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MTW: Art-related Mysteries and Thrillers Theme

Welcome to the second of four themed posts about MysteryThrillerWeek, an annual event celebrating the Mystery and Thriller genres!

Over two-hundred authors are participating in this global event. To help readers and authors better connect, a variety of themed lists – sub-categories of both genres – have been created.

Today I’m thrilled to share with you nine books from the Art-related Mysteries and Thrillers Theme, also known as the Artwork, Relics, Gems and Precious Minerals Theme.

Though this category initially contained books whose stories revolve around a painting or sculpture, it’s grown to include mysteries and thrillers in which a relic, piece of art, precious gem or other priceless object plays a central role.

Several authors have provided a description of their stories, adventurous tales revolving around treasures looted from Saddam’s palaces, missing gold coins, a Triceratops brow, a fifteenth-century relic, forged paintings, an international art heist, a collection of Dutch masterpieces, and a sack full of diamonds.

My thanks to Phil Philips, cj petterson, Paul Russell Parker III, Rosa Fedele, Catherine Dilts, Tomasz Chrusciel, Khristina Atkinson, and Ritter Ames for providing information about their books. I’ve also included information about my own art-related novels. Click on the book cover to link to Amazon where you can read an excerpt and learn more about the author.

These are but a few of the 20+ books currently listed in the Art-related Mysteries and Thrillers category.

Be sure to sign up as a Super Fan on the MysteryThrillerWeek website to be kept up-to-date of all the fun games, prizes and giveaways taking place during the event, February 12 – 22, 2017.

I look forward to seeing you there!

But first, let’s take a closer look at some of the brilliant books in this category…


Mona Lisa’s Secret by Phil Philips

Joey is the great-grandson of Vincenzo Peruggia, the man who stole the original Mona Lisa in 1911. Along with his girlfriend, Marie, an art connoisseur, he stumbles across his father’s secret room, and finds himself staring at what he thinks is a replica of da Vinci’s most famous masterpiece.


The Louvre has kept this secret for over one hundred years, waiting for the original to come to light, and now they want it back at any cost.

With Marie held hostage and the Louvre curator and his men hot on his trail, Joey is left to run for his life in an unfamiliar city, with the priceless Mona Lisa his only bargaining chip. While formulating a plan to get Marie back with the help from an unexpected quarter, Joey discovers hidden secrets within the painting, secrets which, if made public, could change the world forever.


The Posse: Bad Day at Round Rock by cj petterson

Bad Day at Round Rock is a short story set in the real West Texas cow town of Round Rock, Texas, in 1878. It is one of six stories included in ‘THE POSSE’ a Western anthology of human interest short stories scheduled to launch on February 15, 2017.

The idea for this story came from author cj petterson’s family legend about her great-grandfather who immigrated from Sweden to Georgetown, Texas, in 1877. The story goes that great-grandpa was in town on the day that Texas Rangers shot down the outlaw Sam Bass in the streets of Round Rock.

There are four protagonist sketches in Bad Day at Round Rock, all are linked to a hidden cache of $30,000 in uncirculated twenty-dollar gold coins that Sam Bass stole from the Union Pacific railroad.

Prospector Talley Munroe dreams of finding his fortune, only to have the gold, his horse, and his life taken from him. Indentured Lilly Malmstrom dreams of finding a man who excites her while spurning Anders Olsson, until he’s accused of murder. When she commits to saving his life, she discovers it is Anders who makes her heart race. Anders Olsson dreams of clearing his name, but escapes his jail cell to exact justice for Lilly who has been beaten and threatened by a couple of waddies who want her to tell them where Anders has hidden the gold they think he has.A mysterious rider gifts widow Jessemae Hartley with stolen horses and stolen money to tend to the grave of Sam Bass.

Everything about Sam Bass in the story is as true as newspaper reports and lore have made it. The myth about Sam Bass’s buried gold lives on. In 2015, a group organized a “scavenger hunt” to look for the gold they believed is buried somewhere around Denton, Texas.


All In: The Globe Trot Shuffle by Paul Russell Parker III

The story is about four US Marines who make an amazing discovery in a mansion during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.  This discovery will force them to cross a line that there’s no turning back from.  The line between good guys and bad guys are now blurred.  The group soon finds that making their dreams come true isn’t as easy as flying home and making a deposit.  They need to safeguard their discovery during a shooting war, and keep it hidden from locals as well as their fellow Marines.  They decide to stash it for the lack of a better idea.

Years later, the group of Marines are now civilians working in Iraq on a contract to the military.  They must find their way past Iraqi Police checkpoints as well as insurgents to secure their discovery.  After that, they must get home to make good on it.  The only way to do that while carrying something highly illegal is to travel as low key as possible.  They embark on a dangerous journey with Bedouins, on a shipping container ship, and on private boats to see their plan to the very end.

