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The Light Keeper's Legacy (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery) Paperback – October 8, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Historian Chloe Ellefson is looking forward to being a guest curator at a lighthouse on Lake Michigan’s remote Rock Island. The temporary job allows her a break from her micromanaging boss at Old World Wisconsin and the opportunity to ponder if she is emotionally ready for a romantic relationship with cop Roelke McKenna. Chloe soon becomes immersed in the lives of long-ago lighthouse keeper Emily Betts and island resident Ragna Anderson, whose husband died under suspicious circumstances. Chloe’s story, set in 1982, alternates with Emily and Ragna’s, set in 1869. When Chloe discovers the bodies of two women, both of whom have washed up on the lakeshore, she attempts to investigate their murders, finding that her research ties in with contemporary events. Framed by the history of lighthouses and their keepers and the story of fishery disputes through time, the multiple plots move easily across the intertwined past and present. --Sue OBrien


Winner of the LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery

"Kathleen Ernst wraps history with mystery in a fresh and compelling read." --Jane Kirkpatrick, New York Times bestselling author

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Product Details

  • Series: A Chloe Ellefson Mystery (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Midnight Ink (October 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738733075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738733074
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst is the award-winning writer of adult mysteries, historical fiction, and non-fiction history books for adults and young readers. Her latest are "A Settler's Year: Pioneer Life Through The Seasons" published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, and "Death on the Prairie," the sixth Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery for adults published by Midnight Ink Books.

Over the years Kathleen's work has earned numerous honors, including an Emmy, a LOVEY, and Edgar and Agatha mystery award nominations. To date, readers have purchased 1.6 million printed, electronic, and audio copies of her thirty-three published books.

Kathleen has a Masters Degree in History Education and Writing from Antioch University, where her self-designed program focused on nontraditional methods of teaching and learning history, with a special emphasis on historical fiction. She spent over a decade as a Curator of Interpretation and Collections at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin's Old World Wisconsin outdoor museum, a job that provided great material for her novels.

She lives near Madison, Wisconsin with her husband Scott (AKA "Mr. Ernst") and Sophie the cat. Some of her greatest pleasures include gardening, learning folk crafts, traveling to research new books, and hearing from readers. To that end, she maintains an extensive website,, an author's page on Facebook,, and a blog,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
First Line: "This trip of yours is a very bad idea," Roelke said soberly.

It's 1982, and against her boyfriend Roelke McKenna's better judgment, Chloe Ellefson loads her Pinto (including the copy of A Is for Alibi that Roelke gave her) and heads for Rock Island State Park off the coast of Wisconsin in Lake Michigan. Her expertise as a collections curator is needed by the folks who want to bring Pottawatomie Lighthouse back to life for all its visitors.

It's good that she's needed elsewhere because Chloe is stressed out, both at work with a boss who drives her crazy, and at home with a boyfriend who wants a commitment that she's not sure she's ready to give.

When the ferry lands at Rock Island and Chloe makes the trek to the lighthouse, she finds it in the midst of being restored-- ladders and paint buckets lying around, no water, and no electricity. She doesn't mind at all, and dives into the history of the place. But when she finds a young woman's body washed up on the beach, everything starts to change. At first thinking that the girl's death is an accidental drowning, Chloe keeps digging into the lighthouse's history, finding two tough, independent women that fire her imagination. Then another body is found. Has local tension over tighter fishing regulations reached flash point? If Chloe's not careful, she could find herself trapped on the island with a killer.

I've been interested in the history of the Great Lakes ever since I heard Gordon Lightfoot sing "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" back in 1976. I've loved lighthouses even longer than that, so when I learned that the action of this book would take place at a Great Lakes lighthouse, I knew I had to read it. I'm glad I did.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lori Caswell VINE VOICE on October 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Museum curator Chloe Ellefson leaps at the opportunity to be a consultant for the historical lighthouse restoration project on Rock Island. She needs a little time to herself and the tranquility of the Door County state park seems perfect. She will be able to sort through her personal and professionals problems while she attacks the assignment given to her by RISC, the Rock Island Support Circle.

The idyllic place loses its luster though when a dead woman washes ashore below the lighthouse. Now in addition to researching the time periods and the caretakers of the lighthouse she will try to find the answers to the many questions about the dead woman as well. The women in history that lived on Rock Island were strong and resilient but all had their own set of problems and strife. Could the woman Chloe found have a link to the women of the past? Chloe has a feeling she does. She just needs to follow the clues and uncover the mystery.

I have quickly learned one thing about the mysteries written by Kathleen Ernst. Once you start reading them you just can't stop. So I have learned to plan accordingly. The afternoon spent reading this story was pure joy.

Kathleen has a way of mixing historic times and places with bold characters to create wonderful mysteries. They are smart, well crafted and captivating. The new characters we meet on Rock Island are full, rich and defined. Ernst takes us from 1982 back to the 1860s seamlessly. We get to know the history of the island and the lighthouse and the changes and effects of the fishing regulations. The people who were there on the island then and how they got there and why some left when others stayed. How the past effects the present and the future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By sam on October 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Just finished this mystery. Could not put it down. I enjoy a mystery that offers the reader suspense and indepth knowledge about subject background, you are there! Our heroine is delightfull, resourceful, and action keeps you in suspense to the very end. I will be reading more books by this author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bibliophile without Borders on January 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read all of Kathleen Ernst's stories on the intrepid and spunky Chloe Ellefson and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. Ms Ernst writes very well, keeps the reader interested from first page to last, and in this story has woven the lives of those who have gone before with the actions of those in the present. Setting this book in the northern Peninsula and highlighting the plight of national parks was a great choice; she does not preach but she also gets her point across about preserving our history and the few remaining natural sites left to us. She also knows Wisconsinites very well indeed and has picked up on a lot of the traits of the Scandinavian descendants of the first settlers in Wisconsin -- being one myself, I recognize and smile over her character studies.

All in all, a very satisfying read and one that any reader who enjoys mysteries would like to curl up with in front of a nice fire on a snowy afternoon. Looking forward to the next book in the series!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J & L Rigod on September 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Book Three in this excellent series 'A Chloe Ellefson Mystery' finds out historian and museum curator, Chloe Ellefson working as a consultant for the 'historic lighthouse restoration project on Rock Island, Wisconsin.'

The restoration of the lighthouse has finally reached the point where they need Chloe's expertise in furnishing and telling of the lives of the historic edifice. Although, Chloe hasn't yet put a decade to focus upon, she finds herself drawn to a photograph of a former wife and assistant light keeper, Emily Betts.

As Chloe steeps herself in feeling how it must have been for Emily, she wanders down to the beach and finds a body! Shockingly, the victim is garbed in a controversial fish net called gill-net. As Chloe worries about the death, she finds that history and modern days seem to be overlapping. There is much written and found about the light keepers and the owners of the Viking Hall and Boat House, but little is known about the fishing village made up of immigrants from the Scandinavian countries.

As a side story, we have Chloe herself. Chloe was eager to take this respite from her normal job to give herself some space to think about her life and personal relationships. Chloe also realizes that she has an almost sixth sense...that of being able to immerse herself in the past of the area she is working in. Hearing children's laughter leads her into further studies of the lighthouse but is that what she is supposed to do?

This series draws me as it is based upon true historic sites. Ms. Ernst blends reality with fiction in a smooth seamless style that compels me to continue reading. Almost like weaving a gill-net. To imagine living with burning lard in your home day in and day out...
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