THE LACEMAKER'S SECRET
CHLOE ELLEFSON MYSTERY #9

eBook & Trade Paperback - Now Available
Midnight Ink Books 

Massart farm at  Heritage Hill State Historical Park, Green Bay, Wisconsin. 'Belgian Farm' by William J. Schneider 1998. Used with permission of the Heritage Hill Foundation.

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'Bruges, Les Dentellieres,' circa 1920, Guggenheim & Co., Zurich. Kathleen Ernst collection.


“Something is burdening you," Libby told Roelke McKenna. "Spill it. Now."

"Nothing's wrong."

Libby's eyes narrowed. "I don't believe you."

Roelke turned to the kitchen counter where an old-fashioned percolator burbled with promise. Trust his cousin to just know

 

Thus begins the ninth story in the award-winning Chloe Ellefson series, and thirty-seventh 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 The Lacemaker's Secret.

Story Description


This book features two separate timelines, delicately laced together.

The modern story takes place in late fall 1983 in the City of Green Bay, nearby Door County, and the Villages of Eagle and Palmyra, Wisconsin. The historical story begins in the Kingdom of Belgium during 1848 and continues in Door County from 1854 to shortly after World War I.

Greed, Uncertainty, and Death
Get Tangled in the Mystery
of a Rare Piece of Belgian Lace

Museum Curator Chloe Ellefson needs distraction from the unsettling family secret she's just learned. It doesn't help that her boyfriend, police officer Roelke McKenna, has been troubled for weeks and won't say why.

Chloe hopes a consulting job at Green Bay's Heritage Hill Historical Park, where an old Belgian-American farmhouse is being restored, will be a relaxing escape.

Instead she discovers a body in a century-old bake oven.

Chloe's research suggests that a rare and valuable piece of lace made its way to nearby Door County, Wisconsin, with the earliest Belgian settlers. More importantly, someone is desperate to find it.

Inspired by a courageous Belgian woman who survived cholera, famine, and the most devastating forest fire in American history, Chloe must untangle clues to reveal secrets old and new . . . before the killer strikes again.
 

The Lacemaker's Secret includes photos of historic objects and places mentioned in the story, plus a locations map, and cast of characters.

The book can be ordered now as a 408-page trade paperback and in Kindle and Adobe EPUB3 ebook formats. It comes out October 8, 2018. 

   
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What Others Are Saying

Kirkus Reviews logo. Kirkus Reviews 

"In this heartfelt tale of labor and love, Ernst produces one of her most winning combinations of historical evocation and clever mystery."
 
Logo of the Belgian Heritage Center in Namur Wisconsin. Barb (Englebert) Chisholm
Historian, Belgian Heritage Center
Sandy (Lampereur) Orsted
Treasurer, Belgian Heritage Center

"The Lacemaker’s Secret is an intriguing mystery that is full of fascinating historical details and perfectly captures our local culture. The challenges, determination and triumph of the early Belgian settlers are brought to life, as well as the enduring respect of generations of descendants who continue their traditions and love of the land. As supporters of the Belgian Heritage Center and descendants of those courageous Belgians, we couldn’t ask for a more entertaining way to share our story. We thoroughly enjoyed this book!"
 
Mystereity Book Reviews logo. Mystereity Reviews

"Inspiring, captivating, and evocative! This haunting tale weaves a heartbreaking old world story with a gripping modern mystery into a hypnotic story, and the lessons learned hold meaning for everyone; strength, faith, and family will help you through any hardship."
 
 image of the Escape With Dollycas Blog logo. Lori Caswell
Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book Blog

"A fantastic story filled with characters that are truly believable. They will draw readers deep into their lives. This is an amazing read!"
 
Photo of Alan C. Pape. Photographer unknown. Alan C. Pape
former Restoration Chief, Old World Wisconsin

"The Lacemaker's Secret...allows readers rare access to Wisconsin's old country heritage through a factual and picture-perfect manner.  ...My old log cabin maker's hat goes off to Kathleen for bringing attention to many important stories and sites of pioneering, and those who risked everything to begin again in the New World."
 
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About the Author

 

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

Kathleen's work has earned numerous honors, including an Emmy for educational television, as well as an Edgar Allan Poe and multiple Agatha Christie mystery award nominations.

To date 1,750,000 audio, ebook, and print copies of Kathleen's now thirty-seven published books have been purchased. more>>

 

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Related Blog Posts


Enjoy the author's insights about the story, characters, and settings. Note: additional posts will be added below over time.

Massart Family Farm at Heritage Hill Historical Park in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Why Belgians and Lace? 

