Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Curator, Cop

I often describe the protagonist of my Chloe Ellefson mysteries as a reluctant sleuth. Museum curator Chloe is much more interested in folklore and artifacts than in solving crimes. She gets pulled into investigations when her specialized knowledge is needed.

Otherwise she leaves police work to local cop Roelke McKenna. In the newest installment, Heritage of Darkness, Chloe and Roelke collaborate to solve a murder that takes place at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.

Chloe and Roelke are becoming more than friends. A romantic relationship has presented challenges, however. The two have very little in common.

So I was intrigued when Milwaukee radio host (and discerning reader) Mitch Teich asked me about the professional attributes Chloe and Roelke share.

Mitch is quite right. Every museum curator is a bit of a sleuth.

This wooden goat head reveals a lot about traditions that play a role in Heritage of Darkness.  (Image courtesy Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum)
Obviously the historical research needed to create programs at historic sites and museums involves investigation. Curators must be able to find and interpret clues in written records, oral tradition, artifacts, visual images, folklore, etc. in order to plan events and activities.

Old World Wisconsin's "The Spirit of Christmas Past" 
Chloe is a curator of collections. In a museum setting, artifacts are valued for what they can reveal about the people who made, owned, or used them.

Artifacts like this ale bowl always leave me wondering about the original owners. (Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum)
When an antique ale bowl disappears in the first book of the series, Old World Murder, Chloe's primary concern isn't the antique's monetary value.

In order to understand who might desperately want the bowl, she considers all the other reasons it might be important.  She must explore what's known about the piece in order to discover what has not yet been revealed.

So I guess Chloe and Roelke have more in common than it may initially appear.  That's good, because I have a lot more crimes in mind for these two investigators to solve.

For more information about the Chloe Ellefson mysteries, visit

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