My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Former museum curator Kathleen Ernst has created a series protagonist with the same job in the same institution. Old World Murder opens with Chloe Elefson’s first day on the job at Old World Wisconsin, a village style ethnic museum. Chloe is struggling to reestablish her career after a traumatic relationship breakup that left her in the grips of clinical depression, and she’s determined to make this work. Much to her dismay, she gets off to a very shaky start, when an appointment with a former artifact donor ends in tragedy, the elderly visitor the victim of a car crash. Chloe becomes obsessed with locating the Norwegian ale bowl that this woman seemed so desperate to recover; she also suspects that her death was no accident.
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.