The Adventures of Zelda Richardson series
Travel alongside backpacker and culture-lover Zelda Richardson to Nepal, Thailand and the Netherlands in my adventure-inspired series of mystery thrillers: Down and Out in Kathmandu: adventures in backpacking (2015) and The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery (2016).
The Lover’s Portrait: Art Art Mystery
When a Dutch art dealer hides the stock from his gallery – rather than turn it over to his Nazi blackmailer – he pays with his life, leaving a treasure trove of modern masterpieces buried somewhere in Amsterdam, presumably lost forever. That is, until American art history student Zelda Richardson sticks her nose in.
After studying for a year in the Netherlands, Zelda scores an internship at the prestigious Amsterdam Historical Museum, where she works on an exhibition of paintings and sculptures once stolen by the Nazis, lying unclaimed in Dutch museum depots almost seventy years later. When two women claim the same painting, the portrait of a young girl entitled Irises, Zelda is tasked with investigating the painting’s history and soon finds evidence that one of the two women must be lying about her past. Before she can figure out which one it is and why, Zelda learns about the Dutch art dealer’s concealed collection. And that Irises is the key to finding it all.
Her discoveries make her a target of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the missing paintings. As the list of suspects grows, Zelda realizes she has to track down the lost collection and unmask a killer if she wants to survive.
“Firmly set in Amsterdam, this enjoyable mystery explores the darker world of misappropriated and stolen art works during World War II….A good insight, via fiction, into the dark world of stolen artefacts, well researched and written with a good pace…”
Down and Out in Kathmandu: adventures in backpacking
Overworked computer programmer Zelda Richardson is teetering on the edge of burnout.
Inspired by a girlfriend’s trip around the world, she sublets her apartment in Seattle, Washington, buys a backpack and flies to Kathmandu as a volunteer English teacher – determined to make a difference and find herself whilst doing it.
She can’t wait to immerse herself in Nepalese life – wear a Sari, eat with her right hand and wipe with her left – but becomes overwhelmed by its foreignness. Despite the power outages, lack of running water and difficulty in learning the language, she sticks it out, wanting to prove to her friends and family – but mainly to herself – that she can survive without the luxuries of home.
One distraction is the charming Ian, the sexy Australian backpacker whom she gets to know on arriving in Nepal. When her students laugh her out of the classroom and the headmaster publicly humiliates her, Zelda flees to the tourist district of Thamel to drown her sorrows with Ian.
What follows is every traveler’s nightmare as they find themselves entangled with an international gang of smugglers whose Thai leader believes Ian and Zelda have stolen their diamonds.
Can Zelda find a way to get the smugglers off their backs and her Nepalese students to respect her, before her time in Kathmandu is over?
“An excellent novel full of travel stories for the new or current backpacker. Anyone who has backpacked, thrown themselves naively into another culture, will be able to relate to this, and should read it.”
Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand
The ride back to Kathmandu was comfortable and relaxing. There were more overturned trucks (the gas-powered ones seem to tip the most, I’m surprised there weren’t more explosions), goats being herded across the highway by ancient women, children playing games in traffic, private cars and buses alike pulling over in the most inconvenient places for a picnic or public bath, and best of all the suicidal overtaking maneuvers (or what we would call ‘passing’) by our bus and others while going downhill at incredible speeds or around hairpin turns uphill with absolutely no power left to actually get around the other vehicle.
I was twenty-six years old, had a well-paid job, fantastic apartment and large circle of friends. I had everything, except I didn’t. I couldn’t shake the feeling I was missing out on the experience of living.
Part cultural and travel guide, part journey of self-discovery, this travelogue takes you on a backpacking adventure through Nepal and Thailand and provides a first-hand account of one volunteer’s experience teaching in a Nepali school and living with a devout Brahmin family.
This novella is first and foremost an adventure travel and cultural guide to Nepal and Thailand. Trek with me through the bamboo forests and terraced mountaintops of Eastern Nepal, take a wild river rafting ride in class IV waters, go on an elephant ride and encounter charging rhinoceros on jungle walks in Chitwan National Park, sea kayak the surreal waters of Krabi and snorkel in the Gulf of Thailand. Join me on some of the scariest bus rides you could imagine, explore beautiful and intriguing temples, experience religious rituals unknown to most Westerners, and visit mind-blowing places not mentioned in your typical travel guides.
This travelogue also provides insight into the experience of volunteering at a Nepali school and living with a traditional family during a long-term homestay, where religion and ritual still rule daily life.
A touch of self-discovery is inherent to this kind of journey, one spurred on by a young woman’s attempt to figure out what she wants to do with her life.
According to beta readers, Notes of a Naive Traveler is ‘a must-read for those interested in learning more about, or wishing to travel to Nepal and Thailand’. I hope it inspires you to see these amazing countries for yourself.
Front cover artwork: ‘Folly in Divinity’, acrylic on canvas by Don Farrell
Expected release date: May 15, 2017
“Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand is a heart filled journey through the eyes of a young nomad who had the courage to exchange Starbucks for Stupas. So pack your bags and enjoy your trip. Just be sure to bring hand sanitizer.”
My novels are also for sale at several Dutch bookstores and gift shops: Caffe il Momento, Boekhandel Vrolijk, Athenaeum Boekhandel, The American Book Center, Reisboekhandel Pied a Terre, and the De Amsterdamse Boekhandel.
KEYWORDS: art mystery, historical fiction, amateur sleuth, international crime, crime fiction, woman sleuth, art history, mystery, suspense, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, WWII, 20th Century, travel fiction, adventure, thriller, backpacker fiction, heist, smuggling, volunteer, Nepal, Thailand, detective, World War Two, Urk, travel mystery, travel thriller