Still Lives
A young editor at a Los Angeles art museum finds herself pulled into the disturbing and dangerous world of a famous artist who goes missing on the opening night of her exhibition Kim Lord is an avant garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur in the L.A. art scene. Her groundbreaking new exhibition Still Lives is comprised of self-portraits depicting herself as famous, murdered women—the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Nicole Brown Simpson, among many others—and the works are as compelling as they are disturbing, implicating a culture that is too accustomed to violence against women. As the city’s richest art patrons pour into the Rocque Museum’s opening night, all of the staff, including editor Maggie Richter, hope the event will be enough to save the historic institution’s flailing finances. Except Kim Lord never shows up to her own gala Fear mounts as the hours and days drag on and Lord remains missing. Suspicion falls upon the up-and-coming gallerist Greg Shaw Ferguson, who happens to be Maggie’s ex. A rogue’s gallery of eccentric art world figures could also have motive for the act, and as Maggie gets drawn into her own investigation of Lord’s disappearance, she’ll come to suspect all of those closest to her. Set against a culture that too often fetishizes violence against women, Still Lives is a page-turning exodus into the art world’s hall of mirrors, and one woman’s journey into the belly of an industry flooded with money and secrets.

Still Lives Details

TitleStill Lives
Author
ReleaseJun 5th, 2018
PublisherCounterpoint Press
ISBN-139781619021112
Rating
GenreMystery, Fiction, Thriller

Still Lives Review

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    January 1, 1970
    ”For the four years I’ve lived in Los Angeles, the Rocque Museum has been my workplace and my university, offering me a degree in contemporary art and the cosmopolitan life---brilliant as the blues in a Sam Francis painting, decadent as a twenty-four-karat cast of a cat testicle. Most days pass in a pleasurable blur of words and pictures. Most nights I hate to leave my little office, especially on April evenings like this, when I can look over my mess of proofs, out to the greening city, and ima ”For the four years I’ve lived in Los Angeles, the Rocque Museum has been my workplace and my university, offering me a degree in contemporary art and the cosmopolitan life---brilliant as the blues in a Sam Francis painting, decadent as a twenty-four-karat cast of a cat testicle. Most days pass in a pleasurable blur of words and pictures. Most nights I hate to leave my little office, especially on April evenings like this, when I can look over my mess of proofs, out to the greening city, and imagine I am still happy.” Blue Sky Painting by Sam FrancisUnfortunately, we can rarely appreciate how happy we are until the moment has passed. For Maggie Richter, Los Angeles offers an opportunity to find a career where she can work with intelligent, creative, and passionate people who care about the same things she does. Any relationship with L.A. would be listed on Facebook as complicated, what with its convoluted history involving more crushed dreams than realized aspirations. It is a place where glimmering fantasies are merely shimmering shapes that never fully materialize, and luck is as necessary as talent. Maggie knows that, with a city like L.A., there is give and take, but right now she feels she may have given too much. ”What happened between us still mystifies me: how two lovers can move to a city, and the city itself wraps around them like vines, pulling them apart, pushing them toward others, until they become so entwined in their separate lives that they can no longer recognize what they once felt, or even who they once were.”Greg SHAW Ferguson, or I guess I should just call him SHAW since he is trying to morph himself into the Prince or the Sting or the Moby of the art gallery world, drops Maggie like a bag full of fire ants and scatters her emotions in all directions. Soul mated for life? Well, at least until he meets Kim Lord. Kim Lord has a reputation for producing edgy, progressive art, but she has been out of circulation for a while, so this new exhibition, Still Lives, that she does in conjunction with the Rocque Museum, is not only going to reestablish her reputation, but also give the Rocque some much needed publicity, as well. Maggie needs to meet someone new.Work is still a great way to meet potential mates because of the ridiculous amount of time we spend with people we toil with, but for Maggie, the percentages are not so good at the museum. ”Of the less than fifty percent of museum employees that are men, half are gay and a quarter are married. The other quarter tend to date cocktail straws.” Ok, I laughed out loud at cocktail straws. I’ve met a few of those California cocktail straws who seem to exist on celery, coffee, and cigarettes. The other problem that can not be denied is that Maggie is still hung up on Greg, pardon me, SHAW. She is suffering as a swan, a penguin, or a gray wolf, all creatures who scientists tell us mate for life. The problem is Greg seems to be a bunny, a ground squirrel, or maybe a flighty chickadee. She can’t just move on, even though she knows she should. She has some caring friends who encourage her to jump back on the horse (Maggie does have a horse incident believe it or not), and she begins the endless setup dates of friends of friends that are bandaids on a situation that really needs a tourniquet. Model Judy Ann Dull was murdered by Harvey Glatman in 1957. Glatman took several pictures of his victims tied up in numerous poses. And then there is Kim Lord’s face everywhere, even in the art for the show. The exhibit is highlighting women who have been brutally murdered, such as Elizabeth Short, famously known as The Black Dahlia, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Judy Ann Dull. In Lord’s art, it isn’t Elizabeth, Nicole, and Judy, but Kim Lord herself who is posing in the place of the original victim. Can you imagine being constantly reminded of your rival everywhere you turn? Rival might be the wrong word, for how can one compete with the explosive vivacity and intensity of a force of nature like Kim Lord? Then Lord has the audacity to go missing. Suspect #1 Greg SHAW Ferguson. That middle name comes in handy now because serial killers, terrorists, and murderers are usually identified with all three names in the newspaper. Not much farther down the list of suspects would probably appear the name Maggie Richter. No middle name necessary at this point. It might not be the best decision for a museum copy editor to become a gumshoe, but she is driven by a need to find out what happened to Lord, free Greg, and in the process hopefully find herself again. These art museum people who populate this novel are culturally tuned in and have many similarities to the bookstore people I used to hang out with. They are clever, jaded, cruel, caring, driven, spontaneous, but capable of still believe the world can be made a better place. They don’t want a job. They want a calling. These are my kind of people. Maria Hummel has a light touch. She is observant and descriptive in clever ways, with word choices that bring a smile to my lips. She makes me want Maggie to do more than just solve a mystery. I wanted her to go beyond just imagining being happy. I wanted her to find a way to BE happy. I want to thank Megan Fishmann and Counterpoint Press for supplying me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
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  • Larry H
