Jennifer S Alderson Marked for Revenge an art heist thriller amateur sleuth art crime art theft

Marked for Revenge: Settings of my Art Heist Thriller

My latest novel, Marked for Revenge, is an art heist thriller about the theft of forty paintings from modern art museums spread across the Netherlands. It is also the third novel in this series featuring art history student and reluctant amateur sleuth, Zelda Richardson.

In this book, one of the museum’s Zelda Richardson is working for is robbed at the beginning of the novel and soon our heroine finds herself entangled with the robbers, mob, and police. To save herself and those she loves most, Zelda teams up with Vincent de Graaf, a private investigator specializing in the recovery of stolen artwork. Together they follow a trail of clues across Europe to a final showdown in Turkey that may cost them their lives. You will have to read the novel to find out if they both survive!

As you will soon see, my own travel adventures influenced my setting choices. Luckily my adventures’ locations coincided nicely with places that are well suited for the settings of the major plot twists in this novel!


Vianden Castle is built on top of a rocky outcrop above the tiny town of Vianden. To reach it, visitors follow this single lane street running along the side of the ridge.
Vianden Castle is built on top of a rocky outcrop above the tiny town of Vianden. To reach it, visitors follow a single lane street running along the side of the ridge.


Driving up to the castle through the tiny village of Vianden. The road was barely enough for two cars, let alone all the tourists walking up. (Strangely none in this picture, but they were there!)


The story begins with a robbery at Vianden Castle in Luxembourg. I visited this imposing monument a year ago and knew immediately it had to feature in one of my novels. Its location is spectacular and the building itself fits any description of a fairy tale castle.

Vianden Castle also has ancestral ties to the current Dutch monarchy – the House of Orange-Nassau. These kinds of connections to Dutch culture and history often appear in the novels in the Zelda Richardson Mystery Series. This has everything to do with my decision to stay in the Netherlands, instead of returning to America after studying art history at the University of Amsterdam.


View from a window in the castle.


In Marked for Revenge, an exhibition of watercolors owned by the Dutch royal family are stolen from Vianden Castle by audacious thieves in a brazen robbery that garners international headlines. The exhibition and robbery are figments of my imagination.

The castle’s location high up on a ridge, built over the Or valley, inspired my thieves’ getaway.


Marmaris, Turkey. It's an Important setting in Marked for Revenge.
Marmaris, Turkey. It’s an Important setting in Marked for Revenge.


Marmaris, Turkey is an important location in this novel. One of the main characters, Kadir Tekin, lives here and an important meeting takes place in this beach side resort at the end of my novel.

Turkey is an intergral part of the Balkan Route, a route used to transport drugs into Europe. It’s also an incredibly fascinating and beautiful land, one my family and I enjoy visiting!


Marmaris is is a popular stop for European and Turkish owners of yachts.
Marmaris is is a popular stop for European and Turkish owners of yachts.


Last summer my family and I spent a wonderful two weeks exploring the Marmaris region and neighboring Dalyan. Marmaris is not only a popular vacation spot for Europeans, it is also popular among wealthy Turks and the many bars, clubs, and restaurants all cater to these jetsetters. The town’s position in a valley surrounded by mountains and blue-green water is stunning, the food is wonderful, and the locals are extremely friendly.


Nestel Marina in Marmaris, Turkey. Unfortunately for Zelda, it is well guarded.
Nestel Marina in Marmaris, Turkey. Unfortunately for Zelda, it is well guarded.


However, it was the boats that made me use it as a location in this novel. I have never in my life seen so many boats, yachts, schooners, trawlers, you name, as I have in Marmaris. The entire city is one enormous, gorgeous marina, with piers placed feet apart.


Karel Appel, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
Karel Appel, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.


In Marked for Revenge, Zelda Richardson is working at the Amstel Modern, a fictitious art museum in Amstelveen, one known for its collection of Dutch modernists. In my novel, the exhibition Conversations with American Modernists is about to start. Zelda is researching works by several American Abstract Expressionists artists that are going to be displayed in Amstelveen. The exhibition features several important works by CoBrA artists – the most famous of which is arguably Karel Appel.

Too soon, her joy is replaced with sorrow as the Amstel Modern is one of seventeen museums robbed by a brazen gang of art thieves. Unfortunately for Zelda, she also falls under suspicion…


CoBrA Museum in Amstelveen.
CoBrA Museum in Amstelveen.


[Author’s note: Amstel Modern does NOT exist, though the Dutch art collection described in my fictitious exhibition is reminiscent of the collection held by the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen. If you enjoy modern art, the Cobra Museum is well worth a visit!]


Het Sieraad building in Amsterdam
Het Sieraad, a monumental building in Amsterdam and Zelda’s current home.


Het Sieraad, a monumental building in Amsterdam, is Zelda’s new home. She’s subletting an apartment from an artist for a year. This imposing structure was originally constructed as a trade school. It has been recently renovated and converted into offices, a day care, restaurants, and apartments.


Clervaux Castle, Luxembourg.
Clervaux Castle, Luxembourg.

In order to clear her name, Zelda teams up with art detective Vincent de Graaf. He is also searching for the stolen art and believes Zelda has information he can use to find it. They travel to Clervaux, Luxembourg to follow up on a lead. While they are there, Zelda and Vincent visit the Battle of the Bulge War Museum and Family of Man photo exhibition.

A wonderful family trip to this region in 2015 inspired me to use Clervaux Castle as a setting.


Dalyan, Turkey
Dalyan, Turkey. You can see some of the Royal Tombs carved into the cliff faces.


Dalyan, Turkey also makes a brief appearance in this novel.

After visiting the region last year, I couldn’t resist using this incredibly beautiful town and river delta as one of the settings. It is known for its mineral mud baths, sea turtles, and royal tombs carved high up into the cliff faces.


Venice, Italy.
Venice, Italy.


Zelda and Vincent’s search also takes them to Venice, Italy. Zelda is in heaven, even though Vincent doesn’t leave her much time to see many of the spectacular sights. They do explore the Dorosoto neighborhood and have time for a quick visit to Peggy Guggenheim’s museum.


Marmaris Castle
Marmaris Castle.


The trail of clues eventually leads Zelda and Vincent to Marmaris, Turkey. Several locations are of importance to the final, captivating showdown – the Grand Bazaar, Marmaris Castle, Nestle Marina and Marmaris Bay.


Street in Marmaris, Turkey.
Street in Marmaris, Turkey.


Street in Marmaris, Turkey.
Street in Marmaris, Turkey.


Market in Turkey. Belly dancing costumes are quite popular.
Grand Bazaar (indoor market) in Turkey. Belly dancing costumes are quite popular.


You will have to read the book to find out how exactly they are important to the plot!

I hope you enjoyed learning more about my art heist thriller, Marked for Revenge.

You can purchase the eBook or paperback on Amazon now.

Coming soon to Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and other fine retailers.


Marked for Revenge: Book Three in the Zelda Richardson Mystery Series

A museum researcher’s new job leads her on a bizarre journey into shady art world doings and criminal intent in this fast-paced, amateur sleuth thriller set in the Netherlands, Italy, Croatia, and Turkey.


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 3 Comments

  1. Pamela Allegretto

    Such a wonderful post. Fabulous photos. I’m eager to read the book.

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