"The 9th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, The Lacemaker's Secret, is set in Green Bay and southern Door County, Wisconsin. It features the Belgian immigrants who arrived in that area in..." more>> 
 
Photo of bestselling author Kathleen Ernst at Old World Wisconsin taken by Kay Klubertanz. Immigrants

"People sometimes ask why I so often write about 19th-century immigrants. My fascination began in the 1980s when I worked at an outdoor ethnic museum called Old World Wisconsin..." more>>

 
Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst, who wrote The Lacemaker's Secret, the 9th Chloe Ellefson mystery, holding the Belgian cherry pie she baked in a class taught by Gina Guth in Door County, Wisconsin. Belgian Pies

"There are lots of fun things about writing a mystery series that celebrates ethnic heritage. One of those is the chance to explore food traditions. When I started researching..." more>>
 
 CONTACT KATHLEEN
 JOIN KATHLEEN'S EMAIL LIST
 VISIT HER FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE

Author's Note

One of the pleasures of writing a series is the opportunity to delve more deeply into the main characters with each new book.

Chloe and Roelke’s struggles often mirror issues that the historical characters face. Themes in this book—reflected in both the modern and historical timelines—include challenges of faith and forgiveness.

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst at the Belgium Massart family log barn at Heritage Hill State Historic Park, Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Faith helped Belgian immigrants face the enormous obstacles they encountered, beginning in the 1850s, establishing new lives as farmers in the thickly forested wilderness of northeast Wisconsin.

Their faith, and incredible hard work, created the largest rural settlement of Belgians in our country.

As Chloe researches their history, she becomes dangerously tangled in a pattern of modern murders tied to their Belgian American descendants, and lace. 

                       Kathleen Ernst's signature graphic

P.S. -- Roelke spends much of this book in the Village of Eaglepursuing a cold case and wrestling with his own challenges of faith and forgivenessbefore uniting with Chloe to help her bring the modern story to an exciting and satisfying conclusion.

Book discussion logo.       DISCUSSION GUIDE      
  Questions to help you spark 
  a book group conversation.
      COMING LATE 2018

People

To help readers understand on a personal level some of what the Belgian immigrants experienced, I created the character of Seraphine Moreau.

You’ll first meet her in the Kingdom of Belgium when she and her twin Octavie, newly orphaned, are sent to a convent.

There they learn the delicate art of making bobbin lace. Seraphine discovers she has a talent for the work, and dreams of being a piqueuse—one who creates lace patterns.

Belgian woman making lace. Cropped black & white carte postale image circa 1920 by Nels, Bruxelles, Series Laitiere No. 14 in the collection of author Kathleen Ernst.

Seraphine grows into an accomplished lacemaker, and becomes engaged to her childhood friend; Octavie's faith deepens, and she commits to becoming a nun.

Seraphine's fiancé, Jean-Paul LeJeune, announces he is emigrating to Wisconsin to start a farm, and asks her to join him. Reluctantly she bids farewell to Octavie, the convent's sistersand to lacemaking. Perhaps forever.

What follows are the stories of their lives, as seen through Seraphine's eyes and letters the twins exchange over decades. 

Places

Many scenes in this book are set at places in the Namur Belgian-American Historic District, and at Green Bay's Heritage Hill State Historical Park, that you can visit. 

After Lacemaker's comes out in October, I'll add a custom interactive Google map below so you can also virtually visit key public locations where scenes are set.

Green Bay & Door County, Wisconsin

Custom Google Map with pin on Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Past

Historical events and objects, and heritage crafts and traditional foods, are staples in each one of my Chloe Ellefson mysteries. The Lacemaker's Secret is no exception.

In most of the Chloe mysteries I include a folk art from the featured ethnic group, but a tour of the Smithsonian Institution’s superb collection inspired me to spotlight Belgium’s famous lace industry. 

This fall I'll add a slide show here featuring some of my favorite things from the book, including examples of Belgian lace. 

Photo of Williamsonville Wisconsin 1871 fire memorial plaque.

And More

Thanks to the magic of digital media, you can now eavesdrop on me discussing Chloe, Roelke, and Seraphine on this popular Wisconsin Public Radio show.

Larry Meiller Show Larry Meiller
Wisconsin Public Radio
37 Min. 45 sec.
October 9, 2018
(Source)

Where To Buy

The Lacemaker's Secret can be purchased from the following vendors (and others) in ebook and trade paperback formats.

Click below to order your copy now.

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You can request a signed and personalized printed copy from me by clicking HERE.