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars.The Rocque Museum was one of Los Angeles' hidden treasures—an art museum for art lovers and collectors more than for tourists. While this set the institution apart, this also took a toll on its finances. Everyone is desperate for a hit exhibition, including the founder's daughter, who is tired of bailing out the museum and the director, who is worried about job security.They think they've found it in Still Lives , an exhibition by artist and provocateur Kim Lord. Lord painted self-por 3.5 stars.The Rocque Museum was one of Los Angeles' hidden treasures—an art museum for art lovers and collectors more than for tourists. While this set the institution apart, this also took a toll on its finances. Everyone is desperate for a hit exhibition, including the founder's daughter, who is tired of bailing out the museum and the director, who is worried about job security.They think they've found it in Still Lives , an exhibition by artist and provocateur Kim Lord. Lord painted self-portraits with her standing in for famous murder victims such as Nicole Brown Simpson, Kitty Genovese, Chandra Levy, and the Black Dahlia, in an effort to make a statement about how society and the media sensationalize violence against women. The pictures are chilling, eerie, and disturbing, and the elite of the art world are gathering at the Rocque to see the exhibition unveiled.There's one issue though: Kim Lord doesn't show up for her own opening. Key museum staff receive texts that she'll be delayed a bit, but she never appears. And while her disappearance is helping boost the number of visitors, the longer she doesn't surface, the more concern grows, especially when some staff recount Lord's mentioning she felt she was being stalked in the museum.Maggie Richter, a member of the museum's communications and PR office, wants to understand what happened to Kim, too, and it's not just because that would make her job easier. Maggie's ex-boyfriend, gallerist-on-the-rise Greg Shaw Ferguson, essentially dumped her for Kim, and it's not long before he stands accused of Kim's disappearance. Maggie wants to believe that the Greg she knew wouldn't be capable of anything nefarious, but she knows there are things he isn't telling her.As Maggie searches for clues within Kim's own work, she begins to notice there is a lot more behind-the-scenes drama at the museum than she realized. Little by little, she starts to suspect others might have been responsible for Kim's disappearance, but she can't seem to make sense of their motivation. At the same time, she, too, becomes a suspect, given Kim's relationship with Shaw, but Maggie isn't sure what might happen—will she stand accused of a crime, or will she fall prey to the real perpetrator, who is determined to stop her progress?"Find the who. Who gets hurt. Who gains. Whose life will never be the same."This book is a fascinating look at the art world, the rise and fall of artists, the struggles of museums, and how collectors can change the flow of careers. At the same time, it's also a bit of a whodunit, one of those books in which an average, everyday person finds themselves immersed in trying to solve a crime despite having no real skills at doing so, and despite the fact they're putting themselves in danger.The information that Maria Hummel provides gives a lot of insight into the former, and I like the way she describes the dynamics of the museum staff and the goings-on around the mounting of an exhibition. But as the book shifts full-time toward Maggie trying to figure out what happened to Kim and who was responsible, it loses its footing a bit. There is so much extraneous information thrown into the plot that I can't figure out what were supposed to be red herrings and what were just unresolved threads of the plot.I like the way Hummel writes—this book has a breezy style, and the characters, while somewhat irritating, definitely got me invested in the story. While I enjoyed the book, I just wish the mystery part was executed a little cleaner, because it really had a lot of potential. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    The glittering world of art can be at once insightful and nasty. Set in L. A at a prestigious gallery that is having money problems, a new show featuring the avant garde, often shocking Kim Lord. Her latest installations are paintings of women who were mudered in Los Angeles, including Nicole zBrown Simpson and the Black Dahlia. Lord uses her own face and body but the manner of death is prominently and sometimes graphically displayed. Maggie, a copy editor and proof reader for the museum, has ro The glittering world of art can be at once insightful and nasty. Set in L. A at a prestigious gallery that is having money problems, a new show featuring the avant garde, often shocking Kim Lord. Her latest installations are paintings of women who were mudered in Los Angeles, including Nicole zBrown Simpson and the Black Dahlia. Lord uses her own face and body but the manner of death is prominently and sometimes graphically displayed. Maggie, a copy editor and proof reader for the museum, has roots in journalism, which is her first love. At the opening gala, Kim Lord makes headlines when she doesn't show up for her own show.This is a tightly plotted, literary mystery. What happened to Kim? Clues are scarce, the timeline of her disappearance, suspect but Maggie is determined to get to the bottom of this crime. She has a vested interest in the outcome. In her journey we see the parts of Los Angeles that is far from glam. We also see how violence to women titillates and sells. We see the underside of the art world, from collectors who manipulate the market to scammers who are out for a quick buck. There is a full, well rounded supporting cast and plenty of interpersonal drama. It all balances out nicely though, didn't guess the finale until Maggie herself makes the connection. This is a well done, well thought out story and is so much more than just a thriller.ARC from Counterpoint.
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  • Maxwell
    January 1, 1970
    This was a pretty disappointing read. The description made it sound like a book that was right up my alley. And while everything mentioned in the blurb does in fact happen in the book, it's not told in as thrilling of a way as you might expect. In fact, for a 275 page book, the first 100-150 pages or so are fairly unexciting. Things happen and you (sort of) get to know the characters, but it's not very engaging.Another issue I had with this book was that I never felt like I was able to understan This was a pretty disappointing read. The description made it sound like a book that was right up my alley. And while everything mentioned in the blurb does in fact happen in the book, it's not told in as thrilling of a way as you might expect. In fact, for a 275 page book, the first 100-150 pages or so are fairly unexciting. Things happen and you (sort of) get to know the characters, but it's not very engaging.Another issue I had with this book was that I never felt like I was able to understand Maggie, our main character, and her motivations. We get small glimpses into her past and her connections to the other characters, but we are kept at a distance from her. For a thriller/mystery where the protagonist is getting sucked into a murder case, you'd expect to discover things with her and feel that fear, excitement, etc. but it's all very one-note. There aren't a lot of emotions, even when somewhat dramatic things happen.It also feels like it's trying to say something about the fetishization of violence against women, but the novel is more concerned with the appearance of making a statement than actually making a statement. Like the artwork of Kim Lord, it's all about the image and not nearly enough about the thought behind it.
