I’ve been gravitating towards thrillers and mysteries lately, which is kind of unusual for me. So I’ve decided to embrace it. When I saw Maria Hummel’s Still Lives on Book Outet, it immediately caught my eye.
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
(From Goodreads) 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.
In all fairness to this book, I was in a very bad mood the entire time I was reading this (unrelated to the book itself). So I wasn’t in the best place to fully appreciate anything. But I do have a soft spot for art, so I was hoping this would get me through my current slump. And it kind of did. But mostly because I forced myself to finish it for this review. But still, it was kind of fun. And I don’t think I’ve read anything like this before.
I think my favorite part of this book was the whole art concept. I think I’d actually enjoy being an editor at an art museum. (But there is no way Maggie could afford a bungalow in LA on that salary. Just saying.) But I think the idea behind Kim Lord’s show was kind of great. And really weird. It definitely sucked me in. Unfortunately, the pacing wasn’t enough to keep me engaged. The second half of the story felt a bit too slow. There were a few surprises, but they lacked the impact they could have had.
I also thought the characters felt a bit unrealistic. Granted, I don’t work in art (though I did work in theater at one point), but everyone felt like a characterization. They were all a little bit too much. I had trouble connecting with anyone, so I struggled to care about them and the story.
★★★☆☆ – Still Lives was solidly okay. It wasn’t anything mind-blowing, and I do wish the pacing was a bit quicker, but I did like it. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but if the synopsis caught your eye, it might be worth a shot.
Still Lives will be available in bookstores June 5th (order on Amazon here).
To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose Still Lives as one of your two free books.
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