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Publisher's Summary

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.  

All four mysteries in the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series are stand-alone novels, and they can be listened to in any order.

©2018 Jennifer S. Alderson (P)2018 Jennifer S. Alderson

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Interesting

I don't really know anything about anthropologist so I found this book really interesting. The author gives us an insight into their lives. I felt like the author knew what she is talking about. She either did her research really well or she is one herself.
I figured out who did it early on but this did not put me off.
There is no sexual content (happens behind closed doors) or profanity. It does have some violence but it is not graphic.

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Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery

You can make a lot of money selling stolen art and artifacts and Zelda Richardson should know since these strange mysteries seem to follow her everywhere! What will her next mystery be? Who will be after her next or what trouble will she find herself in? Alderson provides her readers with a fascination of the interworking of famed museums in Amsterdam through the eyes of an intern, but in this installment—the artifacts are the mystery.

Zelda has been asked to help with data entry at her newest intern position. Once she does this, then she is almost finished with the Master’s Program. What starts out as simple artifact research, turns into a fiasco. These artifacts have come from different areas like Dutch New Guinea, Borneo, Fiji, and Indonesia to the museum’s lab after a flood at the Academic Medical Center. They are all mixed in with each other in crates and some were left to rot. The research team will have a field day going through all of the artifacts and piecing everything together. In one of the crates opened, a journal, belonging to a famous anthropologist who disappeared in 1962, is found and Zelda is tasked with making photocopies, even though the curator expressly forbids it. Zelda feels that she has a duty to provide this man’s family with some answers, so the snooping begins. At what cost is she willing to go to get those desired answers, especially after murder. Feeling justified in her actions, Zelda knows that uncovering the disappearance of Nick Mayfield may be crucial to discovering an even bigger scheme—and someone wants to keep that information under wraps.

Alderson has an amazing third installment with superb character development. This mystery and adventure takes readers into the artifact world and the cutthroat politics involved in retrieving them. The pace is quick; however, the narration may not capture the audience the same way that the second installment did. This narration feels rehearsed, devoid of character differentiation which may not be as enjoyable to the reader if the vocalizations play a major factor in enjoyment of an audiobook. There is a change in narrator from the second book to the third book. Since this review is complimenting the audiobook, it appears that the story is well-written since the voice relay is clear and flows effortlessly. If you are a reader of mysteries and adventure, you may enjoy reading this story. This is the third installment in The Adventures of Zelda Richardson; however, it can be read as a standalone as far as the mystery goes, but some of the characters’ lives carryover from prior installments.

An audiobook was provided to Turning Another Page by Audiobookworm Promotions and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a four-star rating to Rituals of the Dead by Jennifer S Alderson.

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Historical details put readers IN the story

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 and lovers of diverse cultures will be treated to the historical details that author Jennifer Anderson 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. Anderson 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 storyline, 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 and 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 Anderson 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.

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Wonderful Mystery!

I have listen to other books by this author and have really enjoyed them, and this one did not disappoint. She does a wonderful job keeping the mystery alive and also the story unique. The narrator does a wonderful job as well which only adds to the overall fun of this book. I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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A Good read / listen

Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery Adventures of Zelda Richardson, Book 3, First I've read in the series and the first I've read by this author.
A good read/listen, entertaining and the chapters about Papau were very interesting and intrguing.
Narration is very clear & concise and easy to listen to.
I was given a free copy of this audiobook at my own request, and voluntarily leave this review.

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Rituals of the dead

Zelda is an intern at a museum in the Netherlands.She comes into danger when she finds a journal among boxes of bones and starts asking questions.Well written.Very interesting.I really enjoyed this book!Chelsea Stephens was a fine narrator.I was given this book by the narrator,author or publisher free for an honest review.

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If you like Archeology n mystery. listen to this.

I received this book free from Eblast, the author, and publisher. this is my unbiased opinion. I enjoyed the book. I really can't think of too many criticisms, maybe a bit slow. Definently worth your time.

