Monday, August 14, 2017

Death on the Prairie by Kathleen Ernst

Death on the Prairie is a perfect novel to take with you on a road trip to see the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites in South Dakota.

Chloe Ellefson is a curator at Old World Wisconsin.  A family friend asks for her help to determine where to donate a family heirloom – a quilt from Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Chloe decides to take the quilt on a road trip to the Laura Ingalls Wilder 
Symposium in de Smet, South Dakota that she has been invited to speak.  She invites along her sister Kari, who has always been the perfect sister Mary to her Laura.

As they begin their tour of the Laura Ingalls Wilder homesteads, they make new friends, but also notice a disturbing trend of unexpected violence at each stop.  What sinister plot is following the Laura Ingalls Wilder tour?  Is the quilt an actual Ingalls family relic?  What is troubling Chloe’s sister Kari?  What about her boyfriend Roelke?

I feel like this book was a love letter to all Laura Ingalls Wilder fans full of great tidbits. The story alternated between Chloe and Roelke’s viewpoint.  I liked how Roelke had a lot of deep thoughts about whether he should buy his old family farm or not and he also read Farmer Boy.  This blended in well with Chloe’s story.  I really want to learn more about this couple and their relationship, I need to read more of this series!

I enjoyed that the story was very much about sisterly bonds.  Chloe had always thought her adult sister was the way she thought was as a child. Chloe really finally got to know her sister as an adult.  Both sisters found out much more about each other; how they both envied each other and who they are as people.

I also liked the 1980’s setting for the book and the wonderful detailed website author Kathleen Ernst has for more information on all of her novels and this series of mysteries.  I definitely want to check out more books in this series!

Favorite Quote:

“In grad school I wrote a paper arguing that although Little House in the Big Woods is a novel, the historical processes Laura described – churning butter, butchering, maple sugaring – were authentic, and thus acceptable as partial documentation for historic sites’ programing.” – I had never thought about this before.  I thought it was very interesting.  I’ve always wanted to visit Old World Wisconsin and I want to even more now!

Overall Death on the Prairie is a great mystery with great characters and a great love of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Book Source:  Purchased at Peninsula Bookman in Fish Creek, Wisconsin.


  1. Laura, this sounds wonderful as well. You are reading so many interesting-sounding books this summer.

  2. If the writing is good, I think I could love this. Great premise--and they're taking the road tour I want to take, without the sinister stuff, of course!

  3. The writing is definitely good - I would recommend checking it out. I forgot to put in the writer's great website on this series link above, but its there now. I'm going to check out more in this series.