Zerries, Al

views updated

Zerries, Al

(A.J. Zerries, a joint pseudonym)


Born in New York, NY; married; wife's name Jean; children: Zachary, Z. Morgan (son). Education: Pratt Institute, B.A.; studied painting under Burton Silverman, 1998-2000.


Home—Long Island, NY. Agent—Barbara Braun Associates, Inc., 104 5th Ave., 7th Fl., New York, NY 10011. E-mail—[email protected].


Artist and writer. Has worked as an art director, television producer, and creative director at a number of ad agencies, New York, NY; taught advertising at the School of Visual Arts; has exhibited paintings in over 225 national and international exhibitions. Military service: U.S. Army; became first lieutenant.


(Under joint pseudonym A.J. Zerries; with wife, Jean Zerries) The Lost Van Gogh (mystery novel; "Clay Ryder" series), Forge Books (New York, NY), 2006.


Al Zerries is an award-winning fine artist who has shown pieces at hundreds of national and international exhibitions. Before taking up painting in the mid-1990s, he worked for twenty-plus years as an art director, television producer, and creative director for several ad agencies in New York City. Prior to that, he served in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant, and was Airborne and Ranger qualified.

Al collaborated with his wife, Jean, under the joint pseudonym A.J. Zerries to produce their first book. This team effort, titled The Lost Van Gogh, was published in 2006. Called a "smart, emotionally loaded, and strongly anchored art caper" by Booklist critic Donna Seaman, the story revolves around the mysterious appearance of a Vincent van Gogh painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The valuable, long-lost painting was shipped as an ordinary package to the museum via UPS with no return address. Shortly after, the case is handed over to Clay Ryder, an NYPD Major Case Squad detective assigned to art theft.

Ryder eventually discovers that the painting once belonged to a Jewish widow living in Paris, France, in 1944. The painting was presumably stolen by a German SS officer who was reported to have died in a car crash at the end of World War II. The painting was never recovered. Ryder's search for the widow's heirs leads him to Rachel Meredith, a New York University professor, who, after receiving the painting, opts to hold onto it instead of selling it. Shortly after being united with the painting, Rachel is attacked in a seemingly random assault at her office. She calls on Ryder, who offers to help even though the case is closed. The "art cop" soon finds himself up against a clever mastermind who will do whatever it takes to get hold of the painting.

The major part of the story takes place in the present day, although it is heavily linked to events in the past. Mystery Reader reviewer Andy Plonka found this to be "a refreshing change from the recently popular plot device of telling two stories simultaneously, one that is current and one that is happening at some time in the past. Unfortunately, the sequence of events happening in the present sometimes changes from three months ago to present day to a year or two ago without a clear transition." He later added that the book is "well worth reading though thriller devotees will find some faults and some readers may not be pleased with the vivid descriptions of physical torture."



Booklist, May 1, 2006, Donna Seaman, review of The Lost Van Gogh, p. 41.

Publishers Weekly, April 19, 2004, "A Thriller Set in the Art World, Tentatively Titled the Lost Van Gogh, Was Bought for World English Rights by Jim Frenkel at Tor," p. 12.


A.J. Zerries Home Page,http://www.ajzerries.com (April, 2008).

Mystery Bookshelf,http://www.mysterybookshelf.com/ (April, 2008), review of The Lost Van Gogh.

Mystery Reader,http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (April, 2008), Andy Plonka, review of The Lost Van Gogh.