Trade Paperback
HenschelHAUS Publishing

Chloe Ellefson was not having a good time. "So," Roelke said, sliding into his seat at the banquet table. "Are you enjoying yourself?" Chloe smiled brightly. "I am!"

Thus begins the fifth story in the award-winning Chloe Ellefson series, the thirtieth 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 Tradition of Deceit.

Story Description

The book takes place in Milwaukee, WI and Minneapolis, MN during February 1983, with historical threads set in 1878 and the 1920s.

Curator and occasional sleuth Chloe Ellefson is off to Minneapolis to help her friend Ariel with a monumental task. They must write a proposal for a controversial and expensive restoration project to convert a huge abandoned flour millcurrently used as an unofficial shelter by homeless peopleinto a history museum.

When a dead body is found in the building, stuffed in a grain chute, Chloe reluctantly turns her attention from milling to murder.

Back in Milwaukee, Chloe's love interest Roelke McKenna has been slammed with the news that a fellow police officer (his best friend) has been shot and killed while on duty.

Sifting through clues from the past and present, Chloe and Roelke separately discover dangerous secrets that put their trust in each otherand their very livesat risk.

Tradition of Deceit is readily available as a 360-page trade paperback and in ebook versions. Each contains photos and a cast of characters.

To see a partial list of vendors that offer this book, click HERE.


What Others Are Saying

Photo of award-winning mystery author GM Malliet. GM Malliet
Agatha Award-winning Author
of the St. Just and Max Tudor mysteries

"A page-turner with a clever surprise ending. I very much enjoyed this satisfying tale and look forward to more adventures with Chloe."

Kirkus Reviews logo. Kirkus Reviews

"...provides informative historical facts, two good mysteries, and the trials and tribulations of a difficult relationship."
photo of New York Times Bestselling Author Jane Kirkpatrick Jane Kirkpatrick
New York Times Bestselling Author
Where Lilacs Still Bloom and The Daughter's Walk

"Kathleen is a master story-teller... Don't start this until you have time to read straight through because there is no good place to stop."
Mystery Scene Magazine logo. Mystery Scene Magazine

"With a wry voice and a light touch, this was a pleasant read with a really strong central female character."
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

"...really enjoyed it. I think it's her best one yet."
Partial book cover of "Milwaukee's Old South Side" by Jill Florence Lackey and Rick Petrie, from Arcadia Publishing.  Jill Florence Lackey, Phd.
Author of Milwaukee's Old South Side and American Ethnic Practices in the Twenty-first Century: The Milwaukee Study

"This is more than a mystery. It is a plush journey into cultural time and place."
Escape With Dollycas blog logo  Lori Caswell
Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book Blog

"This was such a fascinating read I feel as if I devoured it. Definitely deserves more than 5 stars!"

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 blog posts will be added during the fall of 2014.

Photo by Kathleen Ernst of the Milll City Museum sign, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Why The Mill City Museum?

"In Tradition of Deceit, Chloe visits a friend in Minneapolis to help with a proposal to turn a long-abandoned flour mill into a museum..."  more>>
Image of a chicken created by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst using Polish papercutting known as Wycinanki (Vee-Chee-Non-Kee). This chicken image serves as a clue in Tradition of Deceit, the fifth Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery written by Kathleen, published by Midnight Ink Books. Hands-On Wycinanki

"Readers have been wondering where they can try their hands at wycinanki, the art of Polish paper cutting featured in Tradition of Deceit..." more>>

Photo by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst of the ornate ironwork over an entrance to the Waupun Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin, which is a setting in Tradition of Deceit, Kathleen's fifth Chloe Ellefson adult mystery series published by Midnight Ink books. Roelke Goes to Prison

"When writing Tradition of Deceit, I needed to include a set scene at a prison. Waupun Correctional Institution was the logical choice. The prison is..." more>>
Color photo of a slice of Tunnel of Fudge cake, taken from 17th annual Pillsbury Busy Lady Bake-Off Recipes booklet of 1966. Tunnel of Fudge Cake

"I had not heard of the Tunnel of Fudge Cake until I began doing research while writing Tradition of Deceit (the 5th Chloe Ellefson mystery), which celebrates Minnesota’s flour milling..." more>>
Milwaukee's Old South Side Settlement Museum sign. Urban Anthropology in Milwaukee's Old South Side

"I discovered the wonderful work being done by Urban Anthropology while working on Tradition of Deceit. The organization’s museum and..." more>>
Color photo of General Thaddeus Kosciuszko in Kosciuszko Park on Lincoln Avenue in Milwaukee's Old South Side neighborhood.  Why Milwaukee's Old South Side?

