Fiddling With Fate
Chloe Ellefson Mystery #10
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.
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 traditions—and 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.
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
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.
The custom map below shows locations from the book.
Related Blog Posts
Cultural identity, 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, Old World Murder, she takes her own Norwegian heritage largely for granted. Her feelings evolve over time, and by Book 10, she is eager to learn more about her ancestors.
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 my protagonist Chloe Ellefson there. Most of Fiddling With Fate, the 10th Chloe mystery, takes pace in Hardanger, and the museum is prominently featured.
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. In 1722 Peder Larsson Børsem was given a license to run a guesthouse in the village of Utne. The village was home to the district court, which kept travelers coming and going. A post office was established in 1826, and steamship travel in 1861. Explorers were followed by tourists.
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! The Norwegian kransekake, or wreath cake, is formed from a series of concentric rings, stacked to make a cone.
Norwegian Folk Dance
It’s no secret that Chloe Ellefson, protagonist of my historic sites mystery series, loves folk dancing. In the second book, The Heirloom Murders, she dances with her Swiss ex, Markus. The 10th book, Fiddling With Fate, reveals that she was a member of Stoughton High School’s Norwegian Dancers group. (Stoughton, WI, is well known for its Norwegian heritage.)
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. Two of the buildings there were original to the grounds, but most have been moved from other locations in the Hardanger area, and restored. It’s a gorgeous setting.
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 corner fireplace were common along the western coast. Kroting was a simple way of decorating a house with smoke-stained logs and few or no windows. In Fiddling With Fate, the 10th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, Chloe senses why it was important:
The 10th Chloe Ellefson Mystery sends Chloe and her fiancé, Roelke McKenna, to Norway. Given the book’s title, it’s probably obvious that the plot involves Hardanger Fiddles. Historians believe that violins arrived in Norway by the 1600s, probably from Germany and Italy. 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!
The Voss Folkemuseum
Although most of Fiddling With Fate centers on the Hardanger Folkemuseum, I also wanted to include the Voss Folkemuseum, a sister site. The museum, founded in 1917, preserves the old farmstead at Mølster (Mølstertunet). That museum has a special claim: all of the buildings at the site stand on their original locations. Historians believe the farm at Mølster was established over a thousand years ago. In western Norway, it was once common for several small farms to be clustered together.
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. Deciding to make Chloe Ellefson (protagonist of my mystery series) a Norwegian-American rekindled my interest in traditional foods. I imagined taking plates of Norwegian cookies to every library program and bookstore visit.
Where to buy the 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 through our Contact Us Form.