Plot: This multilayered story deftly transitions from past to present and across world cultures to explore a confounding mystery. Alderson successfully weaves diverse elements into her plot, while maintaining tension and forward momentum throughout.
Prose: Alderson expertly combines a contemporary narrative with the rich history of Papua New Guinea and the Asmat culture. In her detail-rich prose, Alderson explores the eerie circumstances behind a legendary disappearance.
Originality: While delving into a mystery via the study of skeletal remains and artifacts isn't unusual, Alderson's focus on anthropology and the ways in which the past permeates the present, is fresh and engrossing.
Character Development: Alderson successfully develops a large cast of nuanced characters, including adversaries. Readers will root for the smart and accomplished heroine of the story.
Date Submitted: May 16, 2018
"Rituals of the Dead just blew me away. I’ve read other books by Jennifer S. Alderson and am quite familiar with the quirky naivete of Zelda Richardson, the main character in Jennifer’s thrillers. This book sees Zelda in the centre of an anthropological mystery where her trusting, yet inquisitive nature, which makes her so endearing to the reader, could potentially spell the end of her life. The pace is fast without being hectic; the intrigue unfolds steadily, sustaining the reader’s interest to the very end.
I enjoyed every single line of the book, but my favourite parts were the flashbacks where the author offers a glimpse of a culture that I know very little about. The chapters set in Papua and New Guinea, the insights into the life and rituals of the Asmat people are, in my opinion, priceless.
I recommend the book to everybody who is interested not just in thrillers, but in cultural exploration as well."
First, I'm a big fan of Alderson's, and I've read her other books, The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery, Down and Out in Kathmandu: Adventures in Backpacking, and Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand. I was impressed by the first book and continued to love her work. When I heard about this one, Rituals of the Dead, I was already excited to read it. Now, with all that said, I need to dive right into this story. Even when I like or love an author's work, I never have any preconceived notions about whether or not I will like the book or not.
From chapter one, I was drawn in, very curious about Nick and wondering where he or his life would fall in to the life of Zelda.
Alderson is a grand writer, and I like her writing style. Her research and knowledge are shown within the story, and her characters.
I like Zelda, and always have, and this book brings more depth to her character, and sets her on a new mystery. I love that she's human, and has to prevent herself from getting sick in the most presence of the most gruesome scenes of death and decay.
Look forward to more. Simply magnificent, filled with intrigue and suspense, and a lot of wonder!