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Old World Murder (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery) Paperback – October 8, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Ernst, the author of Clues in the Shadows and other YA American Girl novels, shows her ease in mining historical periods in her adult debut, set in Wisconsin in 1982. On Chloe Ellefson's first day as the new curator of collections at Old World Wisconsin, an outdoor museum that recreates the 1870s, elderly Berget Lundquist asks Chloe for the return of a family heirloom, a hand-painted Norwegian ale bowl that Berget donated to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in 1962. Within minutes of Chloe promising to locate the bowl, Berget dies after driving her car off the road into a tree. The fatal bludgeoning of Berget's aged neighbor, Bill Solberg, by a person hunting for the elusive bowl leads Chloe to suspect the item has some special value. While details of the Old World museum can overwhelm at times, clever plot twists and credible characters make this a far from humdrum cozy.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Chloe Ellefson, coming off a bout of clinical depression, has just started her new job as curator of collections at Old World Wisconsin, an outdoor historical museum, when Berget Lundquist asks her to return a hand-painted Norwegian ale bowl she donated more than 20 years ago. Chloe brushes Lundquist off, promising to locate the bowl, but when the woman dies in an auto accident, Chloe feels she must keep her word. However, the bowl seems to be missing, so Chloe delves into the museum’s acquisition documents, the state historical society’s records, and Mrs. Lundquist’s motivation for the return of the bowl, all of which lands her in the middle of a potentially deadly situation. Information on how to conduct historical research, background on Norwegian culture, and details about running an outdoor museum frame the engaging story of a woman devastated by a failed romantic relationship whose sleuthing helps her heal. --Sue O'Brien
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The setting is unique and these were historical/genealogical situations that I had never thought about in my Celtic/American upbringing. I learned so much about Norwegian lifestyles and habits living in the Midwestern states of America. This was all woven around a mystery of a lost artifact, then a murder, suicide, crime and a strong reminder that people carry unpleasant traits along with rich and valuable traits in all cultures.
There are even mysteries built in the main character herself.
This is a strong, well-written novel with likable and complex characters.
Chloe is one of the neediest characters I've encountered in a long time. She takes very poor care of herself, badly needs psychological counseling, could use a good friend, and comes across as a whiner. The author has delineated her quite thoroughly, flaws and all. Other characters, with the exception of Roelke, the cop who is drawn into Chloe's situation, are far less developed. The plot of Old World is interesting and fairly complex, but consists mostly of scare tactics aimed at Chloe. The resolution of the mystery comes as a surprise, however, and the cliffhanger on the final page provides a neat teaser for the next book in the series. Old World falls firmly into the cozy genre, with hints of romance thrown into the mix.
From there on, conscience stricken, Chloe continues to hunt for the missing bowl--a search that will have far-reaching ramifications, not only for her but for others, incluidng a local police officer who becomes more and more caught up in the pursuit of the elusive object.
Old World Murder is a nicely wrought mystery, intertwined with an exploration of Norwegian customs from the old days in the Midwest, along with a budding romance that adds to the suspense. The central character is nicely portrayed as a complex individual who has freshly emerged from a heartbreaking love affair. The mystery of the missing bowl is solved as a result of a joint effort by Chloe and the sympathetic policemank while the ending is an intriguing surprise which will make the reader look forward to the sequel in the Chloe Ellefson series.