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Interesting story!

I enjoyed listening to this book. At times, I found the story intense, fascinating and because of the greed and disregard for the indigenous people and their culture, sad. I've always had an interest in Anthropology and Archaeology so I easily got into this story and would recommend it to anyone who likes this kind of thing. This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

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Absolutely Outstanding!

Jennifer S. Alderson proves to us all in her latest, Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery: Adventures of Zelda Richardson, Book 3, what I had suspected all along - she is the author to keep an eye on! No joke...she IS the one your mama warned you about! Alderson is on fire, and I have a feeling, this is just the beginning. After reading and listening to another of her books, The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery, I immediately recognized that her writing abilities greatly exceeded other authors of the same genre. Being that it was the first book I ever read by Alderson, I had nothing to compare it to. So, when I saw a couple days ago that Rituals of the Dead was released on audio, I was overjoyed and couldn't wait to give it a listen! I can say with complete confidence that I was correct - Jennifer S. Alderson is an amazingly talented author! Taking a look at the charts on Amazon, I see that I am definitely not the only one who feels this way. Rituals of the Dead is a top seller in 3 separate categories right now, as I type this review, and one of them has the Kindle version teetering between the #1 and #2 spot for Literature and Fiction, focusing in on Foreign Language Fiction. So, Ms. Alderson, just in case you read these reviews, I want to say congratulations! :-)

Chelsea Stephens' performance as narrator was excellent! She did a phenomenal job bringing the characters to life as she flawlessly switched between the early 1960s and 2017. Her consistency made for easy listening, and her voice was pleasing to the ear. I feel she made my overall experience that much more enjoyable and well worth the credit! This is my first time hearing Chelsea Stephens narrate, and, based on her performance here, I definitely plan to check out more of her work! :-)

Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery: Adventures of Zelda Richardson, Book 3 by Jennifer S. Alderson, narrated by Chelsea Stephens is very deserving of 5/5 stars across the board. Not only will you be kept in suspense and wonder, but you will also stay thoroughly entertained from start to finish. If you love historical fiction, mysteries, and culture, you are definitely going to love this audiobook. It is thought-provoking and very-well researched! In fact, it is so well-researched that I had to check if it was actually fiction. I love audiobooks, so, natually, when I find a good one, I can't help but recommend it to others. I have to also say, if you are looking to read a book, yourself, or if you are deciding on your next group or book club read, this one would be a wonderful choice. It can be read as a stand-alone or as part of a series. The content allows for a variety of thoughts and opinions on situations that are real and relevant, which provides wide opportunity for discussion. The characters are relatable and likable, especially Zelda, and it is highly enjoyable! I cannot wait for the next audiobook to be released!

Thank you for reading my review. I hope it was helpful. :-)

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A Highly Powerful Anthropological Mystery

In <strong>Rituals of the Dead</strong> by Jennifer S. Alderson, Zelda Richardson is doing an internship at the Tropenmuseum in Netherlands, where researchers have discovered bones and other artifacts sent to Netherlands by anthropologists from the Asmat region of Papua 50 years earlier. As the researchers open the last two boxes at a public press conference, they pull out two bis poles, Asmat versions of Native American totem poles. But in one of the boxes, they discover the journal from Nick Mayfield, the American son of a millionaire mogul who disappeared during an expedition 50 years earlier. Zelda is given the tiresome chore of photographing the delicate book and is relieved to have finished a day before her deadline. But then the department photographer finds that she can't log into the computer system or use the phones. Janna sends Zelda to the IT department, where Zelda finds all the employees frantically trying to fight off a cyber attack that has infiltrated their entire system. When she returns to the photography department, Zelda is shocked to discover Janna brutally murdered, with the journal and all her equipment stolen.

