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The Light Keeper's Legacy
Chloe Ellefson Mystery #3

This book takes place in Door County, Wisconsin in September 1982, with an historical thread that is set between 1869 and 1906.

Museum curator (and reluctant sleuth) Chloe Ellefson jumps at the chance to spend time on Wisconsin’s Rock Island, a state park with no electricity or roads. She's there on temporary assignment from Old World Wisconsin to consult on restoring the island’s historic 1858 lighthouse. Solitude at last!

Chloe's research into the island's history turns up fascinating, tough-as-nails women from the past. But her tranquility is spoiled when a dead woman washes ashore. Is it an accidental drowning? Or have local tensions over tighter Lake Michigan commercial fishing regulations reached a dangerous boiling point?

When Chloe discovers a second body, she finds herself trapped alone with a killer on remote Rock Island.

Light Keeper's Legacy can be ordered as a 360-page trade paperback, as well as in multiple ebook and 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


My stories are set in places that I love. That's especially true for this book.

The settings in The Light Keeper's Legacy are real. Almost all of them still exist and can be visited. These two resources will help you discover them.

The custom map below lets you virtually visit Washington and Rock Islands, where I set most of the story. Click on the map to begin.

The Locations Guide below was created to help you plan, and get the most out of, an in-person Chloe tour of the islands.

This guide contains lots of photos, maps, and descriptions. It also includes advice on when to visit, how to get there, and some of my favorite places to eat and stay.

Take this free, 13-page PDF file with you on paper or your mobile device.

Enjoy your visit to the islands!

Locations Guide

Related Blog Posts

The Empty Meadow

A empty meadow

I had intended to write a novel “just” about Pottawatomie Lighthouse in Rock Island State Park. Why look any farther? Pottawatomie has it all: a fascinating human history, a stunning location, an impressive and beautifully restored structure. My husband Scott and I have done stints as live-in docents for the past five years, so we know it well.

Water, Water Everywhere, Nor Any Drop To Drink

Old house

So said Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his famous ballad, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I suspect that some of the former light keepers at Pottawatomie Lighthouse (Rock Island, WI) muttered the same phrase.

Researching The Light Keeper’s Legacy

Old house

This article explores examples of how technical research and photographic documentation were used to help Kathleen write the award-winning third book in her Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery series.

The Library Box

Kathleen looking over a book on top of a library box

“What did the library box look like?” The question came up last week when I visited a book group to discuss the 3rd Chloe Ellefson mystery, The Light Keeper’s Legacy. A library box is featured prominently in the story, linking the historical timeline to the modern one.

Last Link In The Chain?

Man standing in front of a fish boil

Last week Scott and I vacationed on Washington Island, WI, off the tip of Door County in Lake Michigan. While having dinner at KK Fiske Restaurant, we heard something startling. The owner, Ken Koyen, is the only full-time fisherman left on the island. Three fish tugs are in the water this year, but the other men fish part-time.

A Retrospective


When publisher Midnight Ink picked up the first book in the Chloe Ellefson Mystery series, Old World Murder, I was given a two-book contract. After turning in the second book I wrote a proposal for two more, starting with a book set at Pottawatomie Lighthouse in Rock Island State Park, Wisconsin.

Cast Iron and Memories

Kathleen putting a pot of water on an old stove top

Pottawatomi Lighthouse, the oldest light station in Wisconsin, sits on top of a bluff on Rock Island, in lake Michigan. Rock Island is now a state park, and it provides the setting for my latest Chloe Ellefson mystery, The Light Keeper’s Legacy.

Joining The Club

bottles of spice on a bar

People who live on Washington Island, off the northern tip of Door County, WI, have been known to tell newcomers that they won’t be true islanders until they stop at Nelsen’s Hall for a shot of bitters. I’d somehow missed the iconic tradition during my visits. But when I decided to place a scene at Nelsen’s in the third Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery, The Lightkeeper’s Legacy, I had to remedy that omission.

Where to buy the book

You can order The Light Keeper's Legacy as a trade paperback from independent book stores 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 / 01:43
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