Trade Paperback
HenschelHAUS Publishing
Large Print
Gale Publishing

Photo of the Mudsills Civil War reenacting unit taken circa 1985 at Old World Wisconsin by John Wedeward. Photo edited by Scott Meeker.Photo of oak tree taken at the Scuppernong River Habitat Area in the Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit by author Kathleen Ernst. Photo edited by Scott Meeker.

“I want a fight,” Ralph Petty said. Chloe started to protest, but remembered just in time that this was not her meeting, not her show. She closed her mouth and tried to look thoughtful. 

Thus begins the seventh story in the award-winning Chloe Ellefson series, the thirty-fourth 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 A Memory of Muskets.

Story Description

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.

To see a partial list of the vendors offering the book, click HERE.


What Others Are Saying

Color photo of Agatha mystery award-winning author Kathy Lynn Emerson. Kathy Lynn Emerson
Agatha Award-Winning Author
How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries

"Kathleen knows how to spin a tale, weave an intricate plot, and hide clues in the embroidery. She takes two stories separated by more than a century and knits them together into one thoroughly satisfying read."

Kirkus Reviews blue logo. Kirkus Reviews

"Provides a new perspective on the Civil War woven together with a compelling mystery."
Photo of award-winning New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick. Jane Kirkpatrick
New York Times Bestselling Author
This Road We Traveled

"It's like reading a Louise Penny novel where I care so much about these characters and this place that they're like my family."
Suspense Magazine logo. Suspense Magazine

"This murder mystery is certainly believable and extremely well-written."
Photo of Chapter A Day host Jim Fleming of Wisconsin Public Radio. Jim Fleming
Host of Chapter A Day
Wisconsin Public Radio

"I fell for Kathleen’s book based on the setting and the characters. Throwing in a mystery and the inevitable conflicts which can threaten a compelling worksite just made it better."
Logo of the Escape Into A Good Book With Dollycas blog by Lori Caswell. Lori Caswell
Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book blog

"...a great story with a captivating mystery and the perfect amount of history too. She gives us very detailed descriptions that make the story come alive and easy to visualize."

About the Author


Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst writes award-winning mysteries, historical fiction, and non-fiction 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 the author's insights about the story, characters, and settings. Note: additional posts will be added during the latter half of 2016.

Modern-made tintype of bestselling author Kathleen Ernst and her husband Scott Meeker in 1860's wedding attaire, taken at Old World Wisconsin in September 1995. Photographer unknown. 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..." more>> 
The Schultz Farm - Part 1

"Curator Chloe Ellefson, protagonist of my Chloe Ellefson mysteries, is employed at Old World Wisconsin, an open-air museum near Eagle, WI. Although most of the books are..." more>>
Photo of the German Schultz Farm half timbered stable at Old World Wisconsin. Photo by Loyd Heath. The Schultz Farm - Part 2

"The German 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..." more>>
The Kvale farmhouse built by Norwegian immigrants to Wisconsin, now located at Old World Wisconsin. Photo by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst. My Boss Is Driving Me Crazy...

Chloe writes "I'm not a complete idiot. But my boss seems to think I am. Has that ever happened to you? Frankly, it's maddening." more>>
The German Schultz Farm at Old World Wisconsin, featured in the Chloe Ellefson mystery A Memory of Muskets by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst. Photo circa 2015 by the author. Should I Take a Chance?

Roelke writes "I finally got to meet Chloe's boss Ralph Petty the other day. I've been hearing about Petty Atrocities for over a year, and she's right about one thing: Petty is a complete..." more>>
Sepia image formal portrait of young couple circa 1860s, with Bishop & Son, Watertown, Wisconsin photographer backmark. From the collection of bestselling author Kathleen Ernst. Across the Atlantic, 1861

Rosina writes "I never expected to immigrate to America. I was an orphan, living with my father's cousin Maria. I believe she did hate me, but she wanted me to take care of her." more>>
This sampler was made in 1878 Mrs. Paul Weigel, Sr., the former Anna Franzel, made this sampler in 1878 while working in Milwaukee, now in the collection of the North Wood County Historical Society. Used with permission. Photo by Kathleen Ernst. 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..."  more>>
The Gotton Cabin, located just northeast of the Village of Eagle, Wisconsin. Photo by Scott Meeker. A Lingering Presence

Chloe writes "The cabin was home to the first Roelkes to immigrate to Wisconsin, Klaus and Rosina. I think the emotion lingering in the cabin was left by Rosina, who lived there the longest." more>>
Third Wisconsin Civil War reenacting unit marching at Ol World Wisconsin. Photographer unknown. A Day in the Life of Chloe Ellefson

Chloe writes "All I wanted to do was host a good special event at Old World Wisconsin, the big historic site where I work as a curator. A Civil War reenactment, to be exact." more>>
Reenactors portraying American Civil War civilian refugees at Spring Hill, Tennessee. Photographer unknown. A Complicated Hobby