"If you’ve read any of the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mysteries, you’ve already met Officer Roelke McKenna. Based on reader mail, he's a..." more>>
Meet Pavel

"Often in the Chloe books, a very minor character ends up being among the most memorable. I discovered this..." more>>
Folk dress from the Lowicz region, by Irena Czarnecka; card printed in Poland, partial print Polish Heritage

"In previous Chloe books I’ve featured Norwegian, Swiss, and Danish culture. When I began conceptualizing Tradition of Deceit..."  more>>
Color photo of a Polish Paczki donut. Paczki - Polish Doughnuts

"In Poland—and Polish communities—Fat Thursday is observed on the Thursday before Lent. People traditionally celebrate by eating..." more>>
Wycinanki artists Kasia Drake-Hames (center) and her grandmother (left) and Kasia's mother (right) at Poland Under Glass 2015 in Milwaukee, WI. Wycinanki

"Folk art plays a role in most of the Chloe Ellefson mysteries. Since Tradition of Deceit features bits of Polish culture, I decided to include..." more>>
Color copy of a color print ad for the Betty Crocker Gold Medal show on WCCO radio in Minneapolis, MN. Cooking With Betty Crocker...

"When I was writing Tradition of Deceit, I marveled at the connections between the the Mill City Museum, one of the settings, and popular American..."  more>>
Milwaukee Police Department District 2 Station. Photo by Scott Meeker. Missing the Mark

Roelke writes: "I'm in a bad way. My best friend and former partner, Rick Almirez of the Milwaukee Police Department, was killed on duty the other night. He was..." more>>
Colorful Wycinaki Polish papercutting piece by Kathleen Ernst, bestselling author of Tradition of Deceit, a Chloe Ellefson mystery. Tradition of Deceit - A Retrospective

"As I began conceptualizing Tradition of Deceit, the 5th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, I had several goals in mind. Since main characters Chloe and Roelke were getting along pretty well..." more>>
Black and white photo of a passenger train pulling into Hastings MN railroad station circa 1920. Researching Tradition of Deceit

"Mr. Ernst here. In Tradition Of Deceit (TOD) Chloe and Roelke get caught up in separate mysteries, in separate cities, each facing deadly perils on their own. Chloe’s in Minneapolis..." more>>


Author's Note

My interests and experience are generally rural, so it takes very special stories and places to lure me into the heart of a city. This book features two such settings.

Roelke is unexpectedly drawn back to his former police beat in the Old South Side of Milwaukee, a vibrant, tight-knit, and once largely Polish community.

Chloe visits Minneapolis, where a friend at the Minnesota Historical Society is trying to help transform an enormous abandoned flour mill into an industrial museum.

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst standing in the Turn Head Distributor room at the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis, where a key scene takes place in Tradition of Deceit, the fifth book in her Chloe Ellefson mystery series. Photo by Kay Klubertanz of Designs by K.

Though separated by hundreds of miles, the mysteries and threats they encounter are culturally and historically linked. 

I had a wonderful time crafting this book; may you have just as much fun reading it!

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.



In Tradition of Deceit Chloe and Roelke are separated by distance and circumstances, each facing challenges that threaten their budding relationshipand their lives.

In the opening scene Chloe gets her first exposure to Roelke's world when they attend the wedding of two Milwaukee police officers. The experience highlights their differences, and subsequent events raise fundamental questions about their prospects for a happy future together.

Photo of a Milwaukee Police Officer checking a door during a snowstorm.Photo of a female mill worker at the Gold meal flour mill.

Rick and Lidia are two of the secondary characters at the heart of this book. Rick Alvarez is Roelke's best friend; together the two attended Milwaukee's police academy, and later walked patrol beats in the city's Old South Side neighborhood.

Lidia is a third generation Polish-American born and raised in the Bohemian Flats neighborhood of Minneapolis, and one of the very first women hired to work in the city's then vibrant flour milling industry.

Click the download link below to get the 1930's recipe for the old-time cookies that Chloe bakes to cheer up her friend Ariel.

 Image of a recipe card. CINNAMON JUMBLES
Cookies from the 1930's


Most of the scenes in this book 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.

Click on the maps to begin your tour.

Milwaukee, WI

The Old South Side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Minneapolis, MN

Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Past

Historical events and objects, as well as heritage crafts and traditional foods are staples in each of my Chloe mysteries.

In Tradition of Deceit Chloe and Roelke spend much of their time apart, but Polish-American artwork, food, and history are woven into their separate adventures.

While researching Tradition I discovered a number of remarkable historical events, objects, and images. Some influenced the story, others appear in the book.

The slideshow below contains some of my favorites. Click on any image to see larger copies of the slides, with descriptions. (Warning: Contains some spoilers.)

And More

I've been the guest of two wonderful radio hosts, who invited me to discuss the book. Thanks to their generosity, and the magic of digital media, you can listen to our conversations about Tradition of Deceit. Click the right-facing arrows to listen.

Lake Effect Audio Clip Mitch Teich
Milwaukee Public Radio
11 min. 43 sec.
November 19, 2014.

Larry Meiller Show Larry Meiller
Wisconsin Public Radio
38 Min. 08 sec.
November 18, 2014


Buy This Book

You can order Tradition of Deceit as a trade paperback from independent book stores and the publisher, HenschelHAUS.

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; they will be re-republished.

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