Mining for Justice
Chloe Ellefson Mystery, Book #8
By Kathleen Ernst
Author’s website: www.kathleenernst.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Chloe Ellefson is excited to be learning about Wisconsin’s Cornish immigrants and mining history while on temporary assignment at Pendarvis, a historic site in charming Mineral Point. But when her boyfriend, police officer Roelke McKenna, discovers long-buried human remains in the root cellar of an old Cornish cottage, Chloe reluctantly agrees to mine the historical record for answers.
She soon finds herself in the center of a heated and deadly controversy that threatens to close Pendarvis. While struggling to help the historic site, Chloe must unearth dark secrets, past and present . . . before a killer comes to bury her.
What a fascinating glimpse of history! One of the things I like about Ms. Ernst’s novels is that I learn something new every time. She became one of my favorite historical cozy mystery authors from the first time I read one of her novels. In Mining for Justice, her writing talent and ability to share her love of history excels.
Past and present come together for Chloe Ellefson, loaned to Pendarvis, a sister site of where she works at Old World Wisconsin. When boyfriend Roelke McKenna, police officer for the Village of Eagle, drives her to Pendarvis, they spend time with Roelke’s friend Adam who has recently purchased Chy Rooan, a historical home that he is restoring. The guys find a skeleton in the cellar, a skeleton with its skull bashed in.
When a friend of Adam’s stops by, Chloe is blindsided to learn that Pendarvis may have to be closed due to much of the funding required to get Old World Wisconsin up and running sucked the available moneys for this smaller, less visited site.
Chloe will stay with Adam’s grandmother, Tamsin. Tamsin is very troubled by the turn of events in Adam’s home, as it has been in her family since the Great Depression. Only recently has she left it for a smaller apartment. She asks for Chloe’s help to find who was murdered if she has any time to help.
When arriving at Pendarvis Monday morning, one of the interpreters who has been with Pendarvis since it first opened is openly hostile to Chloe, as if the funding challenges were her fault. A young woman with a PhD, Yvonne Miller, is a historian writing a book and using reference materials there. Chloe attends the meeting regarding the disposition of Pendarvis. Not only does Yvonne speak poorly of the work that the interpreters have done, but she doesn’t sound too unhappy about the potential for closure. Nobody wanted the young doctor to be murdered, though – which is exactly how Chloe finds her at one of the houses at Pendarvis a couple mornings later.
Roelke also faces challenges while Chloe is away. His cousin Libby, a divorced woman with two young children, is having trouble with her ex-husband, who is now stalking her. There is a home suspected of housing drug dealers, and he is given the lead on taking them down. While dealing with Libby’s ex, he begins to question his desire to be in law enforcement, even as Chloe encounters challenges that make her question where her loyalties lie.
One of the things I like in this novel is how the author integrates the historical background of the family who had lived in Chy Looan (Happy House). She introduces Mary Pascoe when she was a girl in Cornwall, then as she and her brothers cross the ocean and come to work the lead mines in Wisconsin, and events throughout their lives and the contributions Mary made, particularly in that home.
Interesting, realistic dialog and actions show the reader the strength and depth of each character. I particularly like Mary Pascoe, Tamsin, and Chloe. Learning about the Cornish immigrants and lifestyle demonstrate just how hard of a life our ancestors had while at the same time showing their fierce determination and contribution to America as we know it today.
The novel’s setting is in the 1980’s, when computers and cellphones were dreams for the future. It is very well researched, for the 1800’s as well as the 1980’s. The plot twists continued to change the suspects, especially as Chloe meets up with multiple ‘mishaps’. Mary Pascoe’s life continued to change, as did the meaning of an elegant china teacup throughout her history. The love Roelke and Chloe have for each other is strong, especially when both of their lives are on the line in different ways. I highly recommend this suspenseful, fascinating novel to those who appreciate well-written historical cozy mysteries. The photos of historical artifacts are an awesome addition!
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*