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  • Elyse
    January 1, 1970
    “Not every woman fantasizes about being a sex slave or starlet or murder victim! Some of us just want to get sucked into a good novel and grow our own tomatoes one day when we have more time”. How might you feel if your ex boyfriendopens up an Art Gallery.... offers you a dream job ...then begins shacking up with *Kim Lord*....whose ‘every’ painting, “is so powerful it makes your eyes bleed”. .....who also happens to be a ‘no show’at her grand Galla art exhibition with over 300 guests expected? “Not every woman fantasizes about being a sex slave or starlet or murder victim! Some of us just want to get sucked into a good novel and grow our own tomatoes one day when we have more time”. How might you feel if your ex boyfriendopens up an Art Gallery.... offers you a dream job ...then begins shacking up with *Kim Lord*....whose ‘every’ painting, “is so powerful it makes your eyes bleed”. .....who also happens to be a ‘no show’at her grand Galla art exhibition with over 300 guests expected? WE DO GET SUCKED INTO THIS NOVEL.....great too!!!!This mystery - suspense-novel was not only well written & **enjoyable**, but a tribute to the gritty-crazed-thriving Los Angeles Art Scene.
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  • Book of the Month
    January 1, 1970
    Why I Love itby Sarah BedwellIn the world of mystery novels, there’s an elephant in the room that no one’s talking about: society’s fascination with violence against women. Don’t get me wrong, I love this genre, but sometimes I find myself wanting a little more feminism to go with all the female victimhood. Luckily, I found this in Still Lives, a suspenseful, splashy story about fame, sex, and how our culture views women’s bodies.Kim Lord is a prominent and provocative artist whose new show—a se Why I Love itby Sarah BedwellIn the world of mystery novels, there’s an elephant in the room that no one’s talking about: society’s fascination with violence against women. Don’t get me wrong, I love this genre, but sometimes I find myself wanting a little more feminism to go with all the female victimhood. Luckily, I found this in Still Lives, a suspenseful, splashy story about fame, sex, and how our culture views women’s bodies.Kim Lord is a prominent and provocative artist whose new show—a series of portraits in which she impersonates real-life murdered women—is about to be the art event of the year. Maggie Richter is an editor toiling at the Los Angeles museum where Lord’s work will be unveiled. When Lord fails to appear at the opening night of her show, it’s unclear whether it’s an artist’s stunt or actually foul play. And Maggie, who dreads the worst, finds herself being pulled to the center of a plot bigger than she could’ve ever imagined.What happened to Kim Lord? I was flying through this book to find out. But I also loved that it tackled the sticky subject of how women are portrayed in art, culture, and the media—and the consequences of those portrayals. This is a thrilling book, and a much-needed one. Read it and you’ll see what I mean.Read more at https://www.bookofthemonth.com/still-...
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  • Meredith B. (readingwithmere)
    January 1, 1970
    4 Stars!Thank you to Counterpoint Press for sending me a free finished copy of Still Lives!This book's subject matter is unlike anything I've read before. It centers around the art community which frankly I don't have much knowledge of. Ultimately this book is a mystery about a missing person but the way the author wove in the Art community was very interesting.Kim Lord is a famous artist and it's her opening night of a her new exhibit. She takes on a tough subject when it comes to her art: abus 4 Stars!Thank you to Counterpoint Press for sending me a free finished copy of Still Lives!This book's subject matter is unlike anything I've read before. It centers around the art community which frankly I don't have much knowledge of. Ultimately this book is a mystery about a missing person but the way the author wove in the Art community was very interesting.Kim Lord is a famous artist and it's her opening night of a her new exhibit. She takes on a tough subject when it comes to her art: abused and battered women. She paints portraits of these women with underlying themes of abuse such as Nicole Brown Simpson. She paints based on emotion and tries to portray the struggle for women in these situations.The night of her exhibit opening she is no where to be found so she must be running late..or is she?Maggie works for the press company and is covering the exhibit launch. The funny thing is that her ex husband Greg is actually separated from her to be with Kim Lord so Maggie isn't exactly thrilled. Maggie is the one that starts to put the puzzle pieces together of Kim Lord's disappearance. Could it be that Kim is totally innocent in this whole thing and jealously could be the real culprit?As I stated before the thing that worked for me best with this book is the intertwine of the art culture and the mystery. The fact that Kim drew portraits of women who struggled and then she had a struggle herself was a very interesting story line. I overall really enjoyed this book and it comes out in June. I recommend picking it up!
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    "Still Lives offers its readers a combination of entertainment and brilliance. It's at once profound and suspenseful, the ending had me gasping in surprise!. The book as a whole asks important questions about art and representation and how we, as a culture, objectify and endanger and victimize women. Maria Hummel has written a remarkable, relevant, and necessary novel."—Kim Lord is an avant-garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur in the L.A. art scene. Her groundbreaking new exhibitio "Still Lives offers its readers a combination of entertainment and brilliance. It's at once profound and suspenseful, the ending had me gasping in surprise!. The book as a whole asks important questions about art and representation and how we, as a culture, objectify and endanger and victimize women. Maria Hummel has written a remarkable, relevant, and necessary novel."—Kim Lord is an avant-garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur in the L.A. art scene. Her groundbreaking new exhibition Still Lives is comprised of self-portraits depicting herself as famous, murdered women—the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Nicole Brown Simpson, among many others—and the works are as compelling as they are disturbing, implicating a culture that is too accustomed to violence against women. As the city’s richest art patrons pour into the Rocque Museum’s opening night, all the staff, including editor Maggie Richter, hope the event will be enough to save the historic institution’s flailing finances. Except Kim Lord never shows up to her own gala. Fear mounts as the hours and days drag on and Lord remains missing. Suspicion falls on the up-and-coming gallerist Greg Shaw Ferguson, who happens to be Maggie’s ex. A rogue’s gallery of eccentric art world figures could also have motive for the act, and as Maggie gets drawn into her own investigation of Lord’s disappearance, she’ll come to suspect all of those closest to her. Set against a culture that often fetishizes violence, Still Lives is a page-turning exodus into the art world’s hall of mirrors, and one woman’s journey into the belly of an industry flooded with money and secrets.