All In: The Globe Trot Shuffle, takes place all over the world.  It’s set in several countries, and even on the high seas. The first half of the story takes place all over Iraq, from Diwaniyah to Tikrit.  You see the characters in the military or as civilian contractor’s years later.  They’re on FOB’s or sleeping in holes.   Then it moves to Kuwait.  You get to see a border crossing station, and a swanky 5-star hotel.  The characters then move onto a container ship that’s traveling from Kuwait to South America.  You get to see how life on a ship transiting pirate infested waters around the Horn of Africa, is.  The characters make landfall in Guyana, and explore hotels and bars.  From the port in South America, they travel the Caribbean on a private yacht to Roseau and Portsmouth, Dominica.

Don’t forget to check back here on January 16th when Paul will share more about the looting of Saddam’s palaces he witnessed while on a tour of duty in Iraq.


The Red Door by Rosa Fedele

My inspiration for this story began when I was strolling through one of the oldest suburbs in Sydney, admiring the timeworn mansions, and I happened upon one house in particular. But it was more than a house; the magnificent old building riveted and mesmerised me and in the following weeks I was drawn back to the site. The mansion is fronted by a brightly painted door, a glossy facade, and I imagined what the door might mask and what it could have concealed over the last 150 years: nasty, shameful secrets, possibly a poor family’s misfortune and tragedy, rotten crimes and heaven knows what other unholy messes.

As the tale unfolds, you’ll find paintings and drawings I’ve created to illustrate exactly how our main protagonist appears in my mind, to show what the chair in Beadles’ shop window looks like or the iconic Balmain Garage, before developers tore it down.

It is 1983 and the grand old Victorian mansion ‘Rosalind’, nestled in the inner city village of Glebe, Sydney, has been refurbished and converted by the new owner into four apartments, and a coach house in which she lives. Between her obligations as landlady to her odd assortment of tenants, and employment as fashion illustrator for the exclusive magazine Marie Claire, she yearns for a peaceful existence, intent on burying memories from her devastating past.

However, her peace of mind slowly erodes as she begins to believe that the mysterious tenant in Number Three, a reclusive man who happens to share his surname with two teenage sisters, victims of a sinister and brutal double murder, is watching her. Her unwelcome enquiries yield far more questions than answers: What is Mr Ahsan hiding in Number Three? Who was the young man sighted with the beautiful Zahra underneath the Tanglewood Trees? What hold does the vile Monique have over her dear friend Annie and why does this objectionable woman’s name keep cropping up in her investigation?

And do the residents of Cambridge Terrace even realise they are being watched?


Stone Cold Blooded by Catherine Dilts

Life hasn’t gone the way Morgan Iverson expected. A widow too young, her children have flown the nest, leaving her feeling irrelevant and alone. When her brother asks her to manage the family rock shop for two weeks, she believes the temporary change of scene will do her good.

On day one, she learns her brother is not returning. On day two, while chasing the shop’s escape-artist donkeys, she finds a body on a trail. The killer thinks she witnessed the murder. If Morgan doesn’t solve the crime, she’ll become as extinct as the fossils lining the rock shop’s dusty shelves.

Distracted by life or death adventure in the Colorado mountains, Morgan makes new friends and begins healing. She starts walking charity 5Ks, is adopted by the local church ladies, and takes a chance on middle-aged romance.

Solving a murder, mostly by accident, gives Morgan a reputation. In book two, she is recruited to solve a fifteen-year-old cold case for a recovering alcoholic who needs closure in her daughter’s disappearance. While investigating, Morgan discovers a rare gemstone that sparks a dangerous treasure hunt.

In book three of the Rock Shop Mystery series, Morgan’s reclusive neighbor is blown to bits. The police believe he stumbled into his own trap, but his granddaughter claims he was murdered. She asks Morgan and newspaperman Kurt Willard to find his killer.

Morgan’s budding romance with Kurt is threatened by the unexpected appearance of his Hollywood ex-wife. She worries that pregnant donkey Adelaide will never drop her foal. When alien hunters invade the rock shop, Morgan is happy to escape to a mineral and fossil show in Denver. Until her hopes for success there turn to disaster.

A feud between Morgan’s uncle and her dead neighbor could provide clues to his demise, but memories of the events decades ago don’t add up. In book three of the Rock Shop Mystery series, a Triceratops brow horn may hold the key to solving a prospector’s Stone Cold Blooded death.

Don’t forget to check back here on February 1st to read Catherine’s fascinating article entitled ‘The Tale of the Dinosaur Tail’.


