Heritage of DarknessSince I’m officially on vacation, my days should be pretty darn good. Unfortunately, things aren’t quite proceeding as planned.

Everything started because I truly want to improve my relationship with my mother. Mom’s great passion is rosemaling, also called rose painting. It’s a traditional Norwegian folk art. When I saw that Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa, was offering Beginning and Advanced week-long workshops in early December, I suggested that we both sign up. A little mother-daughter bonding would be good for us, right?

Roelke McKenna, whom I have been dating, looked at the course catalog and decided to take the woodcarving class being offered the same week. I was pleased by that…until the three of us got in the car for the drive from Wisconsin to Decorah. Mom regaled Roelke with tales of traditional courtship and marriage customs. Hint, hint. I was ready to jump out the window.

Then, when we arrived at the reception being held for instructors and students, Mom’s instructor was a no-show. We all learned why when I discovered her in an antique immigrant trunk. Someone had attacked her, right there in the museum, and left her there to die.

The next morning, I found out that my instructor was moving up to teach the advanced class, and Mom has been assigned to teach mine. I knew that arrangement would never work; that my perfectionist mother would be all over my case.

I also found out that I’d been “volunteered” to help with a folklore project by interviewing local resident about Norwegian-American Christmas traditions. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking to senior citizens. And I am a museum curator, so folklore is right up my alley. But some of the cozy holiday traditions we all enjoy have some pretty dark origins. Not the most pleasant topics to discuss on a cold, dark night…with a murderer still on the loose in Decorah.

So a typical day for me this week? Let’s see…fall farther behind in my rosemaling class, feel the tension grow between me and Mom, delve into what the old-timers refer to as “the power of darkness,” try to squeeze in a few minutes here and there with Roelke, dig into troubling family secrets, and—oh yes, help catch a killer.

A killer who might just be coming for Mom and me.


You can read more about Chloe Ellefson in Old World Murder, The Heirloom Murders, The Light Keeper’s Legacy, or Heritage of Darkness, published by Midnight Ink.


Leave a comment for a chance to win any one of Kathleen’s Chloe Ellefson mysteries—winner’s choice! Contest ends October 20, 2013.


Meet the Author
Heritage of Darkness is Kathleen Ernst’s twenty-seventh published book, and over a million copies of her titles have been sold. In addition to the Chloe Ellefson series, she has written many books for American Girl, including seven books about the newest historical character, Caroline Abbott. Several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards. The Heirloom Murders won the Ann Powers Fiction Book Award by the Council For Wisconsin Writers, and The Light Keeper’s Legacy won the Lovey Award for Best Traditional Mystery at Love Is Murder. For more information, visit Kathleen at her website, her blog, or on Facebook.

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