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  • MaryBeth's Bookshelf
    January 1, 1970
    Kim Lord is a famous artist with a very controversial show about to open when she mysteriously disappears. Editor Maggie Richter finds herself sucked in to the scandal as she tries to figure out what happened to Kim, while struggling to reconcile with her own demons.I had a lot of hope for this book - set in Los Angeles, art world, scandal....but, something just didn't click with me. I could not get into the story or the characters. I am clearly in the minority as this book is winning awards lik Kim Lord is a famous artist with a very controversial show about to open when she mysteriously disappears. Editor Maggie Richter finds herself sucked in to the scandal as she tries to figure out what happened to Kim, while struggling to reconcile with her own demons.I had a lot of hope for this book - set in Los Angeles, art world, scandal....but, something just didn't click with me. I could not get into the story or the characters. I am clearly in the minority as this book is winning awards like crazy, so please take that into consideration. Every one has different experiences with books, this one just wasn't for me.
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  • Victoria
    January 1, 1970
    Make your life about the things and the people that matter to you, the ones worth saving. Keep them well and let the dead go. The dead already know their ending.A literary mystery surrounding the disappearance of an enigmatic painter set in the world of museums and galleries drew me to this story, but it was the author’s writing that kept me reading. Hummel manages to infuse the narrative with a noir quality as she exposes the underbelly of Los Angeles along with some nefarious art world collect Make your life about the things and the people that matter to you, the ones worth saving. Keep them well and let the dead go. The dead already know their ending.A literary mystery surrounding the disappearance of an enigmatic painter set in the world of museums and galleries drew me to this story, but it was the author’s writing that kept me reading. Hummel manages to infuse the narrative with a noir quality as she exposes the underbelly of Los Angeles along with some nefarious art world collectors.I once saw a painted map of Los Angeles circa 1880…The dream of a city in a valley of paradise, flanked by the sea….Over a century later, immense, overcrowded and corrupted, that’s still the Los Angeles that people fall in love with….It’s also the city where monstrous appetites meet private hopes, again and again, and devour them. Where ambition is savaged and changed to devastation…’Adding to the grit amidst the glamour is the artist’s latest work--provocative self portraits of famous murdered women--a castigation of the media’s salacious coverage and our obsession with these violent deaths. And it is in the descriptions of the paintings and the way the author makes you feel their vulnerability and, in turn, ours that lends a tension to the story while also making a point about our culture’s fascination with these victims.In each of the paintings exists a dead woman, identified by her hair, her eye color, her clothes and gestures, and also, inexplicably, Kim Lord, wearing that death, the way shamans of old donned the masks and cloaks of spirits.There is a large cast of characters all of which add to the intrigue and provide an inside look at the machinations of a museum and what it takes to put on an exhibit. Just as interesting to me was another of the author’s posits about super collectors and their influence on the art market.Despite a ponderous first half and some misgivings about a novel that (maybe) had too much to say, I’m giving it four stars because I will always champion good writing and a satisfyingly complex plot.
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  • Cindy Burnett
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsStill Lives is a fascinating read set in Los Angeles that focuses on the disappearance of an up-and-coming artist right before the opening night of her exhibition. The book is significantly darker and more grim than I usually tolerate, but the originality of the plot and the subject matter kept me reading at a furious pace to find what was going to happen next. Maggie Richter works as an editor at the Rocque Museum and has mixed feelings about Kim Lord’s exhibition, self-portraits of Lo 4.5 starsStill Lives is a fascinating read set in Los Angeles that focuses on the disappearance of an up-and-coming artist right before the opening night of her exhibition. The book is significantly darker and more grim than I usually tolerate, but the originality of the plot and the subject matter kept me reading at a furious pace to find what was going to happen next. Maggie Richter works as an editor at the Rocque Museum and has mixed feelings about Kim Lord’s exhibition, self-portraits of Lord dressed up as famous, murdered women including Nicole Brown Simpson, the Black Dahlia, and numerous others. On a professional level, Maggie is uncomfortable with the subject matter and the fact that the art work itself has drawn a lot of criticism; on a personal level, Kim Lord currently dates Maggie’s ex-boyfriend Greg who Maggie still misses. While the subject matter of the book is dark, Hummel’s deft and careful handling of the graphic elements of the story lessened the gruesomeness and allowed me to focus on Kim’s disappearance and the craziness of the modern art world.I highly recommend Still Lives. I finished it weeks ago and am still contemplating aspects of the story. To me that is a sign of a fabulous book.
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  • Jessica Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    When a crime novel is set in a very specific place or time or industry, it can sometimes feel more like a gimmick than something where the story flows organically from it. But in STILL LIVES, more than any novel about art in my recent memory, the gallery and the art all feel alive and honest. Perhaps the thing that's bothered me most about novels about art and artists is the way the reader just has to accept that the art is vibrant and interesting, often it fails to appear that way on the page. When a crime novel is set in a very specific place or time or industry, it can sometimes feel more like a gimmick than something where the story flows organically from it. But in STILL LIVES, more than any novel about art in my recent memory, the gallery and the art all feel alive and honest. Perhaps the thing that's bothered me most about novels about art and artists is the way the reader just has to accept that the art is vibrant and interesting, often it fails to appear that way on the page. But the scenes depicting Kim Lord's Still Lives exhibit were actually my favorite in the entire novel. The art is vivid, the ideas expand, it is almost like going to an art exhibit yourself, and that's a really significant compliment.On the mystery/crime novel side, this is a solid entry. There are perhaps a few too many characters and subplots to juggle. Maggie's backstory, especially the way she's haunted by a woman's violent death in her past, adds depth to Maggie and the story rather than pushing those old trope buttons. The ending is not quite what I'd hoped, so much of the book deals directly and indirectly with violence against women, but that gets lost in the climax. This is more of a literary crime novel, though I did feel like there were times when the book felt more literary and times when it felt more like a crime novel and they didn't always work together the way I would like. I wanted it to be a bit more cohesive in the structure and prose, but I read it compulsively and sped through to the end so mission accomplished.
