The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery

The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery

by Jennifer S. Alderson


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A portrait holds the key to recovering a cache of looted artwork, secreted away during World War II, in this captivating historical art thriller set in the 1940s and present-day Amsterdam.

When a Dutch art dealer hides the stock from his gallery – rather than turn it over to his Nazi blackmailer – he pays with his life, leaving a treasure trove of modern masterpieces buried somewhere in Amsterdam, presumably lost forever. That is, until American art history student Zelda Richardson sticks her nose in.

After studying for a year in the Netherlands, Zelda scores an internship at the prestigious Amsterdam Historical Museum, where she works on an exhibition of paintings and sculptures once stolen by the Nazis, lying unclaimed in Dutch museum depots almost seventy years later. When two women claim the same painting, the portrait of a young girl entitled Irises, Zelda is tasked with investigating the painting’s history and soon finds evidence that one of the two women must be lying about her past. Before she can figure out which one it is and why, Zelda learns about the Dutch art dealer’s concealed collection. And that Irises is the key to finding it all.

Her discoveries make her a target of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the missing 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789083001111
Publisher: Traveling Life Press
Publication date: 04/15/2019
Series: Zelda Richardson Mystery Series , #1
Pages: 310
Sales rank: 344,425
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.65(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

Dedication; Two more crates; Bedtime routine; Stolen objects; Deflated expectations; Think on your heart; Flying drones across Museumplein; Searching for stolen masterpieces; Girl with a vase; Irises; Proof of ownership; Covering their losses; Burden of proof; Haunting memories; Who can he trust?; An unexpected development; Faulty memories; Damn this war!; Plain lying; Different social circles; The missing link; A ray of hope; Convoluted lineage; Breaking the trust; CSI: Amsterdam; Change of plan; The parakeets of Vondelpark; Drone flyby; Occupied Amsterdam; Exhibition in the Van Gogh Museum; A cache of missing masterpieces; Invasion of privacy; I told you so; Taking stock; Lover’s deceit; Return to Urk; Burglary in Amsterdam; A safe place; Somewhere to stay; Hopes and fears during World War II; Friedrich makes a discovery; Preparing the space; Answered prayers; A friend’s trust; Family trees and chocolate croissants; An unexpected visitor; Breaking and entering; Ladies first; Impatience is a virtue; Justice served; The scene of the crime; The healing power of tea; Acknowledgements; About the Author; Marked for Revenge: An Art Heist Thriller

