This time, a guest blog from my good friend and AWESOME writer Jennifer S. Alderson, who has a new book coming out! Read all about Zelda Richardson’s new adventure in Rituals of the Dead, a book filled with mystery, art and anthropology. This time Jennifer takes us back to historic Papua New Guinea, where headhunters once roamed…
I am so excited to announce the impending release of my third novel, Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery. Set in Amsterdam and Papua New Guinea, it combines anthropology, art, and history into one thrilling adventure. It’s been a joy to write because the subject matter is near and dear to my heart.
The exhibition central to my artifact mystery is based on an actual exhibition of bis poles entitled Bis poles: Sculptures of the Rainforest. They are ancestor objects akin to Native American totem poles. They were created to honor dead ancestors during a six-week long ‘bis’ or headhunting ceremony.
Those featured in this exhibition were primarily collected from Asmat, a region of Papua New Guinea whose villagers (also called ‘Asmat’) are famous for their exquisite wood carvings. Bis poles are considered to be the highpoint of Asmat art. Since Westerners discovered them in the 1930s, they have been a much desired cultural artifact, purchased by private collectors and museums. Though most were acquired through barter and long negotiations, too many of the Asmat objects in public museum collections worldwide were stolen by opportunistic Westerners.
I worked on this exhibition in 2008, as a collection researcher for the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam’s anthropological museum. I was tasked with conducting archival and photographic research into the poles, as well as a number of legendary Dutch missionaries and anthropologists active in Papua New Guinea in the 1930s through the 1960s. During my research, I came across so many bizarre stories about headhunting raids, brave missionaries, crazy explorers and daring anthropologists. It felt like I had the basis for a great mystery in my hands.
My hope in writing this book is not only to entertain readers, but also inspire them to learn more about the Asmat and their fascinating culture. I can’t wait to share Rituals of the Dead with mystery and thriller fans!
Thanks Jennifer! I can’t wait to read it. Learn more about Rituals of the Dead below, and find out how to order it!
Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery
Art, religion, and anthropology collide in Alderson’s upcoming art mystery thriller, Rituals of the Dead, Book Three of the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series.
This time she’s working at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam on an exhibition of bis poles from the Asmat region of Papua New Guinea – 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 about the man’s last days and his connection to these ritual objects.
Zelda is pulled into a world of shady anthropologists, missionaries, art collectors, gallery owners, and smugglers, where the only certainty is that sins of the past are never fully erased.
Join Zelda on her next quest as she grapples with the anthropologist’s mysterious disappearance fifty years earlier, and a present-day murderer who will do everything to prevent her from discovering the truth.
Expected release date March 2018.
Pre-order Rituals of the Dead now via Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble NOOK and Smashwords.
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.