Fast Track to Glory by Tomasz Chrusciel

Nina Monte has worked hard to achieve her dreams. At thirty-six she’s one of Italy’s youngest professors, and renowned for her knowledge of the ancient world. Old religious texts might make for lonely companions at night, but that’s nothing a bottle of fine wine can’t fix.

When a mysterious summons presents a career-making opportunity, Nina can’t resist. A relic has been found in a 15th Century galley and it’s the kind of discovery encountered once in a lifetime. But floating atop the depths of Lake Garda at the recovery site, Nina senses something is amiss. With local hotelier, Alessandro Pini at her side, she begins to unravel the truth surrounding the relic. She soon realizes that questions of the past pale in comparison to the dangers looming in the present.

The mystical object in Nina’s hands is no trinket; it has the power to change humanity’s perception of existence. And many believe a gift like that is worthy dying—or killing—for.

Don’t forget to check back here on February 21st to read my review of Fast Track to Glory.


Hopelessly, Completely, MADLY in Love by Khristina Atkinson

Jesse Dalton is a young and green deputy when Lexi Weston rushes into the Sheriff’s Office one afternoon and announces her husband has been shot.  Sheriff Vaughn isn’t around, so he eagerly questions the couple.  His goal in life is to be the sheriff one day.  He learns that two men aren’t very happy about Luke Weston marrying Lexi and questions both suspects.  He has a hard time keeping his eyes off of the auburn haired beauty with emerald eyes and understands their attraction to her.

Lexi runs away from Silas Reilly and Cooper Grayson when she can’t choose between the two men to visit her grandmother, Maggie Weston in Louisville.  Her step-grandson, Luke, is Lexi’s constant companion while she’s staying at their home.  They frequent the Ohio River to watch the steamboats.  After a tornado hits Louisville, the new stadium is quickly repaired and the two of them are able to take in an opening season baseball game for the Grays.  The second Kentucky Derby is exciting for them to watch.

Jesse comes back into Lexi’s life in an official capacity as the sheriff when Lexi wakes up and finds a painting of herself hanging on her bedroom wall.  She’d posed for an artist, Jasper Marx, in Charleston, South Carolina after she was determined to see the Atlantic Ocean.  He spots her frolicking in the waves and must have her model for his next masterpiece. After her portrait was finished, she lost a chunk of time after drinking a cup of tea he prepared for her. She fears Jasper took advantage of her.  He claims he’s only in town to visit with his old and dear friend.


Abstract Aliases by Ritter Ames

Fighting for art, and the right for it to always be available to the public, is part of Laurel Beacham’s DNA. Her grandfather was a brilliant businessman who channeled funds into the foundation bearing his name—whose sole purpose revolved around doing whatever was necessary to increase art awareness and accessibility. But when her father inherited the family fortune and blew it all on gambling and gold-diggers, Laurel realized her cunning and courage are her most important resources when rescuing works of art. While the police are out to catch their man, her focus stays firmly on the masterpiece. Saving art is always her objective.

Abstract Aliases opens with the two main characters blindsided when someone they’ve been trying to locate for months finds them at London’s New Year’s fireworks spectacular. As the bad guy disappears once again, Laurel and Jack find danger at every turn. From London to Rome to Cologne, their passports are stamped trouble. Odds aren’t in their favor when they hit the casino in Baden-Baden, but long odds have never stopped Laurel before, and when a longtime enemy turns into an unexpected ally, she learns no one is truly the person they seem. As the clock ticks down, the bodies add up, and to stop the heist of the century Laurel has to make sure her next passport stamp isn’t the morgue.


Marked Masters by Ritter Ames

Laurel Beacham never forgets her grandfather’s code that art belongs to everyone and should be available to all. But as an art recovery expert, she realizes keeping art in the public realm often requires resources and a skillset far beyond the art history degree she gained in college. She may have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but her father yanked it away when he squandered the family fortune, and she’s learned to use wits, wiles and wild maneuvers the same way her grandfather used his wealth. Having the trust of thieves and grifters—and the information they possess—can often be as important as knowing the best negotiation method when trying to get an art connoisseur to part with a masterpiece that should be in a museum. Saving art is always her objective.

Marked Masters takes Laurel and the reader on a nonstop thrill ride across two continents, several countries and to settings that include art-deco-rich Miami, Florida and the breathtaking renaissance works in Florence, Italy. She’s must work—grudgingly—with a partner this time, but eluding him is almost as important to her as staying ahead of the thieves. And the noises of the heist that began in the first book in the series get louder with every step they take. They discover forgers can set up shop in the most unlikely places, and they find art used to fund and hide items motivated to incite rather than inspire. She also finds amazing art that disappeared without a trace can reappear like magic—yet risks another vanishing act if she doesn’t move quickly.