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The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
PGoetjen 6 months ago
Clearly passionate about art and art history, Jennifer S. Alderson takes the reader on a fast-paced trek to right the wrongs of the past while immersing the reader in a delightful tour of Amsterdam. Protagonist Zelda Richardson may be young and a bit naive, but her tenacity and moral compass make up for it. THE LOVER’S PORTRAIT is beautifully written and a fun read. I’m ready to pick up the next adventure by Ms. Alderson.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A vibrant, authentic depiction of Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation. Jennifer Alderson does a magnificent job of bringing the past to life as she weaves an intriguing mystery full of suspense.
Booktalk_with-Eileen More than 1 year ago
AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: The teaser on the front cover gave me some idea where the story was going—One painting. Two claimants. Three murders. Isn’t that intriguing? What I particularly liked about this book is how the author weaves an excellent mystery around a time period and subject I rarely read about. It is quite the eye-opener. The author is familiar with her material from personal experience, living in Amsterdam. She also has degrees in art history and museum studies. With her journalist background, passion for writing, along with the credentials, she created a believable and cunning plot. I appreciated her story crafting, providing pieces of the mystery while keeping me guessing all along; the way she keeps the mystery unfolding; and the way she moves the reader from the 1940’s to the present as the mystery and suspense coil ever-tighter. I learned so much about how artists were able to ‘hide’ their work from the greed of those who would take what doesn’t belong to them. I didn’t feel the author pushed ‘history’ down my throat, rather it came as a by-product of the story unfolding. Well written! This story captures how times have changed, just some 80 years ago, people were much less accepting and tolerant of different life styles. We still struggle with this, however. I enjoy Zelda’s not-letting-anything-slide attitude with a bit of humor thrown in. She is quite the Nancy Drew of Amsterdam. I also enjoy her exuberance for getting into the Master’s program. I’m hoping Frederick and she will have a future. He is a true friend. Perhaps in a sequel? The story was a bit of a slow starter and the initial voice portrayed by Carol Purdom fell flat for me, that is, the voice for the museum’s project manager. However, her voice for the old woman who claims the painting is hers, and the belligerent curator reliving his past disappointments, has her doing an admirable job adding energy to the telling. All-in all, I enjoyed the sleuth and well-written plot.
BarbTaub More than 1 year ago
In book two of this series, Alderson’s fictional doppelganger, Zelda, is counting on her internship at the Amsterdam Museum to ensure her admission to the prestigious graduate degree program in Museum Studies. But Zelda is disappointed to discover that she’s really only expected to work as a copyeditor, proofing english translations of the catalog copy. Museum curators and staff have been working for years to prepare for an exhibit of unclaimed art works recovered after Nazi occupation in World War II. Interleaved with Zelda’s contemporary research are chapters set in 1942. In them, the history of the missing artworks unfolds against a backdrop of war, blackmail, the holocaust, and homophobia. When Zelda offers to apply her web development skills to enhance the museum’s dreadful online site meant to showcase each work of art, her efforts are mocked and rebuffed by exhibition curator Huub Konijn. But before the new website can be taken down, they get their first hit. An elderly American, Rita Brouwer, whose family had fled Nazi-occupied Amsterdam when she was a child, came forward to claim Irises, one of the lesser-known works. The museum administrators are delighted, and quick to publicize their first success. All that turns to dismay when another claimant to Irises emerges. Curator Huub is sure the new claim is valid, but Zelda is convinced that the picture belongs with Rita and her elderly sisters. As Zelda and her young friend/admirer Friedrich dig deeper, the stakes go from lies and greed to murder. There were so many things to like about this book. The premise—Nazi-looted artworks hidden for decades—is both timely and terrific, and the settings were well-drawn and believable. Nazi atrocities against both Jews and homosexuals are well-documented. And we’ve all heard about families who’ve spent years trying to recover property looted by the Nazis, as well as the dramatic discovery of more than 1200 works in the apartment of reclusive German art dealer Cornelius Gurlitt. Plus, as a thriller, the novel’s pacing unfolds perfectly, slowly at first and then racing to its dark climax. For me, though, there were a few problems with the book. I can wish for tighter editing for the various typos and edit fails (including the instance where Huub calls someone “Renee”). I can wish that better research/editing could have caught things like the reference to a non-Jew as one of hundreds of guests at a bar mitzvah party, even though such an event would have been more likely to be a family-oriented dinner feast in the days preceding more recent American-style extravaganzas. Or that while there is a definite point made to one character wearing a wig, we never really find out why. Some things were probably just artistic license taken in order to make a point, such as the unlikely conversation between an art history graduate student and a museum curator where they discuss the meaning of “provenance”—something that should surely have come up on the first day of her first art history class. Or the way that the Nisqually earthquake was moved forward in time…and relocated from Olympia to Seattle. But my real disappointment with The Lover’s Portrait is with the main characters, especially Zelda. We know that she’s an intrepid woman who has traveled the world. Trying to avoid spoilers, I have to say that she comes across as immature and surprisingly gullible, especially in her romantic relationships. Despite what I would have seen as opportunities fo
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite The Lover’s Portrait by Jennifer S. Alderson is the second novel in The Adventures of Zelda Richardson series. Zelda just earned her way into an internship working at a museum exhibit showcasing stolen objects from WWII in hopes that the rightful families will claim them. It’s a dream come true. That is until Zelda finds out she’s meant to read and revise a website that has grammatical errors. Her luck changes when a woman named Rita shows up to claim a painting labeled Irises with a heartbreaking story of her father sending his family into hiding while he tried to find money, and hide his artwork from the Nazis. It seems like a set plan when another woman shows up, claiming to be the rightful descendant of the painting’s owner. Zelda has a natural habit of not quitting until she finds the truth, but will her curiosity lead her to a murderer? Jennifer S. Alderson delivers a mystery novel not quite like most. It has a headstrong sleuth type character in Zelda, but the story is character driven, not plot driven. The mystery of the painting is reminiscent of old mystery novels from before the 1950s, fitting since Alderson features flashbacks to the 1940s, probably some of my favorite scenes. She weaves the scenes with Arjan and Philip through the novel to answer questions as Zelda discovers the truth. Being able to see the fear Arjan went through allowed for a sentimental touch to the mystery. It’s not about stolen paintings, but about lives that were stolen. The flashbacks added depth to the plot that brought all the threads together to a wonderful conclusion. The Lover’s Portrait is a well-written mystery with engaging characters and a lot of heart. The perfect novel for those who love art and mysteries!
Vicki_Goodwin More than 1 year ago
When I read The Lover’s Portrait, I was entranced from the beginning, I didn’t just read it I savored it. It was a time period I love to read about and a subject that I find utterly fascinating. Art stolen from the Jewish owners during World War II has angered me so much, the unfairness of it all. The story comes alive when reading about the art owner and the homosexual art gallery owner. There are so many unusual facets to this story. Subjects that I had never read about unfolded allowing me to see another side of the war and the people that were punished in inhumane ways for being who they are. Each chapter held my interest and kept me wanting to know more. Zelda Richardson is a great main character. She has lived a different life in Seattle as a computer programmer before and is finding her passion in an unexpected place in an unexpected career in art. Zelda’s curious mind keeps this mystery unfolding chapter by chapter. The vivid descriptions of Amsterdam and the history of the art community really brought this story to life. The intrigue and personal history of the families brought in a personal element. Each mysterious clue opened so many doors, it kept me wondering what was going to happen next.
Amys_Bookshelf_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Intriguing. I loved how the author put her own experiences into the story. I didn't read the first book, but after reading this one, I will make my way to the first Zelda book. This historical references are great and bring a reality to the story. It's an intense and highly well written story about Zelda's investigation into a painting's history. Great story. Highly recommended and Alderson just found herself a new fan.