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The Lover's Portrait

(Zelda Richardson Mystery #1)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  435 ratings  ·  125 reviews
A portrait holds the key to recovering a cache of looted artwork, secreted away during World War II, in this captivating historical art thriller set in the 1940s and present-day Amsterdam.

When a 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
Paperback, 263 pages
Published June 24th 2016 by Traveling Life Press (first published April 2016)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  435 ratings  ·  125 reviews

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Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: benelux-crime
A solid 4 stars
I won this book from the author in a contest. My apologies for taking a year to read and review it. Although this is book 2 in the series, they are written as stand alones. I previously read book 1 in the series and you don't need to read it in order to enjoy this one. I actually liked this book more than the first, which had some flaws. This one does not have any flaws.
Zelda Richardson is an art student/applicant trying to get into a Masters program at a Netherlands university in
Bobby Underwood
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A swiftly flowing narrative, the beauty and rhythm of Amsterdam, mystery and intrigue surrounding paintings pilfered during the second world war by Nazis, and a charming relationship between the protagonist, Zelda, and her young Dutch tutor, Friederich, make this a wonderfully readable mystery.

It opens with a flashback to 1942, with a man named Arjan trying to stay one step ahead of Nazi Oswald Drechsler by keeping art treasures out of the hands of the Gestapo. These flashbacks are intermittent
Pamela Allegretto
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For me, a good historical novel must comprise fully developed characters, a compelling narrative, and absorbing information about the particular era referenced in the story. “The Lover’s Portrait” by Jennifer S. Alderson fits all these requirements.
The protagonist, Zelda Richardson, is a resilient, gutsy, ethical art history student who just might be in over her head when her search for truth entangles her in a 70-year-old web of stolen paintings, blackmail, and murder.
The author’s exemplary r
Olga Miret
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
A well-paced mystery that takes us back to a fascinating and tragic historical era Thanks to Rosie’s Book Review Team and to the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I voluntarily chose to review. (If you are a writer and are interested in getting first-class reviews do check here).
I love art but cannot claim to be a connoisseur and I’ve never been to Amsterdam (well, I stopped at the airport to change planes once but that was that) but I can reassure you neither of those t
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook-mystery
When I read The Lover's Portrait, I was entranced from the beginning. Art stolen from the Jewish owners during World War II has fascinated me so much. The story comes alive when reading about the art owner and the Gallery owner. There are so many unusual facets to this story. Subjects that I had never read about unfolded allowing me to see another side of the war and the people that were punished in inhumane ways for being who they are.

Each chapter held my interest and kept me wanting to know m
Carole P. Roman
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well written mystery about stolen Nazi artwork. Alderson constructs a credible tale, that could have been ripped from current headlines of a young art student, Zelda Richardson thrust into a uncomfortable position working with a hostile colleague on a project attempting to reunite artwork with original owners. When two women claim ownership of the same painting, she finds herself thrust into danger and intrigue as she tries to unravel the tangled past. Informative and fast paced, this is an inte ...more
Lucia Davis
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a fun and exciting read! The mystery itself was compelling and made me want to keep reading (I read it in one day, because I couldn’t put it down). The location and time period were the icing on the cake. The story not only takes the reader to the Amsterdam of today, but also of the past, during the time of WW II. Featuring the stolen and lost art during the German occupation of the Netherlands, it tells about what was happening in Amsterdam during that period, without it turning into a ...more
Megan (ReadingRover)
What a great art history mystery!!! This was such an interesting book about artwork lost during WWII being located and reunited with survivors and their families. Zelda was an incredibly dogged amateur investigator. Even though she did go a bit overboard and get herself into trouble at times she was determined as hell to find out what really happened. I admire that in a character. I loved Fredrick her compliant guy friend too. He was such a good sport. The whole process of reuniting paintings wi ...more
Elizabeth Lloyd
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
American Art History student Zelda Richardson loves her life in Amsterdam, but entrance into the Master’s course in Museum Studies depends on her performance as an intern at the Amsterdam Historical Museum. She is asked to work on an online project to restore 1500 paintings stolen by the Nazis during World War Two to their rightful owners or descendants but she is not welcomed onto the project by the stiff, unfriendly Huub Konijn, senior curator at the Jewish Historical Museum, who designed the ...more
This book has all the ingredients needed for a great mystery/thriller: history, intrigue, conspiracy, heartbreak, action and suspense. It may sound contrived or mundane to say that a book is a "page-turner" and that one "couldn't put it down", but it really is true of 'The Lover's Portait'. Set in Amsterdam, t's a well-designed, fabulous historical puzzle, solved decades later by someone who has no intention of becoming a detective; rather, it is through her dogged commitment to the truth that s ...more
Jane Jordan
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The premise for The Lovers Portrait along with the title was intriguing, and the story was very enjoyable.