The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery by Jennifer S. Alderson

A small portrait of a young woman entitled Irises is at the center of the art mystery, The Lover’s Portrait. Who owns this painting once stolen by the Nazis, which lay unclaimed in a Dutch depot for the last seventy years? The granddaughter of the art dealer who had it in his possession at the time of his death? Or the family of the young woman portrayed in the painting? The portrait’s mysteriously incomplete provenance allowed me to explore questions around the provenance of looted art, the ways Nazis legitimatized their confiscation of others’ cultural treasures, the shifting policies regarding the restitution of artwork after the war, and the intrinsic worth of artwork.

The storyline is inspired by my experiences gained while studying art history in the Netherlands and working for several Dutch museums. Restitution of art was a topic already very familiar to me, one I’d learned much about during art history and museum studies lectures at the University of Amsterdam. However the details surrounding important events in Dutch history, and the attitudes held in Europe during that period, were not. Extensive research into the plight of Jewish artists in Europe during World War II, as well as the pressure Hitler’s troops exerted on art dealers and gallery owners whose stock they ‘admired’ and tactics used to acquire it, was crucial to writing this book – and quite interesting!

Synopsis: Set in the Netherlands, The Lover’s Portrait is the contemporary story of American art history student Zelda Richardson, who finds clues to the whereabouts of a collection of masterpieces hidden somewhere in Amsterdam, secreted away in 1942 by a homosexual art dealer who’d rather die than turn his collection over to his Nazi blackmailer. Her discoveries make her a target of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the lost 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.


Down and Out in Kathmandu: Adventures in Backpacking by Jennifer S. Alderson

Down and Out in Kathmandu: Adventures in Backpacking follows the adventures of Zelda Richardson, a computer programmer teetering on the edge of burnout who quits her job to try and ‘find herself’. Volunteering as an English teacher in Nepal proves more difficult than she’d expected it to be, especially when a gang of Thai smugglers suspect she’s stolen their diamonds. Can Zelda find a way to get the smugglers off her back and her Nepalese students to respect her, before her time in Kathmandu is over?

Loosely based on my travels through Southeast Asia, Down and Out in Kathmandu offers a peek into the backpacker culture of Nepal and Thailand, and insight into what life can be like for a Westerner volunteering in a developing country. I hope you enjoy traveling through Nepal and Thailand with Zelda!

If you enjoyed this post, consider signing up to receive the latest posts from my blog by entering your email address into the form on the right-hand sidebar. From now until February 22, this site will be inundated with MysteryThrillerWeek guest posts, articles, features, interviews, giveaways and much more. I look forward to seeing you there!

Jennifer S. Alderson

Hello! I am the author of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery series, the Zelda Richardson Art Mystery series, and Adventures in Backpacking novels. I love to write and blog about travel, art, museums, expat life, and great books. Thanks for stopping by!

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Carole Price

    Oh my, so many interesting books to add to my TBR list. Can’t wait to get started.

    1. Jennifer S. Alderson

      So glad to hear! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Carole Price, and happy reading!

  2. Catherine Dilts

    Thanks for including me in your blog, Jennifer. Your art related mystery sounds fascinating. Now I have more books to add to my TBR list!

    1. Jennifer S. Alderson

      Hi Catherine, thank you for participating! Your Rock Shop Mystery series sound pretty fascinating, as well. I look forward to sharing your article about dinosaur fossils on February 7!

  3. Karen Y Wood

    My book that takes place in Amsterdam is called “The Stolen Masterpiece: A Nancy Keene Mystery.”

    1. Jennifer S. Alderson

      Hi Karen, your book sounds like a fantastic story for young adults! I love how you weave art, travel and culture into your mystery.

  4. Carol Smith

    Thanks for all the books and authors regarding Art-in-mysteries.
    I have read the books by Ritter Ames. Looking forward to reading
    the other authors.

    1. Jennifer S. Alderson

      Hi Carol Smith, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for letting me know. Ritter Ames’ novels are high up on my TBR pile, as are several others on this list. I do love to get lost in stories involving art, travel and a good mystery. Happy reading!

  5. Karen Y Wood

    Your book sounds good. I wrote about stolen art in Amsterdam also, but I’m sure yours in more realistic because of your work experience.

    1. Jennifer S. Alderson

      Thank you, Karen Y Wood, that’s lovely to hear! I did draw heavily on my own experiences as a collection researcher for different Dutch museums when creating the plot and characters in The Lover’s Portrait. Those jobs were fascinating on so many levels, and ended up being the perfect inspiration for an art mystery!

      I see you’ve included your website, I’ll take a look at your book as well. I always love reading stories set in Amsterdam. Thanks for stopping by!

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