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  • Jessica Sullivan
    January 1, 1970
    “Never look for the what. Find the who. Who gets hurt. Who gains. Whose life will never be the same.”I’ve seen some reviews lamenting that this isn’t the thrilling page-turner they expected, and that’s true, it isn’t. It’s more of a slow burn noir about the LA art world, with a missing woman at the center.On the opening night of her new museum exhibition featuring self-portraits in which she depicts herself as famous murdered women, artist Kim Lord disappears.Maggie Richter, who works at the mus “Never look for the what. Find the who. Who gets hurt. Who gains. Whose life will never be the same.”I’ve seen some reviews lamenting that this isn’t the thrilling page-turner they expected, and that’s true, it isn’t. It’s more of a slow burn noir about the LA art world, with a missing woman at the center.On the opening night of her new museum exhibition featuring self-portraits in which she depicts herself as famous murdered women, artist Kim Lord disappears.Maggie Richter, who works at the museum as an editor, becomes swept up in the mystery, suspecting her colleagues and her ex-boyfriend, Greg, a gallery owner who was dating Kim.As Maggie becomes more consumed in her own secret investigation, she realizes that her own life may be in danger.This is one of those books where I enjoyed the journey more than the destination. The writing is sharp and interesting as it delves into the world of high art and muses on our cultural obsession with dead women. But the ending falls so flat and never really delivers on the provocative premise.I thought I would be giving this 4 stars for most of the book, but a disappointing finale in a book like this has to knock it down a point.
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  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
    January 1, 1970
    I'm quickly coming to realize that books about possession or art just don't work for me all that well. While this one is centered around a missing artist and the behind the scenes of where she could possibly be, the underlying world of art and what people consider art just does not interest me. At one point, I thought this was going to go in the direction of Exhibit Alexandra and I was going to be REALLY MAD about it. Thankfully it did NOT. For that I thank you, Hummel. I think this book is more I'm quickly coming to realize that books about possession or art just don't work for me all that well. While this one is centered around a missing artist and the behind the scenes of where she could possibly be, the underlying world of art and what people consider art just does not interest me. At one point, I thought this was going to go in the direction of Exhibit Alexandra and I was going to be REALLY MAD about it. Thankfully it did NOT. For that I thank you, Hummel. I think this book is more suited for those who love the art world, love a woman who is still hung up on her ex and then plays detective to try and help him since he's suspect number one... but also to satiate her own curiosity. A solid thriller but unfortunately just not really my cup of tea.
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  • Anna At A Wondrous Bookshelf
    January 1, 1970
    Everyone seems to be giving this book at least 4 stars but in reality just like art is subjective so are books. I really, and I mean, really struggled with this book at least until 60% of the story. It’s not that it is a badly written book, it was just boring and slow. The other half of the book gets a bit better but the ending did not wow me and by the time I was done with the book I was tired of reading it. I’d like to thank Edelweiss for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my hon Everyone seems to be giving this book at least 4 stars but in reality just like art is subjective so are books. I really, and I mean, really struggled with this book at least until 60% of the story. It’s not that it is a badly written book, it was just boring and slow. The other half of the book gets a bit better but the ending did not wow me and by the time I was done with the book I was tired of reading it. I’d like to thank Edelweiss for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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  • Caidyn (BW Reviews; he/him/his)
    January 1, 1970
    You can find all of my reviews here!1/5 – DNF at pg. 234 (85%)TW: mentions of graphic crimes against women and murderWell, here we are. Another DNF review from me. And I was so sure that I would like this book!The basic premise of this is that Kim Lord is an artist. She exploits people for her exhibits. This time, she exploits women who were murdered in horrible crimes. Nicole Brown Simpson, The Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, and many others. The night that her exhibit is supposed to open, she neve You can find all of my reviews here!1/5 – DNF at pg. 234 (85%)TW: mentions of graphic crimes against women and murderWell, here we are. Another DNF review from me. And I was so sure that I would like this book!The basic premise of this is that Kim Lord is an artist. She exploits people for her exhibits. This time, she exploits women who were murdered in horrible crimes. Nicole Brown Simpson, The Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, and many others. The night that her exhibit is supposed to open, she never shows up.It’s told from the perspective of Maggie Richter. Her ex-boyfriend, Greg, dumped her for Kim. Of course, he comes under suspicion. (Like all smart cops do. Look at the person closest.) The tension mounts as she doesn’t show up and isn’t found.But, the story is so boring.There was no tension. There was no intrigue. It felt, well, pretentious. I get that the art world is pretentious. Don’t get me wrong there. Modern art is some of the most pretentious shit in the world and I studied it in a class. Never again. But I don’t want my book pretentious. I could care less about an author infodumping about art and murder victims and musing about how this fictional art means something.It didn’t help that Maggie was the most boring sop of a woman I have met in a book. Well, that’s a lie. Just none are coming to mind right now. It felt like she was constantly like “Woe is me! Poor me! Poor everyone!” She was constantly in some pity party and I got bored with her.None of the other characters were interesting either. I nearly finished the book and I still couldn’t keep the characters straight. The people driving the mystery were all interchangeable. They never jumped off the page as real people for me.The plot also wasn’t interesting. Things dragged on, as I said. It kept going and going and I was tired of waiting for something to happen. It took 85% of the book to get to musing about who did it. Far too long and too late to get my attention.Now, I love true crime. I love reading about it, hearing about it. As I’m writing this review, I’m watching The Killing Season which is about The Long Island Serial Killer. I’m also thinking about listening to an episode of My Favorite Murder. I know all about these crimes. And this book seemed to be a lot about art of famous murder victims and not enough about the actual crime in the book.Definitely not for me. I don’t even know how to end this book on a good note because it was such a disappointment.