"Have you ever attended a Civil War reenactment? Perhaps a few men dressed in uniform came to your local historical society to demonstrate drill. Or maybe you got to see a huge battle..." more>>
American Civil War reenactor Larry Hackney at the Four Mile Inn, at Old World Wisconsin, during a reenactment of the military draft.  Note the lottery wheel on the table. Photographer unknown, taken circa mid-1980s. 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..." more>>
Color photo by Lynn Kalil of a handmade American Civil War soldier's 'housewife' sewing kit. Gifts From The Heart

"In A Memory of Musketsthe 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..." more>>
Plate of heart-shaped German Springerle cookies, baked by Andrea Erickson. Springerle

"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..." more>>
Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst of Chloe Ellefson mystery books spinning flax as an interpreter at Old World Wisconsin in 1982. Photographer unknown. 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..." more>>
1995 wedding of Kathleen Ernst and Scott Meeker at Old World Wisconsin. 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..." more>>
Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst at Milwaukee's German Fest researching scenes for her Chloe Ellefson mystery A Memory of Muskets. Photo by Scott Meeker. Memory of Muskets - A Retrospective

"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..." more>>

Author's Note

To the uninitiated, Civil War reenactors may seem like a very like-minded group.

But actually, there are many large and sometimes strongly held differences between them. Heated arguments can erupt over loyalties to the North or South, authenticity standards, and about women portraying male soldiers 'in the ranks'.

A Memory of Muskets is based on personal experience. I was involved in American Civil War reenacting for many years, both as a participant and as the site host for such events at Old World Wisconsin.

Kathleen Ernst and Nels Monson in 1860's period clothing speaking at a Civil War reenactment at Old World Wisconsin circa mid-1980's. Photographer unknown.

Given the presence of guns and grudges, 'The Hobby' (as Civil War reenactors say) is the perfect backdrop for a murder.
            Kathleen Ernst's signature graphic

P.S. -- Below is a free PDF guide to help book groups discuss this story. Enjoy! (Caution: contains spoilers.) 

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


The Chloe Ellefson series features a strong pair of point of view characters: Chloe, a museum curator (and reluctant sleuth), and her cop boyfriend Roelke McKenna. 

A Memory of Muskets introduces Roelke's maternal great-grandmother, Rosina. 

Facing the prospect of an oppressive life in Germany, this 16-year-old agrees to marry a German immigrant—sight unseenwho lives in a far-off place called Wisconsin.

Carte de Visite (CDV) of a young couple. Image taken by Bishop & Son, Watertown, Wisconsin circa 1860s, now in the collection of bestselling author Kathleen Ernst.

The American Civil War begins as Rosina crosses the ocean. The war's impact, and the secrets she carries into her marriage, lie at the heart of the bookand send mystery and peril echoing through time into the modern lives of Chloe and Roelke. 

One reviewer wrote. "When I finished this novel, it was Klaus and Rosina that stayed with me. Even days after. I think they always will. Their relationship is a reminder of how precious time is and how important trust is in a partnership."

BTW, in the story there's a German folksong that I've associated with Rosina: Sah ein Knab, ein Röslein stehn (Once a Boy, a Rosebud Spied). The words are by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe from 1771, set to music by Franz Schubert from 1815. Here's an instrumental version.

Photo of a Wild Rose Erling Jan Sørensen
Erling Music Danmark
3 Min. 28 sec.


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 Google maps designed to enable you to virtually visit the key locations where the story takes place.

When you open a map, clicking on a red pin will reveal a photo and brief description of that locationbut no spoilers.

Click on a map below to start your tour.

Old World Wisconsin and Eagle

Google map of the Eagle Wisconsin and Old World Wisconsin area.

Southeastern Wisconsin

Google map of Southeast Wisconsin.

The Past

Historical events and objects, as well as heritage crafts and traditional foods, are staples in each one of my Chloe mysteries. A Memory of Muskets is no exception.

My research focused on immigrants from Germany who arrived in Wisconsin in the mid-1800s, and their German-American descendants who by the early 1980's make up the state's largest ethnic group.

Below are some of my favorite things from the story. Click on any image to view a larger version of the slideshow, complete with detailed descriptions for each image. (Caution: contains some spoilers.)

And More

Host Jim Fleming of Wisconsin Public Radio's popular Chapter A Day program crafted an abridged version of Kathleen's  A Memory of Muskets, which aired in 20 episodes during August 2017.

Here's Jim reading the story's beginning.

Jim Fleming, Chapter A Day program, Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR). Jim Fleming
Chapter A Day
Wisconsin Public Radio
2 Min. 36 sec.

Thanks also to the magic of digital media, you can eavesdrop on me talking about Chloe, Roelke, Rosina, and the story.

Larry Meiller Show Larry Meiller
Wisconsin Public Radio
35 Min. 04 sec.
October 11, 2016
Lake Effect logo Joy Powers
Milwaukee Public Radio
11 Min. 45 sec.
November 11, 2016

Buy This 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 acquired directly from me by clicking HERE.

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

 HenschelHAUS Publishing logo.  TRADE PAPERBACK
Buy from Indiebound Books TRADE PAPERBACK
Bookshop.com logo TRADE PAPERBACK
Buy from Amazon.com KINDLE eBOOK
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Buy from Barnes & Noble TRADE PAPERBACK