Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery out on April 6, 2018

I am thrilled to announce my third mystery will be released on April 6, 2018! Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery has been a joy to write. It combines my love for anthropology, history, artifacts and Amsterdam into one novel. 🙂  Beta readers are also excited about it, one wrote back: ‘Excellent story, interesting twists. I really love The Lover’s Portrait but Rituals of the Dead is a step up.’

Be sure and read The Lover’s Portrait and Down and Out in Kathmandu soon, so you will be caught up on Zelda’s adventures and ready for a third dose of literary adrenaline!

Pre-order Rituals of the Dead now on AmazoniBooks, Kobo, Google PlayBarnes and Noble NOOK or Smashwords.

Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery thriller Amsterdam Papua New Guinea suspense travel fiction

Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery

Book Three in the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series

Art, religion, and anthropology collide in Alderson’s latest art mystery thriller, Rituals of the Dead, book three of the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series.

Art history student Zelda Richardson is working at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam on an exhibition of bis poles from the Asmat region of Papua – the same area where a famous American anthropologist disappeared in 1962. When his journal is found inside one of the bis poles, Zelda is tasked with finding out more about the man’s last days and his connection to these ritual objects.

Zelda is pulled into a world of shady anthropologists, headhunters, missionaries, art collectors, and smugglers – where the only certainty is that sins of the past are never fully erased.

Join Zelda as she grapples with the anthropologist’s mysterious disappearance fifty years earlier, and a present-day murderer who will do anything to prevent her from discovering the truth.

Expected release date April 6, 2018.

All three mysteries in the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series are stand-alone novels, yet are even more enjoyable when read in order:

Down and Out in Kathmandu: A Backpacker Mystery (Book One)

The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery (Book Two)

Related keywords: art theft, art crime, historical fiction, historical mystery, art history, art mystery, artifact theft, artifacts, museums, anthropology, ethnography, cultural heritage, exhibition, mystery, thriller, missionaries, archival research, suspense, crime fiction, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Leiden, Rotterdam, Papua New Guinea.



Here is a VERY ROUGH excerpt from my latest novel. It’s not yet back from the proofreaders, but will give you an idea of what is to come… happy reading!

Chapter One

August 27, 1962

“Dip, scoop, pour. Dip, scoop, pour. Dip, scoop, pour.” Nick’s dried lips cracked open as he repeated his mantra, certain the canoe was almost sea worthy again. Just a few more inches, then she’ll float, as the survival guide explained. He pushed his knee down on the t-shirt and bits of plank filling the gash in the bottom, willing it to diminish the stream of sea water pouring in faster than he could scoop it out.

The sun was slowly disappearing below the horizon; soon only its ghostly reflection would be visible. The new moon was barely a sliver; in an hour’s time he would be plunged into darkness. By then he should be able to paddle back, he reckoned.

Nick squinted to orient himself, thankful he could still see an emerald belt of palm trees and jungle rising slightly in the distance. There was a vast expanse of blue-green ocean between him and the shore. A strong wind tried to push him sea bound. Only the weight of the water and few crates of barter goods still filling its hull kept it in sight of land. Nick sighed; he was in for a long paddle back once his boat was seaworthy again.

He stopped scooping to reposition the jeans tied to his head, arranging the legs so they covered most of his sunburned back. His thoughts turned to the eight rowers who had jumped overboard hours ago. Had they already made it to shore? Nick wondered for the hundredth time if he should he have abandoned ship and swum back with them. Though his faith in his survival guide was unwavering, the water was rushing in so fast. The holes were too large to plug.

Nick gazed again towards the shoreline. He was a strong swimmer; he could still make it to land if he had to. Yet he wouldn’t leave his boat unless there were no other options. His survival guide made clear you should never abandon ship until all of your attempts to save it have failed. It was the captain’s code. Okay, the real captain had jumped overboard hours ago, but still. It was his collection trip that went amiss and his supplies which now bobbed in the waves close to his crippled watercraft.

He shook his head in disgust, certain the locals had given up too quickly. They all sprung into the water and began swimming as soon as the first leak was discovered. If only they hadn’t moved that bag of beads, then the water wouldn’t have filled the hull so quickly. Nick bashed his coffee tin onto the bottom of the canoe as he scooped. His irritation turned to rage as Albert Schenk entered his mind. That Dutchman should be here helping him, Nick thought. His hangover couldn’t have come at a worse moment.

A few feet away, a gurgling noise made him jump. The second canoe finally took on more water than it could handle. He’d cut it and the makeshift platform connecting them together as a catamaran loose, as soon as the holes were found. Nick’s face paled as he watched its stern slowly rise until it was perpendicular to the water’s surface. The platform hung off of it like a starched flag. Nick watched in fascination as it stood stock still, seemingly frozen in space and time before suddenly disappearing into the sea. Several large air bubbles rose and broke on the surface, the only sign the boat ever existed.

Nick gazed down into the dark water and redoubled his efforts.

Inexplicably, a can of tobacco soon rose from where the canoe had gone under and bobbed next to him. Its airtight container would make a useful floatation device, he thought, resolving to keep it in sight. Almost all of his supplies had gone under as soon as he cut the second canoe loose. The rest he had thrown into the sea, in the hopes of making his boat light enough that the two holes in the stern would rise above the water’s surface. Not that he had to worry about wasting supplies. He had plenty more stored in Agats. Losing these trading goods was a minor delay, not a setback.

Nick laughed, splitting his lip further. Blood dripped down his chin as his thin bray drifted across the waves. Just as capsizing and sinking was a minor irritation, he thought, giggling again despite the pain.

Cracks of lighting tore across the broad sky. Thunder rumbled seconds later. The storm was closing in fast, Nick realized. He hadn’t taken into consideration the rain storms that frequently whipped across the jungle. If the rain started soon, he’d never be able to get the boat floating enough to paddle back. Especially with only one oar to help; the rest had floated away in the ensuing panic when his rowers discovered the gashes in both boats’ sterns.

As a second streak lit up the sky, Nick cleared his mind and focused on nothing but his coffee can. Dip, scoop, pour. Dip, scoop, pour. He had to survive, he was a Mayfield. It was his destiny to do great things; not die on the open ocean. Dip, scoop, pour. Dip, scoop, pour. And as every Mayfield knew, he had his destiny in his own hands.


Thanks for reading! 

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!