Curator Chloe Ellefson is happily planning to spotlight home-front challenges and German immigrants at Old World Wisconsin's first Civil War reenactment, but her overbearing boss scorns her ideas and proposes staging a mock battle instead. And when a reenactor is found dead at one of the historic site's German farms, Chloe's boyfriend, cop Roelke McKenna, suspects murder.
The more Roelke learns about reenacting, the more he fears that a killer will join the ranks. Then Chloe discovers a disturbing secret about Roelke's Civil War–era ancestors. Together they struggle to solve crimes past and present...before Chloe loses her job and another reenactor loses his life.
"Veteran Ernst provides a new perspective on the Civil War woven together with a compelling mystery." —Kirkus Reviews
"Extremely well-written."—Suspense Magazine
"Kathleen Ernst knows how to spin a tale, weave an intricate plot, and hide clues in the embroidery. A Memory of Muskets takes two stories separated by more than a century and knits them together into one thoroughly satisfying read."—Kathy Lynn Emerson, Agatha Award-winning author of How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries, Murder in the Merchant's Hall, and other historical mysteries
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Seventh book in series!
Memory of Muskets by Kathleen Ernst is the seventh book in the Chloe Ellefson Mystery series. It is 1983 in Woodbury, Minnesota. Chloe Ellefson is the curator of collections at Old World Wisconsin. She is working with Byron Cooke, curator of interpretation, on a Civil War Reenactment. It will be the first Civil War event for Old World Wisconsin. They want to show what life was like during that era (for soldiers and civilians). Their boss, Ralph Petty has other ideas (he wants a mock battle to draw in the crowds). Byron and Chloe are showing Gunter Diederich, a Civil War reenactor, around the Schulz farm (one of the farms at Old World Wisconsin) when Alyssa, an interpreter, comes running over to them. Alyssa has found a person on the ground behind the barn. They hurry over to find a man dressed in a Civil War uniform dead. Roelke McKenna quickly arrives on the scene (he is also Chloe’s boyfriend). The man has no identification and everything on him is from the Civil War era (real and reproductions). He does have a handkerchief with the initial M embroidered on it. Who is this man? Was his death accidental? Chloe is packing up her belonging and getting ready to move into Roelke’s new farmhouse. It originally belonged to his ancestors. There is a small cabin on the property that Roelke would like to be Chloe’s special space. Unfortunately, Chloe cannot stand the cabin. Chloe can feels something dark in the cabin. She starts looking into Roelke’s ancestry to find out what could have caused the bad vibes. Roelke is working at German Fest (police presence) in Milwaukee. Roelke and another officer are patrolling near a mock battle. At the end of the demonstration, one shot is not in sync with everyone else’s. Then a soldier goes down. Another reenactor has been killed. Who is behind these killings? Are they all related? Will Chloe be able to rid the cabin of the evil presence? Join Chloe and Roelke in Memory of Muskets.
Memory of Muskets takes us back in time to tell us the story of Roelke’s ancestors. We get to see how they came to America, how his ancestors were involved in the Civil War, and what happened in the cabin. The story goes back and forth from 1983 to 1860s. I was looking forward to reading Memory of Muskets. I have enjoyed the previous books in the series, but this one was hard for me to get through. The same information is repeated throughout the book. The evil feelings in the cabin, Petty and his attitude (behavior), the handkerchief with the letter “M” on it, Chloe’s feelings about Roelke, how she is not sure about moving in with Roelke, how Chloe needs this job, how Petty dislikes Chloe (that was mentioned at least half a dozen times), etc. (this is just a sample). We are given significant detail about Civil War reenactors, their uniforms, attention to detail, etc. That part is interesting, but it does bog down the story. Sometimes it reads more like a history book than a cozy mystery. The mystery was compelling. It was complicated and not easy to solve (that was the best part). I give Memory of Muskets 3 out of 5 stars. The story was just not easy to read. The writing, research, and mystery are very good. The novel just needs editing to make it easier to read and enjoy. Thank you to Midnight Ink and NetGalley for a copy of this book.