Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Rituals of the Dead by Jennifer S. Alderson ~ Voices and a Giveaway!


Rituals of the Dead

Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery by Jennifer S. Alderson
Series: Adventures of Zelda Richardson #3
Paperback, 280 pages
Expected publication: April 6th 2018 by Traveling Life Press

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 journals are 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. 

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). 

Purchase Rituals of the Dead

Down and Out in Kathmandu: A Backpacker Mystery (Adventures of Zelda Richardson, #1)The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery (Adventures of Zelda Richardson, #2)Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery (Adventures of Zelda Richardson, #3)


Welcome to The Book Bag today, Jennifer. Thank you for answering my 'Voices' question. I always love how authors answer this one. And thanks also for offering a copy of your book for the giveaway.  

I have heard other authors say that they 'hear voices in their head' and that is how they write their books: the characters are telling their stories. Not being a writer myself, that concept has always intrigued me. When some people hear voices, we get them medical attention, others end up becoming writers. Does this happen to you? How do you come up with your stories?

How funny! I have been asked this question before, yet didn’t dare give an honest answer for fear of being committed.

When I am brainstorming ideas for stories, I start with a single question. That question also determines the location and types of characters involved.

My latest novel, Rituals of the Dead, came about because I wanted to write a mystery about an Asmat bis pole. Considering the Asmat live on the island of Papua New Guinea, and I had just worked on an exhibition of bis poles for a museum in Amsterdam, my locations were easily chosen. 

The Lover’s Portrait came to be because I was curious about Nazi-looted artwork and wondered what would happen if two people claimed the same painting. In 2004, I moved to the Netherlands from Seattle, Washington to study art history. During university lectures, much time was spent on restitution cases and the complexities involved when looted-art was being claimed.

The plot of Down and Out in Kathmandu originated from the question, what would happen if a hapless volunteer got unwittingly entangled in a smuggling operation? Having heard many horror stories about smugglers while volunteering as an English teacher in Kathmandu, Nepal seemed a logical choice.

The settings of my novel are also extremely important to me, probably because I am an avid traveler. It is a joy to write about countries I have visited and re-live my own experiences. It also helps keep my insatiable wanderlust in check! While reading my books, I want readers to gain insight into a place or culture they don’t know much about, or revisit a country they’ve traveled to and recognize it.

Admittedly, Papua New Guinea – the setting for my latest release, Rituals of the Dead – is a country I long to visit but haven’t yet. Using this island as one of the two main settings meant I spent months reading travelogues, journals, and watching films recorded in the 1960s to get a better feel for the land and its people. I am confident those who read my novel will recognize the place, people and way of life.

The real-life characters I have met during my travels have also inspired several fictitious ones. I’ve got one of those faces which make people (foolishly) open up quickly and share their darkest secrets. Drug dealers, gold smugglers, psychotic backpackers and other nefarious types have regaled me with their adventurous (and often criminal) tales while I’ve been on the road. Little did either of us know I would one day use their stories or personalities in my fiction! 

It does happen that a character I’ve created will complain about a word choice or protest an action as ‘out of character’. Which frankly, always feels strange because it really does seem as if someone is talking to you – from inside your head. 

Honestly, I am thankful they come alive and chat with me and each other! It helps make for a more believable story and dialogue. I swear there are moments when I only have to pull out a pen and write down the conversation going on in my head. And no, you don’t have to get the straitjacket ready. It’s all in a day’s work. 😉

Love it! Thanks again. And everyone, be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway! Jennifer is giving a paperback copy of Rituals of the Dead to one lucky person. And it's international folks! 

About the author

Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. Her love of travel, art, and culture inspires her ongoing mystery series, the Adventures of Zelda Richardson. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels.

In Down and Out in Kathmandu, Zelda gets entangled with a gang of smugglers whose Thai leader believes she’s stolen his diamonds. The Lover’s Portrait is a suspenseful “whodunit?” about Nazi-looted artwork that transports readers to wartime and present-day Amsterdam. Art, religion, and anthropology collide in Rituals of the Dead, a thrilling artifact mystery set in Papua New Guinea and the Netherlands.

Connect with Jennifer 


Be sure to check the sidebar for all of my current giveaways!


  1. Thank you, Susan! I adore your voices question and am honored to be featured on your fabulous blog! I appreciate you hosting a giveaway as well.

    1. Loved having you! I wish you all the best with this book.

  2. Thank you for the chance to win one of your books

  3. This is so awesome. I love love love it. Thanks for the opportunity

  4. i like the title and then the cover is one you would look for the book


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