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    Praise for “Still Lives” by Maria HummelA May BOOK OF THE MONTH Selection Amazon1 of 22 New Books to Read This Summer (TIME)1 of 20 New Books to Read in June (Entertainment Weekly)1 of 30 Exciting New Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List (Buzzfeed)The above is what attracted me to “Still Lives”. The novel has gotten a lot of press, so naturally I must read it lol. “Still Lives” is a thriller set in the art scene of Los Angeles. I learned that still life paintings started because women weren’ Praise for “Still Lives” by Maria HummelA May BOOK OF THE MONTH Selection Amazon1 of 22 New Books to Read This Summer (TIME)1 of 20 New Books to Read in June (Entertainment Weekly)1 of 30 Exciting New Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List (Buzzfeed)The above is what attracted me to “Still Lives”. The novel has gotten a lot of press, so naturally I must read it lol. “Still Lives” is a thriller set in the art scene of Los Angeles. I learned that still life paintings started because women weren’t allowed to see live models. They learned how to paint looking at fruit, flowers, food, etc. The character Kim Lord is an avant-garde painter, known for her provocative art and behavior. She painted “still life” images of famous murdered women such as the Black Dahlia, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Chandra Levy. To make it more provocative, Lord herself posed in the exact same way as the murdered women were found. She photographed herself, and then she painted from the photograph.On opening night of her debut, Lord goes missing. Some think it’s just her art; she’s missing to attract more attention. Others believe she indeed is missing.The novel exposes the behind the scenes activity in an art museum. It’s interesting to learn about art collectors and the different positions of the art world. The novel is told from protagonist Maggie Richter, who is the editor of the museum. She edits all written publicity that comes from the museum. Hummel does a good job in plot twists and misdirection. What I found lacking is the Maggie Richter’s character. When the thriller starts humming along, Maggie does some unbelievable stuff that I didn’t think fit with her character. It could just be me though, as I’m in the minority on not loving the novel. It’s a decent read. The glimpse into the art world is entertaining. I don’t agree that it’s a must read.
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  • Andi (Booklovinmama25)
    January 1, 1970
    Kim Lord, a feminist icon and avant-garde figure creates her disturbing self-portraits based off of famous murdered women such as the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy and Nicole Brown Simpson. But things start turning around when Kim Lord doesn’t show up to her opening night and is presumed missing. Suspicions of her disappearance revolve around her boyfriend Greg Shaw Ferguson. With a culture that fetishes violence against women, Still Lives digs deeper into the art's world and it's darkest secrets. Kim Lord, a feminist icon and avant-garde figure creates her disturbing self-portraits based off of famous murdered women such as the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy and Nicole Brown Simpson. But things start turning around when Kim Lord doesn’t show up to her opening night and is presumed missing. Suspicions of her disappearance revolve around her boyfriend Greg Shaw Ferguson. With a culture that fetishes violence against women, Still Lives digs deeper into the art's world and it's darkest secrets. Wow...just wow!! I was completely blown away with this book but let me tell you it didn't start out that way at the beginning. Originally I was a little hesitant to read this book because it revolves around the art scene, which I'm not familiar with. Despite that, I kept reading through it because I was intrigued to know what was going on. I would have to say that it does have a slow build up, but once it starts speeding up it's so worth it! I couldn't stop reading it and 75 pages later I was like "what time is it?" I was so absorbed in the story and it ending rounded the book out as a 5 star for me. I highly recommend and was so excited when I found out it was one of May's Book of the Month choices. Thank you Counterpoint Press for giving me an ARC in exchange for my honest review!
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  • Janelle
    January 1, 1970
    Many thanks to Counterpoint Press for providing my free copy of STILL LIVES by Maria Hummel - all opinions are my own.First off, this cover is unbelievably stunning! And second, it’s a mystery with a centralized theme of art...SOLD. A feminist and artist Kim Lord is putting out a provocative new exhibition at LA’s Rocque Museum called STILL LIVES. It is a series of chilling, grisly, and eerie self-portraits paintings of the artist posing as famous murdered women, such as Nicole Brown Simpson and Many thanks to Counterpoint Press for providing my free copy of STILL LIVES by Maria Hummel - all opinions are my own.First off, this cover is unbelievably stunning! And second, it’s a mystery with a centralized theme of art...SOLD. A feminist and artist Kim Lord is putting out a provocative new exhibition at LA’s Rocque Museum called STILL LIVES. It is a series of chilling, grisly, and eerie self-portraits paintings of the artist posing as famous murdered women, such as Nicole Brown Simpson and the Black Dahlia. Kim is known for being edgy, controversial, but nobody expected her not to show up for her own opening night. As more time passes, the gallery grows concerned, even museum editor, Maggie Richter who is not exactly a fan of Kim. The main suspect is the museum’s gallerist Greg Shaw Ferguson, who happens to be Maggie’s ex and Kim’s current boyfriend.I’ve always been fascinated by stories that involve the art world and this novel nails it. A behind-the-scenes look at the LA art scene while unraveling clues in an ultra-complex mystery makes for a very compelling read. The underlying theme of the world’s macabre obsession with the exploitation of violence against women is genius and Hummel encapsulates it perfectly. Maggie is a very relatable character that I was completely invested in wanting her to succeed and enjoy life. Hummel is subtle in her writing, a keen observer, and I loved her exquisite use of words. STILL LIVES is a beautifully executed literary mystery with vivid descriptions and an impactful ending.
