Mystery Thriller Week continues with the spotlight on Jennifer S. Alderson, author of The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery Series
Book title: The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery Series: Adventures of Zelda Richardson (Book 2 – can be read as a standalone)
Author: Jennifer S. Alderson
Genre: Mystery, Amateur Sleuth, Historical Fiction
Published: June 24, 2016
When a homosexual 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 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 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.
This amateur sleuth mystery describes the plight of homosexuals and Jewish artists in Europe during World War II, as well as the complexities inherent to the restitution of artwork stolen by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s.
The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery draws on the author’s experiences gained while studying art history in the Netherlands and working for several Dutch museums.
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~ Excerpt ~
June 26, 1942: Just two more crates, then our work is finally done, Arjan reminded himself as he bent down to grasp the thick twine handles, his back muscles already yelping in protest. Drops of sweat were burning his eyes, blurring his vision. “You can do this,” he said softly, heaving the heavy oak box upwards with an audible grunt.
Philip nodded once then did the same. Together they lugged their loads across the moonlit room, down the metal stairs and into the cool subterranean space below. After hoisting the last two crates onto a stack close to the ladder, Arjan smiled in satisfaction, slapping Philip on the back as he regarded their work. One hundred and fifty-two crates holding his most treasured objects, and those of so many of his friends, were finally safe. Relief briefly overcame the panic and dread he’d been feeling for longer than he could remember. Preparing the space and artwork had taken more time than he’d hoped it would, but they’d done it. Now he could leave Amsterdam knowing he’d stayed true to his word. Arjan glanced over at Philip, glad that he’d trusted him. He stretched out a hand towards the older man, “They fit perfectly.”
Philip answered with a hasty handshake and a tight smile before nodding towards the ladder, “Shall we?”
He was right, Arjan thought, there was still so much to do. They climbed back up into the small shed and closed the heavy metal lid, careful to cushion its fall. They didn’t want to give the neighbors an excuse to call the Gestapo. Not when they were so close to being finished…
~ About the Author ~
Jennifer S. Alderson worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington before trading her financial security for a backpack. After traveling extensively around Asia and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands. There she earned degrees in art history and museum studies. Home is now Amsterdam, where she lives with her Dutch husband and young son. Jennifer’s travels and experiences color and inform her internationally-oriented fiction. Her first novel, Down and Out in Kathmandu: adventures in backpacking, is a travel fiction adventure through Nepal and Thailand. The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery, her second book, is a suspenseful ‘whodunit?’ which transports readers to wartime and present day Amsterdam. Both are part of an on-going stand-alone series following the adventures of traveler and culture lover, Zelda Richardson.
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