top of page
Image by Kiwihug

The Heirloom Murders
Chloe Ellefson Mystery #2

This book is set in July, 1982 at Old World Wisconsin (a large outdoor history museum), the nearby Village of Eagle, and the Village of New Glarus in Green County, Wisconsin—with an historical thread in 1876.

As collections curator for Old World Wisconsin, Chloe Ellefson delights in losing herself in antiques and folk traditions—and forgetting about her overbearing boss and messy love life.

Chloe's growing, but still fragile relationship with police officer Roelke McKenna becomes more complicated by the unexpected arrival of her Swiss ex-boyfriend Markus.

Then someone breaks into her friend Dellyn’s house, a treasure trove of priceless antiques. Was the intruder seeking clues about the missing 16 carat Eagle Diamond, the legendary gemstone unearthed nearby in 1876?

When a murder takes place on the museum grounds, Chloe, Markus, and Roelke are reluctantly drawn together into a deadly mystery involving the stolen diamond, Swiss green cheese, endangered heirloom seeds—and plain old-fashioned greed.

The Heirloom Murders can be ordered as a 360-page trade paperback, and in multiple ebook and 13-hour unabridged audiobook 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
  • People
    In 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.
  • Places
    Many 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 Past
    Lies 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 More
    The 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 Guide
    This is the discussion guide for Lies of Omission. Click Here
  • Sneak Peek: Chapter 1
    This is a sneak peek at the book: Lies of Omission Read Chapter 1


Most of the scenes in this book are set at real places that still exist and can be visited (except for the private homes). Here are two resources that have been created to help you discover them.

The custom map below lets you virtually visit Old World Wisconsin and the Village of Eagle, Wisconsin area.

A Locations Guide has also been created to help you plan and get the most out of an in-person 'Chloe Tour' of these locations, plus some that are farther afield.

This four-page PDF guide includes photos and descriptions. Download and bring it along on paper or your mobile device. Enjoy your visit; tell'em Chloe sent you!

Locations Guide

Related Blog Posts

Willkommen to Volksfest

Old musical  horn instruments

Since Swiss heritage is a theme in my latest Chloe Ellefson/Historic Sites Mystery, The Heirloom Murders, my husband Scott and I have spent the past couple of years poking around the lovely communities in Green County, WI.

The Old Cheese Factory

Cheese Factory

I’ve had two wonderful opportunities this fall to see cheese being made as it was back in the day when little cheese huts could be found on many farms in Green County and surrounding areas. I’m doing research for The Heirloom Murders, Book 2 in the Chloe Ellefson/Historic Sites mystery series. (I know, tough gig.)

Vessels of Tradition

Older man and woman standing outside a brick cabin with a carriage next to them

A reader recently asked if the elderly couple in The Heirloom Murders was based on real people. I was delighted with the question. She was speaking of Johann and Frieda Frietag, a Swiss-American couple. Many Swiss immigrants settled in Green County, WI.

Researching The Heirloom Murders

Eagle WI Landmarks B600

Mr. Ernst here. This month the focus is on things interesting and indicative that turned up while researching The Heirloom Murders, the second book...

Frieda’s Kitchen

Old time stove in a kitchen

If you’ve read the second Chloe Ellefson novel, The Heirloom Murders, you’ve met Frieda Frietag. Frieda is an elderly woman of Swiss descent, living in an old family farmhouse in Green County, WI. Based on reader response, Frieda and her husband have become favorite characters.

A Retrospective

Kathleen and her husband at a dinner table eating fondue

Welcome back to the behind-the-scenes look at the Chloe Ellefson mysteries! Up today: The Heirloom Murders, second in the series. I knew where I wanted to go after wrapping up the first book, Old World Murder—Green County, Wisconsin, famous for its Swiss heritage. My father’s parents were born and raised in Switzerland, so that was a natural draw.

Where to buy the book

You can order The Heirloom Murders as a trade paperback from indie bookstores, large chains, and publisher HenschelHAUS.

It is also available as an unabridged audiobook from publisher Tantor Audio. Listen to a sample of the story below.

Author signed and personalized trade paperback copies can be also requested through our Contact Us Form.

Book SampleTantor Audio
00:00 / 03:30
bottom of page