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  • Meranda
    January 1, 1970
    Honestly. One of the worst books I have read this year. However it is not for a lack of trying. I just couldn’t connect with any of the characters and the story never seemed to get off the ground. I was really disappointed because I was looking forward to reading this and it was a let down. I skimmed half the book just to figure out what happened at the end.
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  • Darinda
    January 1, 1970
    Maggie works in an art gallery where an exciting new exhibition is premiering. The exhibition is by Kim Lord, and includes self-portraits depicting herself as famous murder victims. On opening night, Kim is a no-show. As hours and days pass, it appears something sinister may have happened to Kim. Maggie starts asking questions, and trying to piece together what has happened to Kim. This story is told from Maggie's point of view. As Maggie looks into Kim's disappearance, she learns more about her Maggie works in an art gallery where an exciting new exhibition is premiering. The exhibition is by Kim Lord, and includes self-portraits depicting herself as famous murder victims. On opening night, Kim is a no-show. As hours and days pass, it appears something sinister may have happened to Kim. Maggie starts asking questions, and trying to piece together what has happened to Kim. This story is told from Maggie's point of view. As Maggie looks into Kim's disappearance, she learns more about her coworkers and the art gallery. There is plenty of drama and secrets, and Maggie herself has a curious past. While the characters were interesting, I never connected to them or was drawn into the story. I did find the art world to be a compelling setting for the story. A good read, but not as thrilling as I was hoping for.
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  • Ashley Murphy
    January 1, 1970
    Too many words. All over the place. And just boring. An interesting concept, but it just felt flat.
  • Nicholas
    January 1, 1970
    I really wanted to like this -- I love a good mystery -- but I just found it really unconvincing, especially the big reveals and all the details to be tied up at the end.
  • Pamela Glass
    January 1, 1970
    This book has received some bewilderingly high reviews. I was surprised at how slowly this "thriller" moved. It wasn't a difficult read by any means, and as a person with interests in art and it's strange intersection with capitalism, as well as feminism and the incredibly high numbers of acts of violence against women, it seemed like a really promising premise. Sadly, I found reading it a chore.Hummel goes into such intricate detail describing very famous murders and kidnappings, not just once, This book has received some bewilderingly high reviews. I was surprised at how slowly this "thriller" moved. It wasn't a difficult read by any means, and as a person with interests in art and it's strange intersection with capitalism, as well as feminism and the incredibly high numbers of acts of violence against women, it seemed like a really promising premise. Sadly, I found reading it a chore.Hummel goes into such intricate detail describing very famous murders and kidnappings, not just once, but repeatedly. Which would be fine if it added to the discussion a great deal, but it felt that all that description was for sensationalism and then led to some overly simplified ideas: 1) society is preoccupied with violence against women and 2) it's really common. That is all. I think it's a pretty well-known fact that a lot of women are murdered and abused. I didn't really need a novel to tell me that in gory detail.In Still Lives, we have the main character, Maggie, trying to suss out the disappearance of Kim Lord, an artist who has just studied ad-nauseum the lives of famously murdered women, and it seems neither of them thought to look into the violent parties. There is no discussion about WHY these heinous acts happened or WHO committed them. Merely that the statistics for violence against women are pretty awful. The gruesom details receive far more thought and discussion than the causes, perpetrators, or how to stop these things in future. As I slogged through the denouement, I started skimming the drawn-out decompression of the main character. There are so many long descriptions of things that don't really relate all that much to the storyline. I like metaphor, especially if it's well mixed into the action, but I felt like I was slowly trudging through commentary on how great and seedy historic L.A. is, F Scott Fitzgerald's life, and Damien Hirst's career, starving for even a crumb of movent forward in the plot. It felt bloated and boring. And this book is only 275 pages.I think Still Lives misses a lot of the deeper discussion that could and should be had about murdered women in the media. Bringing awareness to such a topic is always a positive, but if we aren't going to actually delve into what society is doing with this information, and what it means about us as a whole that we've become so desensitized it, then what's the point? Just shock value? I suppose one could argue that such shock value in a book about the obsession of exactly such shock is deeply self-reflexive, but the story simply didn't strike me as being that layered. Or if it was, it wasn't well executed.There are better thrillers out there. I can't say that I recommend this one unless you happen to not be triggered at all by violence against women, and also have a deep interest in all three: historic L.A., F Scott Fitzgerald, and the ins and outs of the business side of the art world. I will discuss the ending of the book after the spoilers tag below.***SPOILERS BELOW***(view spoiler)[ I also want to discuss the ending of this book. As Hummel mentioned the stats about violence against women, and the characters pointed to the men around them, I had a bad feeling that whoever the murderer ended up being, it would likely be a woman. Of course, women can be murderers and abusers, but the majority of violence against women is perpetrated by men. This felt like a "not all men" statement piece, and I really disliked that. As I stated before, the murderers and abusers themselves are barely mentioned, let alone discussed. But I believe each of the violent crimes that are mentioned in the book, is by a man, though I have not fact checked that myself. However, that is never discussed. That the murderer, in the end, is a jealous, rejected lover felt so boring and ridiculous. It fed into old ideas about hysterical, emotional women and didn't really have that much to do with the majority of violent crimes against women, historically. I had vaguely hoped that such a trudge would be rewarded with some interesting commentary in the end, but was disappointed to find the overarching theme seemed to be: let it go. Move forward. Not at all worthwhile. (hide spoiler)]
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  • Thekelburrows
    January 1, 1970
    A four-star thriller awarded an extra star for being feminist AF.
  • Jamie Canaves
    January 1, 1970
    A Mystery in the Modern Art WorldAn interesting read which used art to speak about violence towards women. Maggie Richter is an editor for an LA museum who is currently working with the rest of the staff to save their museum with this one, hopefully great, art show. The artist of the show is Kim Lord whose exhibit is paintings of famous crime scenes where women were murdered that she has painted herself into. The problem is Kim Lord has disappeared on opening night. I’d say the first half of the A Mystery in the Modern Art WorldAn interesting read which used art to speak about violence towards women. Maggie Richter is an editor for an LA museum who is currently working with the rest of the staff to save their museum with this one, hopefully great, art show. The artist of the show is Kim Lord whose exhibit is paintings of famous crime scenes where women were murdered that she has painted herself into. The problem is Kim Lord has disappeared on opening night. I’d say the first half of the book explores the art world and violence towards women–including how our society obsesses over the crimes–and the second half focuses on the mystery and solving it, which totally worked for me.--from Book Riot's Unusual Suspects newsletter: http://newsletters.riotnewmedia.com/2...
