Tradition of Deceit
Chloe Ellefson Mystery #5
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 mill—currently used as an unofficial shelter by homeless people—into 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 other—and their very lives—at 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.
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
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 maps designed to enable you to virtually visit the key locations where the story takes place.
Related Blog Posts
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. The mystery is set in 1983, when such discussions and plans were underway. The visionaries were ultimately successful, and the Minnesota Historical Society opened the Mill City Museum in 2003.
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 history and the Mill City Museum. As soon as I heard the name, I knew Chloe would love it. When I heard it was probably the most popular recipe in the history of Pillsbury’s famous Bake-Off, I knew I wanted to include it in the book.
Often in the Chloe books, a very minor character ends up being among the most memorable. I discovered this when The Heirloom Murders (the 2nd Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery) was published. Many readers wrote to me about Johann and Frieda, even though the elderly couple were only briefly onstage.
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 wycinanki—the Polish form of paper cutting.
Readers have been wondering where they can try their hands at wycinanki, the art of Polish paper cutting featured in Tradition of Deceit. (Learn more about wycinanki here.) If you live in Wisconsin, try contacting the Polish Center of Wisconsin, the Polish Heritage Club of Madison, or other local Polish heritage groups. (Similar groups in other parts of the country can probably also provide information.) I’ve taken several workshops with Kasia Drake-Hames.
In previous Chloe books I’ve featured Norwegian, Swiss, and Danish culture. When I began conceptualizing Tradition of Deceit, the 5th Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery, I knew I wanted to celebrate a different ethnic group. The first time I toured the Mill City Museum, where some of the book is set, the guide told us that the earliest women employees were hired during World War I. The company began packing flour into small five-pound sacks, and managers believed that women were best suited for that job.
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 culture. The museum was created within what was once the Washburn-Crosby A Mill. You may not have heard of Washburn-Crosby, but chances are good you’ve heard of Gold Medal Flour.
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 one of the oldest in the country. It is listed on the Wisconsin register of historic places, and in 1992 was added to the National Register of Historic Places as the “Wisconsin State Prison Historic District.”
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 popular guy. Well, in Tradition of Deceit, Roelke gets his fair share of page time.
Pączki – Polish Doughnuts
In Poland—and Polish communities—Fat Thursday is observed on the Thursday before Lent. People traditionally celebrate by eating pączki (pronounced POHNCH-kee), fried rounds of sweet yeast dough often filled with jelly. The doughnuts are eaten in such quantities that the day is called Pączki Day.
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 by the end of the previous book, I figured it was time to throw a new challenge their way: distance.