while researching Fiddling With Fate.

The soundtrack features a tradtional lullabyVøtranotte (The Winter's Night). Hardanger mothers have sung it for centuries to lull their children to sleep.

This song, and the 700-800 year old farm house it was recorded in, inspired a scene in the book. Enjoy the visit.

Hardanger Lullaby, a video by Kathleen Ernst copyright 2020

And thank to the magic of digital media, you can eavesdrop on me discussing Chloe, Roelke, and their adventures in Norway with Larry and his listeners on this popular Wisconsin Public Radio show.

Larry Meiller Show Larry Meiller
Wisconsin Public Radio
38 Min. 07 sec.
September 5, 2019

Where To Buy This Book

You can order Fiddling With Fate in trade paperback and large print formats from indie bookstores and large booksellers.

Author signed and personalized trade paperback copies can be also requested directly from me by clicking HERE.

NOTE: Due to a change in publishers, eBook copies are not currently available, but will be re-republished.

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