Still Lives

Still Lives

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 t...

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Title:Still Lives
Author:Maria Hummel
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Still Lives Reviews

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    Unfortunately, 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.

    Greg SHAW Ferguson, or I guess I should just call him

    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,

    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.

    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,

    . 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.

    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?

    Suspect #1 Greg

    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

    happy.

    I want to thank Megan Fishmann and Counterpoint Press for supplying me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Diane S ☔

    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.

  • Victoria

    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

    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.

    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.

    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.

  • Elyse Walters

    “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 boyfriend

    opens 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 boyfriend

    opens 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.

  • Paromjit

    Maria Hummel immerses us in the art world of Los Angeles, a corrupt city of dreams and ambitions, mythic in its glamour and legendary in its violence in this Noir thriller. Kim Lord is returning to the contemporary art scene after 1o years away, with a controversial but arresting exhibition of still lives portraits of famous murders of women such as Nicole Brown Simpson, Chandra Levy and the Black Dahlia. Kim Lord herself portrays each murder victim, some see this as beyond good taste, part of t

    Maria Hummel immerses us in the art world of Los Angeles, a corrupt city of dreams and ambitions, mythic in its glamour and legendary in its violence in this Noir thriller. Kim Lord is returning to the contemporary art scene after 1o years away, with a controversial but arresting exhibition of still lives portraits of famous murders of women such as Nicole Brown Simpson, Chandra Levy and the Black Dahlia. Kim Lord herself portrays each murder victim, some see this as beyond good taste, part of the movement for the commodification and consumption of female homicide victims. The opening night at the struggling Rocque Museum is heaving with the rich and famous, art critics and the press, all desperate to meet the feted guest of honour, Kim Lord. As Kim fails to appear, there is a increasing sense of unease and palpable undercurrents, with speculation rife, is it a publicity stunt? Or has something far more sinister happened?

    Maggie Richter is the museum editor, struggling to get over the break up of her relationship with Greg Shaw Ferguson, and carrying a haunting burden of the murder of a source that led to her giving up her fledgling career in journalism. Kim Lord's boyfriend was Greg, and he becomes the prime suspect for the police. Maggie has no reason to help Greg, but she is convinced he is innocent, driving her to look into the life of Kim Lord, those involved with the Rocque Museum, and the art world. An ambivalent Maggie looks for answers in Kim's self portraits as the dead women, looking for a stalker, observing varied off kilter behaviours as she searches for motives for killing the prominent artist. Her world becomes increasingly claustrophobic, worrying and paranoid as she delves into the world of the super collectors and the rise of the artificial artist, the rich and art dealers manipulating the art world for financial gain where the artist is irrelevant. Her life begins to disintegrate around her as she begins to get an inkling of the truth.

    Maggie is a fascinating protagonist, for she is, of course, a suspect herself as the woman still in love with Greg, she has motive. She continues to try and find out what happened to Kim despite so many telling her to drop it, that it is too dangerous with a killer loose. However, Greg and the sense of unfinished business with the death of a source in her past will not let her give up, she remembers the advice of her journalist mentor which help to guide her present day investigation. The shady art world, with it's symbiotic relationship between the artist, dealer and collector is driven by money with most transactions happening behind closed doors. Hummel writes a chilling and compelling mystery amidst the background of the LA art world that is depicted with detail and authenticity. Maggie's a multi-faceted character, a bundle of contradictions, having to deal with her feelings for Greg, and find out who murdered Kim, a woman she has had antagonistic feelings towards. One of the highlights of the novel is Maggie's changing and deeper personal connection with Kim and her growing appreciation for her art. A great and gripping read. Many thanks to Quercus for an ARC.

  • Jenny

    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

  • Larry H

    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

    , 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

    , 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

    , or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at

    .

  • Maxwell

    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.

  • MaryBeth's Bookshelf

    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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