The historical element of just how many works of art were lost or stolen during the second world war, was skillfully researched and portrayed. Ms. Alderson sets the scene perfectly for an intriguing tale of hope, fear, and dangerous liaisons. The story is set in Amsterdam, and when Zelda an art history student, begins unraveling conflicting claims on a recovered painting, danger lurks in unl
Anne Janzer
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Lover's Portrait ticks all of the boxes for a good mystery read: interesting subject, unusual setting, and compelling mystery. The bonus, with this book, is the historical grounding. The story could almost be torn from current headlines, dealing with issues of disputed ownership for artwork that changed hands during periods of Nazi occupation. Alderson deftly intermingles the two mysteries, one contemporary and one in the past, while immersing the reader in an Amsterdam peopled with interest ...more
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Lover’s Portrait is an intriguing art mystery with interwoven flashbacks that reveal just enough to propel the narrative forward without giving away the ending. The writing flows without hiccup and I can only imagine the countless hours of research required to lend the story authenticity. I’d certainly read more from this author.
Robbie Cheadle
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this novel as an audio book and I absolutely loved it. Ms Alderson’s descriptions of beautiful Amsterdam and the lovely artworks detailed in the book are superb and were an interesting background for this very exciting thriller. The book is largely set in the present time but flips back to the past intermittently. I thought the movement between the time periods was well done and really added to the intensity of the book.

The plot revolves around a piece of art, called Irises, that i
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review first appeared on our blog, where the author offers top tips for a visit to Amsterdam:

Firmly set in Amsterdam, this enjoyable mystery explores the darker world of misappropriated and stolen art works during World War II.

Zelda Richardson, an American, is applying to do a Master’s programme in Amsterdam and therefore must not jeopardise her future by ill-considered actions. But she is a head strong young woman who is doing an internship at the Am
Jennifer S. Alderson
Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite [posted on November 21, 2016 here:

The Lover’s Portrait by Jennifer S. Alderson is the second novel in The Adventures of Zelda Richardson series. Zelda just earned her way into an internship working at a museum exhibit showcasing stolen objects from WWII in hopes that the rightful families will claim them. It’s a dream come true. That is until Zelda finds out she’s meant to read and revise a website that has gra
S.K. Wee
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a great story that delves into some of the history of Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation. The story revolves around Zelda who is trying to get into a Master’s program in Art history by working as an intern at a museum. Though she believed she would play an important role in the museum’s quest to locate owners of lost or stolen art, she is firmly set into the background of the project. Showing initiative by redesigning the Museum’s website, she makes mistake after mistake and plays a pi ...more
Jennifer S. Alderson
This amateur sleuth mystery describes the plight of homosexuals and Jewish artists in Europe during World War Two, as well as the complexities inherent to the restitution of artwork stolen by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. This period of European history was relatively unknown to me before I moved to the Netherlands to study Art History and Museum Studies. Writing this story gave me a chance to process all I’ve learned about the incredibly complex era, and an excuse to further investigate tho ...more
Diane Lynch
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

An American college student, Zelda Richardson, is doing a graduate internship at a Museum in Amsterdam. Zelda’s simple college life turns into a nightmare when Zelda gets too involved in her internship assignment. This story takes place in current Amsterdam and flashes back to Nazi occupation Amsterdam.

