Murder is the latest exhibit in a Norwegian folk-art museum.
Together with her boyfriend, police officer Roelke McKenna, and her mother, Marit, Old World Wisconsin curator Chloe Ellefson is visiting Decorah, Iowa. She and Marit are staying with an old friend while Marit renews old friendships and teaches a class in Rosemaling, the Norwegian art of decorative painting. Chloe signs up for the beginner class to try to forge a closer bond with her mother, who’s a gold medalist in Rosemaling. Roelke has tagged along to spend more time with Chloe. Their Christmas vacation plans go awry when Chloe discovers the nearly lifeless body of Petra Lekstrom in a hand-painted trunk in the Vesterheim Museum. When Petra dies, Roelke is roped into helping the local police by providing behind-the-scenes information when he’s not busy with his chip-carving class. The ever-curious Chloe, who has the ability to read vibes from inanimate objects, picks up some bad ones in the museum. Since Petra was a sly, competitive and manipulative person always trying to get an advantage over her fellow painters, it’s no surprise that she had more enemies than friends. Several of her original group of artists have had bad luck over the years, but a series of attacks on them now makes Chloe eager to dig into the past many of them shared at Luther College long ago.
Chloe’s fourth (The Light Keeper’s Legacy, 2012, etc.) provides a little mystery, a little romance and a little more information about Norwegian folk art and tales.