Book Review: A Memory of Muskets by Kathleen Ernst

A Memory of Muskets
A Chloe Ellefson Mystery
Kathleen Ernst
Midnight Ink, October 2016
Trade Paperback

I’m having a hard time thinking of this novel as a mystery. For one thing, the death that occurs early in the book may, or may not, be anything but an accident. And when murder does finally appear, no one can find a motive. This is my way of saying the mystery seems a bit weak.

What’s strong is the core of the novel and, for the most part, that has to do with Chloe’s chosen profession. She is a curator at Old World Wisconsin’s living history museum, where the docents carry out chores, dress, and inform visitors of the German immigrants who, in the 1860s came to America. Sadly enough, in those times, many of them were soon conscripted into the Union Army and lost their lives.

Chloe is planning a special weekend to spotlight the Civil War’s effect on the home front when her boss, a disagreeable ass with political aspirations, throws out these plans and insists on a mock battle between two sets of re-enactors. A big, explosive mock battle. Trouble in the making, you may be sure. Who hasn’t contended with a crappy boss, just probably not as bad as Chloe’s?

Interspersed between Chloe and her fiancé’s, Roelke McKenna, chapters, we travel with Roelke’s ancestors to America. His great-something grandmother, Rosina, and the story of poor German immigrants is integral to the novel.

Along with everything else, Chloe and Roelke are trying to move in together on his grandparents old farm, which Roelke has recently bought. Look out. It’s apt to be a money pit. And that is aside from Chloe’s problem with the original farm cabin, where she senses a sadness so terrible she can’t even enter. Uh-oh.

This book is sure to encourage a reader to learn more about the immigrant experience.  The author has included some photos of the actual artifacts mentioned in the book. Also a list of websites where readers can learn more. I suggest you start with

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, February 2017.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder and Four Furlongs.