A young editor at a Los Angeles art museum finds herself pulled into the strange and disturbing world of a famous artist who goes missing on the opening night of her exhibition
Kim Lord is a giant in the Los Angeles art scene: avant garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur. And her new exhibition "Still Lives" is expected to be just as groundbreaking. Comprised of self-portraits depicting Lord as famous, murdered womenthe Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Roseann Quinn, and many othersthe works are as compelling as they are disturbing, implicating a culture that is too accustomed to violence against women. As L.A.'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 big enough to save the historic institution's flailing finances.
Except Kim Lord never shows up to her own exhibition.
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.
As bright and blinding as the Los Angeles sunlight, Still Lives is a page-turning exodus into the art world's hall of mirrors, one woman's journey through the belly of an industry filled with money, secrets, failure, and genius.
Praise for Motherland:
"…deeply researched, painstakingly written, and, above all, heartfelt." New York Times Book Review
"Hummel's focus on the concrete, physical experiences of one family is a fine, brave antidote to abstraction, and does what good historical fiction does best: explores what has passed in those undocumented rests between the things we know to be true." San Francisco Chronicle (Named a Best Book of the Year)
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
MARIA HUMMEL is the author of the poetry collection House and Fire , winner of the 2013 APR/Honickman First Book Prize, and two novels: Motherland (Counterpoint, 2014) and Wilderness Run (St. Martin's, 2003). Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Poetry , New England Review , Narrative , The Sun , The New York Times , and the centenary anthology The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine . A Stegner Fellow, she taught at Stanford for nine years. She lives in Vermont with her husband and two sons, and teaches at the University of Vermont.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
MOMOBOOKDIARY REVIEW I was drawn to this novel by the fantastic brightly coloured cover and the blurb. It is also worth noting that this was also Reese Witherspoon's August Hello Sunshine Book Club pick! It is a mystery centred around the contemporary art scene and I found this a new and interesting setting. Still Lives is a murder mystery thriller set in Los Angeles. The author gives us plenty of surprises and has the reader quickly immersed in the story. I found it a very intriguing thriller with an easy to follow storyline and interesting characters. There is a deeply chilling aspect to the book which I found disturbing at times but carried on reading... I would recommend this book to those who enjoy murder mystery thrillers which are a bit different from the majority out there! Thank you to Quercus Books for the opportunity to read and review this novel.
The book has good imagery with the descriptions of Kim Lord's paintings and does a good job of making you curious about the real murders and want to look them up. But the book's main "message" was criticizing the media for sensationalizing violence against women and the voyeuristic gaze of the media consumers so I felt that the book sort of entices people to do just that while also using those crimes as a plot device. Also, I just don't buy the ending. I'm not convinced. Maybe there are some bits that I missed or didn't pick up on, but the ending seems forced to me.
Still Lives by Maria Hummel is a recommended mystery concerned with who might be responsible for an artist's disappearance. Maggie Richter, the staff editor at Los Angeles’s Rocque Museum, is attending the opening gala for avant-garde artist Kim Lord's latest show. Lord's self-portraits feature paintings with Lord posed as famous murdered women. Maggie wanted to avoid attending because Lord's boyfriend, Greg Shaw Ferguson, is Maggie's ex. To make matters worse, Greg left Maggie for Lord. However, when Kim Lord is missing from her own opening gala, something is amiss and the search is on for the controversial artist. When Greg becomes the prime suspect, Maggie begins a low key investigation into Lord's disappearance and the suspects. The novel works because of Hummel's careful descriptions of the various characters and their concerns. While Lord's show may disgust many of them, they are all ambitious and concerned over the success of the museum and keeping their place in the art world of Los Angeles. Maggie uses her place as an insider along with her training as a journalist to fuel her investigation. The novel does have a very slow start and it takes a while for the pace to pick up and for Maggie's investigation to begin. The writing is good, but I was surprised Still Lives was chosen as a Book of the Month. Perhaps this is because I had a couple issues with it. It is a good novel, but not quite that good. Maggie is the narrator, so you get to read many of her thoughts in descriptions, etc. I'll admit right now I had a problem with some of these since they demeaned other people. For example: "Evie in the cheap gray pantsuit and white blouse of a supermarket manager." Really? Why not just say a cheap suit? Why describe it as connected with someone's job - someone who likely doesn't wear a cheap suit? And why have Maggie, as a character, even think of this if she comes from a modest background? And this is just one example. While the big hook is that the novel is about the "media's fetishistic fascination with the violent murders of beautiful women," I never really felt that was the focus. Lord's art dealt with it and it was discussed in the context of her art work, but in reality a statement was never definitively made. The famous murders were discussed - but I began to feel that Hummel was taking their murders and using them as a plot device to pull in readers. A "message" novel doesn't guarantee a 5 star novel. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Counterpoint Press.
Wordy without getting to the point.
Cannot believe something so poorly written would be published and was part of the ridiculous Book of the Month Club. Readers beware....impossible to cancel without losing money!