RITUALS OF THE DEAD
THE ADVENTURES OF ZELDA RICHARSON,
BY JENNIFER S. ALDERSON
Narrated by Carol Purdom
Published: Jun. 25, 2018
Length: 8 hours 23 minutes
Stolen artifacts, a missing anthropologist, and a pesky amateur sleuth.
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 journal is 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 50 years earlier and a present-day murderer who will do anything to prevent her from discovering the truth.
HALL WAYS REVIEW: Audio Book Review. Though Rituals of the Dead is the third book in the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series, it was the first for me and my introduction into Zelda’s world. The librarian in me connected with the art-historian in Zelda as we both appreciate finding and processing information from the past and present. This book easily stands alone, but the scattered references to some prior hair-raising adventures piques my curiosity about the other books.
The book starts out in 1962 as a man is bailing-out a sinking boat. From there, readers will jump to events of 2017, which sets the standard for two parallel stories unfolding. The story in the ‘60s is a slow building, high interest one while the current story moves at a faster pace. Readers can almost see how these lines become closer and closer to finally merge for an exciting culmination and big reveal as to whodunit and why.
“Zelda was elated she didn’t have to work with dead bodies this week.”
History lovers and lovers of diverse cultures will be treated to the historical details that author Jennifer Alderson has included in the book. Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of the true but macabre tribal rites and rituals found in faraway places? Admittedly, I am no expert, but it seems the author has done her research. Some sections get a little too history-book-heavy, but the historical information makes the reader think. Alderson subtly and not-so-subtly reminds readers about the western impact on native cultures and our tendency to corrupt what is sacred to others. Rituals of the Dead shows that even when the motive is good, unintended consequences are not. For example, when one of the characters tries to help the tribe by buying its artifacts, the result is that they increase their headhunting activity!
The premise of Rituals of the Dead is completely unique, and the story is fascinating. There are a few holes in the story line, and there are some things that happen that are just a bit too convenient, but it doesn’t push the reader’s ability to suspend disbelief. There is plenty of death and murder, but I never felt a real sense that Zelda was in real danger – she certainly didn’t seem to worry as she made some extraordinarily bad choices that put herself in precarious positions.
ABOUT THE NARRATION: Chelsea Stephens does a great job narrating Rituals of the Dead, and meets the challenges of voicing both male and female characters as well as some accents and difficult vocabulary. Many of the males sounded a bit haughty, which matched the attitudes of some but not all. Overall, she had an even and enjoyable delivery. I listened at 1.25x speed, which was perfect for me.
I look forward to reading the prior books in this series and any future installments Alderson may have in store, but I may switch to print for those. Though the audio narration was excellent, the downside for me is that when faced with factoids of dates, I need to see the words with my eyes to process some of the history.
Thank you to Audiobookworm Promotions and the author for providing me an audio download in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.
I received this audio book as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jennifer S. Alderson. The gifting of this audio book did not affect my opinion of it.
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. When not writing, Jennifer can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.
There are currently four books in the stand-alone series following the adventures of traveler and culture lover Zelda Richardson. 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 Dutch New Guinea (Papua) and the Netherlands. Her short story set in Panama and Costa Rica, Holiday Gone Wrong, will help fans better understand this unintentional amateur sleuth’s decision to study art history and give new readers a taste of her tantalizing misadventures.
The Lover's Portrait was Chill With A Book’s January 2018 Book of the Month and won the Silver Cup in Rosie's Book Review Team 2017 Awards, Mystery category. TripFiction recently named it one of their 10 Favorite Books set in Amsterdam. It also won a Chill With A Book Readers’ Award, Readers’ Favorite 5 star medal, was one of The Displaced Nation magazine’s Top 36 Expat Fiction Picks of 2016, and came in at 14 in BookLife’s 2016 Prize for Fiction in the Mystery category. The Lover's Portrait was also one of Women Writers, Women’s Books magazine's Recommended Reads for April 2017.
Her travelogue, "Notes of a Naive Traveler," is a must read for those interested in learning more about—or wishing to—travel to Nepal and Thailand. It was also awarded a Readers’ Favorite 5 star medal.
Carol Purdom is a retired System Analyst. She has many years of experience performing in community and dinner theater and currently writes for and directs her church Drama Ministry team. She received training in commercial and audio book recording from ADDY award-winning voice actor Leonard Dozier (SAG-AFTRA, AEA, ASCAP, Actor, Singer, Songwriter). She has recorded 8 audiobooks.
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