Clever plot twists and credible characters make this story great fun. Ernst, the author of Clues in the Shadows and other Young Adult "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.