The book switches back and forth between the activities of Nick in 1962 Papua and those of Zelda in 2017 Netherlands. This proves to be an effective narrative technique, as we see retrospectives of Nick from both his lifetime and through Zelda's eyes as she researches his life amid her own work preparing for the exhibition into bis poles. This method of narrative works all the more compellingly to drawn us more deeply into the mystery.

The plot of this book gripped me and kept me from pausing the recording. I thoroughly loved Alderson's previous book, <em>The Lover's Portrait</em>, but the premise of <strong>Rituals of the Dead</strong> made me unsure if it would be too creepy for me. However, I need not have feared. Yes, there are a couple descriptions of bones that are not wholly pleasant, but they are so crucial to the plot that I didn't mind much, and the scenes are treated tastefully.

This book exposes the dark underbelly of the field of anthropology, especially the practices used in the earliest days. Westerners like Nick and other anthropologists and missionaries would offer trades of axes or tobacco for ritual items deemed sacred to the native Asmats. They took advantage of the native people in using unscrupulous means of gaining their artifacts. Physical anthropologists also collected the bones of natives in order to measure them in the now-debunked belief that measurements of bones, in particular those of skulls, reveal facts about the mental capacities of people. This method of research held a purpose of proving Western superiority. In doing so, they did not treat the bones that they often stole with the respect and care that such bones deserved. This makes us wonder what beliefs and research practices we hold and use today may seem barbaric and ridiculous to scholars 50 years from now.

Chelsea Stephens performs the audio edition of <strong>Rituals of the Dead</strong>. Unlike most cozy mysteries, this book contains mostly narrative and little dialogue. Thus, the performance requires a different approach to narrating the book. Instead of being dramatic, the performance uses a more evenhanded reading, leaving the text to speak for itself. I felt this was a smart decision, making the book seem all the more effective.

I was very pleasantly surprised by <strong>Rituals of the Dead</strong>. As a student of anthropology, I heard about some of the unethical and unscientific practices of certain early pioneers in the field, but this book brought these practices to life in a powerful way. This book was so compelling that I don't think I could have put it down even if I wanted. I heartily endorse this book and give it five stars.

<strong>Disclaimer:</strong> I received this book for free from the author, but that in no way affected the content of my review.

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  • Norma Miles
  • 08-26-18

Property of Nicholas Mayfield

Zelda Richardson had secured an internship at the Tropenmuseum in the Netherlands and was present at the press worthy arrival of crates of artefacts collected years before from the head hunting, ancestor worshiping Asmat tribes of Papua before Christian missionaries put an end to their belief system, activities and, consequently, their art. The boxes had been in storage for decades and had been delivered to the museum for a forthcoming exhibition. But the opening of one of the huge boxes held a surprise, the journal of a collector who disappeared without trace some 50 years before.

The story artfully moves between the present day preparations for the exhibition and Zelda's investigation, and the story of Nicholas Mayfield, the man who's journal that had been found. And along the way, much fascinating information about the Asmat and the political situation extant at the time. All is well written and with nice characterisation. Narrator Chelsea Stevens has a clear voice, her intonation good, if a little stilted at times. Young sounding, she is an excellent voice for the youthful main protagonist, Zeke, and she delivers distinctive seperate character dialogue.

My thanks to the rights holder of Rituals of the Dead, who, at my request, freely gifted me with a complimentary copy, via Audiobook Boom. At times the pace was a little slow but overall this was a fascinating glimpse into a world now long gone and, as such, highly recommended for anyone interested in art history and the time of the great artifact collectors

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  • Jan M
  • 08-16-18

Great Story, Great Narration!

I was really impressed by Jennifer S Alderson with this book. Archeology has always intrigued me, and this book pulled me in from the very beginning. I haven't thought much of rituals of the dead from other countries before listening to this book. I am not naive in believing that shady things do not happen when dealing with antiques and art from other places. This book really brought to light how some things could have been done. The author was brilliantly clever in solving this case, and had unexpected twists. The performance by Chelsea Stephens was great. I really thought she did great with the suspense and proper emotions.