Artwork was stolen by Nazi’s or hidden from Nazi’s. Finding this artwork and getting it back to their rightful owners is not an easy process. Unsavory people laying claim to found art work makes
Harriet Steel
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-mystery
Thrilled at securing an internship at the prestigious Amsterdam Museum, art history student and amateur sleuth, Zelda Richardson, is disappointed when she finds that her role in an important exhibition aimed at reuniting owners with paintings looted by the Nazis in World War II looks like being a minor one. That state of affairs doesn't last long though and she's soon in the thick of the action in this pacey art mystery that kept me up reading until the small hours. Zelda is an engaging heroine ...more
Daniella Bernett
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A vibrant, authentic depiction of Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation. Jennifer Alderson does a magnificent job of bringing the past to life as she weaves an intriguing mystery full of suspense.
Lexie Conyngham
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is not a cosy mystery, with its backdrop of Nazi blackmail and murder in Second World War Amsterdam, but the naivete of the main character is usually charming (sometimes she is just daft!). Young Zelda, the innocent abroad, gives us insights into the fine art end of the museum world, and the investigations that have to take place to link a looted painting with its original owners, while she solves a nasty little mystery which leads to murder in the present, too. The setting is clearly dear ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Zelda, an expatriate from America in Amsterdam, desperately wants to get into a graduate program in museum design in The Lover’s Portrait by Jennifer S. Alderson. However, Zelda’s background gives her a low chance of getting into the program until her adviser recommends her as an intern for an exhibit on stolen Nazi art meant to help reunite looted art with its true owners. Helping the exhibition copy edit its website is not exactly her idea of a great internship, but she gets excited when a wom ...more
Sandra McKenna
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Totally unputdownable.

Oh my goodness, what an amazing read.
It contains everything I love in a book; World War II history, mystery, murder, secrets and lies, deception and greed.
Basically this magnificent story set in Amsterdam, centres around lost and stolen art works during World War II, and its recovery. The dual timeline between present day and WW2 leaves plenty of hints which all come together in the end.
So brilliantly written and researched, this book had me hooked from beginning to end.
Barb Taub
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Write what you know.” Like most vintage advice, there is a kernel of truth to that, especially if you interpret it as “take what you’ve experienced and use it to inform and color what you write”. Jennifer S. Alderson is certainly one writer who takes that advice to heart. Like her character Zelda, she was working as a website developer in Seattle, Washington, when the travel bug hit. After several international stops, she ended up in the Netherlands, pursuing a graduate program and internship i ...more
Alderson has done an excellent job putting together a captivating mystery involving a search for missing art from Nazi occupied WWII era Amsterdam. The story slides back and forth between current day and the 1940's to explain events as they happened, giving back story and laying out clues. I like that in a story when it's done well - and it is here. Ms. Alderson uses Amsterdam as her backdrop and Art History as part of the primary subject matter in the book, both topics on which she is well vers ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I loved this story so much I am giving it 4.5 stars.

I was completely hooked within the first 10 minutes of listening to the audiobook and just knew this was going to be a good story. It did not disappoint.
I loved how it moved between the present and the past to give us the perfect story. I also enjoyed the fact that it was set in Amsterdam in stead of the usual setting of USA or the UK like most books. The way this author described the city and it's museums were so vivid that I have even placed
Scott Stavrou
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fine and fascinating read for lovers of art, history, mysteries and well-written books.
This intricate and well-woven tapestry of a novel seamlessly weaves together threads of the dark days of occupied WWII Amsterdam and Nazi plunder of precious artworks with the modern-day heroine’s attempts to discover discover the missing masterpieces and dig into the provenance of the lost plundered artworks and her quest to help ascertain rightful ownership and restitution.

Alderson deftly manages to weave
Phyllis Entis
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The manager of the Stolen Arts exhibition gets more than she bargained for when two different women lay claim to the same painting. Who is the rightful owner of Irises? Is it Rita Brouwer, whose photographic evidence and emotional response on setting eyes on the painting engages the sympathy of intern Zelda Richardson? Or is it Karen O’Neil, attorney at her side, whose extensive documentation strongly supports her claim? When t
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the book because for 2 days (while reading it) I was transported to my home town Amsterdam. I am a Mokumer at heart!!
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Hi! I am an American expat currently living in Amsterdam. After traveling extensively around Asia, Oceania, and Central America, I moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands. When not writing, you can find me in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning my next research trip.

My love of travel, art, and culture inspires my awa

Other books in the series

Zelda Richardson Mystery (4 books)
  • Rituals of the Dead (Zelda Richardson Mystery #2)
  • Marked for Revenge (Zelda Richardson Mystery #3)
  • The Vermeer Deception (Zelda Richardson Mystery #4)

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