Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery

Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery

by Jennifer S. Alderson


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789083001128
Publisher: Traveling Life Press
Publication date: 04/01/2019
Series: Zelda Richardson Mystery Series , #2
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.59(d)

About the Author

Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. Before settling in the Netherlands, she traveled extensively around Asia, Oceania, Australia, and Central America. Her love of travel, art, and culture inspires her award-winning Zelda Richardson Mystery Series. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.

Table of Contents


Author’s Note

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

Computer problems

The Anti-Colonial Brigade

Bad news

Tropenmuseum in upheaval

An acquisition trip to Ow

Zelda seeks guidance

Mission Museum Steyl

Asmat baptisms

Paving the way

Breaking with the past

Have faith

Reprimanding Zelda

Asmat rituals and ethnic art dealers

A missing collection

Restitution of our ancestors

Setting priorities

Exceptions to the rule

Fishing in Kopi

A fifty-year-old dispute

Did you spill the beans?

Considering blackmail

Can’t this wait?

Date night

Break-in at the Tropenmuseum

Nick Mayfield’s journal

Give back what is not yours

A letter to Pepijn

Quality above quantity

Lashing out

Surveying the jungle

Gallery Visser

Ancestor worship

Shady provenance

The physical anthropologist’s hut


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

Customer Reviews

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Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
indiebrag More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Amys_Bookshelf_Reviews More than 1 year ago
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!