A museum researcher must solve a decades-old mystery before she becomes the killer’s next victim in this riveting dual timeline thriller set in Papua and the Netherlands.
Agats, Dutch New Guinea (Papua), 1961: While collecting Asmat artifacts for a New York museum, American anthropologist Nick Mayfield stumbles upon a smuggling ring organized by high-ranking members of the Dutch colonial government and the Catholic Church. Before he can alert the authorities, he vanishes in a mangrove swamp, never to be seen again.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 2018: While preparing for an exhibition of Asmat artifacts in a Dutch ethnographic museum, researcher Zelda Richardson finds Nick Mayfield’s journal in a long-forgotten crate. Before Zelda can finish reading the journal, her housemate is brutally murdered and ‘Give back what is not yours’ is scrawled on their living room wall.
Someone wants ancient history to stay that way—and believes murder is the surest way to keep the past buried. Can she solve a sixty-year-old mystery before decades of deceit, greed, and retribution cost Zelda her life?
- Awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion by indieBRAG's readers in December 2018
- One of Amy's Bookshelf Reviews' Top 20 Books of 2018
- Winner of a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award, June 2018
- A Women Writers, Women’s Books magazine’s Recommended Reads for March 2018
- New Apple’s 2018 Summer Book Awards, Official Selection Mystery/Thriller category
- BookLife Prize for Fiction 2018, Mystery/Thriller category, rating 8.50
Art, religion, and history collide in this edge-of-your-seat museum thriller, Book Two of the Zelda Richardson Mystery Series. The novels in this series can be read in any order.
About the Author
Table of Contents
How to Survive on Land and Sea
Human Remains project
Asmat bis poles
We don’t do sensationalism
Diary of a missing anthropologist
Returning to Dutch New Guinea
New job prospects
An unexpected discovery
The Anti-Colonial Brigade
Tropenmuseum in upheaval
An acquisition trip to Ow
Zelda seeks guidance
Mission Museum Steyl
Paving the way
Breaking with the past
Asmat rituals and ethnic art dealers
A missing collection
Restitution of our ancestors
Exceptions to the rule
Fishing in Kopi
A fifty-year-old dispute
Did you spill the beans?
Can’t this wait?
Break-in at the Tropenmuseum
Nick Mayfield’s journal
Give back what is not yours
A letter to Pepijn
Quality above quantity
Surveying the jungle
The physical anthropologist’s hut
MS Bali III
Pepijn calls the police
A welcome opportunity
At your service
A DNA match
Sins of the past
Sculptures from the Rainforest
Reading Group Questions
About the Author
The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery
The Lover's Portrait: Chapter One
Marked for Revenge: An Art Heist Thriller
Marked for Revenge: Chapter One
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
We are proud to announce that RITUALS OF THE DEAD by Jennifer S. Alderson is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells readers that this book is well worth their time and money!
If you’re looking for a mystery jam-packed with art and history, look no further. History comes alive as Alderson interweaves the past (the disappearance of an archeologist in 1962) with art student Zelda Richardson’s present assignment (a museum exhibition of bis poles). Being a lover of history, I enjoyed learning about past and present Dutch history while trying to solve two mysteries. Zelda is a fun and inquisitive sleuth! I look forward to going on more adventures with her.
Magnificent First, I'm a big fan of Alderson's, and I've read her other books, The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery, Down and Out in Kathmandu: Adventures in Backpacking, and Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand. I was impressed by the first book and continued to love her work. When I heard about this one, Rituals of the Dead, I was already excited to read it. Now, with all that said, I need to dive right into this story. Even when I like or love an author's work, I never have any preconceived notions about whether or not I will like the book or not. From chapter one, I was drawn in, very curious about Nick and wondering where he or his life would fall in to the life of Zelda. Alderson is a grand writer, and I like her writing style. Her research and knowledge are shown within the story, and her characters. I like Zelda, and always have, and this book brings more depth to her character, and sets her on a new mystery. I love that she's human, and has to prevent herself from getting sick in the most presence of the most gruesome scenes of death and decay. Look forward to more. Simply magnificent, filled with intrigue and suspense, and a lot of wonder!