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  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    This suspense novel takes place in the world of art. It may sound like a strange setting but I can assure you that this is a real page turner that will have you racing to the end.Kim Lord has a new show opening at a small museum in LA. Though we never meet her in the novel, we know all about her art. Her new show depicts women who have been murdered at the scene of their murders. It's a violent unsettling show but one that has all the needed requirements to be very popular. The novel starts on o This suspense novel takes place in the world of art. It may sound like a strange setting but I can assure you that this is a real page turner that will have you racing to the end.Kim Lord has a new show opening at a small museum in LA. Though we never meet her in the novel, we know all about her art. Her new show depicts women who have been murdered at the scene of their murders. It's a violent unsettling show but one that has all the needed requirements to be very popular. The novel starts on opening night of the show but the artist never shows up. Is she pulling a publicity stunt or has something happened to her? The story is told by the central character, Maggie, an editor at the museum. Maggie gets pulled into the investigation because the main suspect, Greg, is Kim's boyfriend and Maggie's ex boyfriend. As Maggie gets pulled deeper into the investigation she begins to suspect people that she had trusted and puts her job in jeopardy.This is a real page turner that takes the reader behind the scenes in the art world.Thanks to goodreads for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Jenny
    January 1, 1970
    Still Lives takes the reader on a mystery set in the L.A. art world.A famous artist, Kim Lord, goes missing on the opening night of her exhibit, "Still Lives."The exhibit is controversial because the portraits are of famous women like the Black Dahlia, Nicole Brown Simpson and other murdered women.There is definitely a lot of buzz and talk around the exhibit. When no one can find Lord on opening night, Maggie Richter, one of the museums editors, decides to investigate for herself.Mystery, suspen Still Lives takes the reader on a mystery set in the L.A. art world.
A famous artist, Kim Lord, goes missing on the opening night of her exhibit, "Still Lives."
The exhibit is controversial because the portraits are of famous women like the Black Dahlia, Nicole Brown Simpson and other murdered women.
There is definitely a lot of buzz and talk around the exhibit. When no one can find Lord on opening night, Maggie Richter, one of the museums editors, decides to investigate for herself.
Mystery, suspense, L.A., the art world, all should add up to one great book but sadly this book falls short. It lacks the suspense and buildup of a great thriller. In a great mystery/thriller, there is an expectation of anxiety, fear, excitement and a roller coaster of emotions that the main character experiences but sadly that did not happen with our main character, Maggie.
The book had characters that were unlikeable and lacked development. There was so much potential for this book but it fell short.
#botm #thejwordpress #stilllives
You can follow my reviews on Word Press at thejwordpress.wordpress.com
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  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    (Review copy received via Edelweiss. Sampled. Included in my newsletter 15/05/18)A provocative artist disappears just as her new exhibition opens, and a young museum staffer is pulled into the mystery.Will I finish reading it? I'm really disappointed in the vibe Still Lives is giving me: it reads like chick-lit, which is fine but not what I expected or wanted. I've read two chapters and they're mostly just the protagonist mooning over her ex. Don't think I will be going any further with this one (Review copy received via Edelweiss. Sampled. Included in my newsletter 15/05/18)A provocative artist disappears just as her new exhibition opens, and a young museum staffer is pulled into the mystery.Will I finish reading it? I'm really disappointed in the vibe Still Lives is giving me: it reads like chick-lit, which is fine but not what I expected or wanted. I've read two chapters and they're mostly just the protagonist mooning over her ex. Don't think I will be going any further with this one. (Alternative recommendation for a brilliant and thought-provoking novel about art and the female gaze: Siri Hustvedt's The Blazing World.)
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  • Casey Frank
    January 1, 1970
    I was excited to see this book as a Book of the Month selection a month before the official publication date. After my box arrived I ended up reading the book in just a couple of sitting across two days as it was compelling, and a nicely compact story at a little under 300 pages.There's something about the air of the story and the amateur sleuth at the center of the story that it reminded me of Pessel's "Night Film." Maybe it's because in both books horror is at the center of art, and it comes w I was excited to see this book as a Book of the Month selection a month before the official publication date. After my box arrived I ended up reading the book in just a couple of sitting across two days as it was compelling, and a nicely compact story at a little under 300 pages.There's something about the air of the story and the amateur sleuth at the center of the story that it reminded me of Pessel's "Night Film." Maybe it's because in both books horror is at the center of art, and it comes with its own cultural ramifications. And there's the unraveling of a mysterious central woman.I was captivated by the various takes on the LA experience provided by Maggie's knowledge of the history of the area, overlapping with her opinions about the various modern day neighborhoods and experiences. I enjoyed exploring the social commentary on both the artist's and the country's macabre interest in murdered women and the way that "beautiful" women in particular seem doomed to perpetually be victims of male violence. It's a conversation that should be had more often in order to try and get to the root of it, and the use of art as a catalyst for that conversation feels like a natural platform and a potentially hypocritical one. And then there's the good ol' woman on woman hate, that has become so tired in 2018, with the newest wave of intersectional feminism doing its best to eradicate, that is still all to familiar. There are also some examples of true female support and friendship to help balance that out.There is another sub theme in the book about the worth of art and a collector's role in making an artist that felt like it didn't get quite enough attention or explanation.Overall, this was a page turner where I felt compelled to keep reading, even if I didn't always understand Maggie's choices or motivations. I felt like I was willing to suspend my disbelief about how she interacted with people, her sudden decisions compared to her muddled indecisiveness, in order to learn more about the central mystery.
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