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All booksMysteryStill Lives
Still Lives by Maria Hummel

Still Lives

Early Release
This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait 'til next month to read it.

by Maria Hummel

Quick take

In this twist on the classic art heist, it's the artist—and not her paintings—that goes missing.

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Why I love it

Sarah Bedwell
BOTM Readers Committee

In 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.

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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 womem—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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Member thoughts

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All (4867)
Love (944)
Like (2865)
Dislike (1058)
5046 ratings
  • 19% Love
  • 57% Like
  • 21% Dislike
  • Murfreesboro , TN

    This book is a great choice if you like little “WHAT?!” Moments. I couldn’t put it down until I found out what had happened to Kim Lord. The author created a great twist but also ended it with closure

  • Buffalo, NY

    I never would’ve called myself a fan of the mystery genre but I’m so glad I took a chance on this book. This book will keep you thoroughly invested till it’s satisfying and thought-provoking ending.


    If you’re an artist or have ever worked in a museum (or just love the art world), this mystery is a great one. It’s so spot on to my experiences with art and was such a quick read that I sped through!

  • Apex, NC

    I really enjoyed this novel! It's set in LA in the Roque Museum which exhibits artist's works of art. However, on the opening night of Kim Lord's work...she's a no show. Where is she? Fascinating!

  • Dublin, OH

    This book was so thought provoking about how we as a society think about women, and it really showcased how even people who consider themselves feminists still judge women in a position of influence.

  • Danville, CA

    I can not say enough good things about this amazing book. Tense, striking, truthful feel of LA life and museum culture (I’ve lived it), not to mention the grisly mystery in the center of it. Great.

  • Hickory Hills, IL

    A real millennial-feminist Dan Brown-like novel with great vivid imagery. The story is quick and follows a clear path, but isn't predictable. More believable than most suspense mysteries of its kind.

  • Olympia, WA

    It took me a while to get into the book, but once I did I read it in one sitting. When it ended I was immediately hungry for more. This book reignited my love for a good mystery and I'm glad for that.

  • Houston, TX

    Still Lives featured a crime that kept me interested and guessing until the end. Hummel's writing style was intriguing and beautiful, with attention to detail apt for a novel set in the world of art.

  • Los Gatos, CA

    Written in equal parts as a love letter to the LA of past and present day, a critique on the glorification of violence in the media and an interesting look at the modern art scene, it keep me hooked!

  • Vincennes, IN

    Fascinating exploration of the roles and exploitation of women in art and society. Strong, well-developed, and realistic female characters was refreshing because there are still too few in fiction.

  • Amarillo, TX

    I enjoyed the insight into the city of L.A. as well as the details and descriptions of the Art world while trying to crack this mystery. Loved & learned every minute! Round of applause for feminism!

  • Largo, FL

    I fell out of reading for a few months, and this was the perfect book to get me back into it. I couldn't put it down! A couple eye roll moments mixed into the mystery but man...this was delightful!

  • Lafayette, IN

    Seamlessly offered: inside look at the art world, a statement about violence towards women, a journey thru heartbreak, & some old fashioned sleuthing by someone who tried to leave sleuthing behind.

  • Kissimmee, FL

    Still Lives is a look behind the curtain of the art world as well as an interesting and captivating 'whodunnit' that manages to not only touch on art and sleuthing but the fascinating history of LA.

  • Bosque Farms, NM

    The setting, the LA modern art scene, was original and thought provoking. Put together with the mystery, it was a very good book. The ending was a little cheesy, but getting there was a delight.

  • West Point, NY

    This book easily captures the readers attention and the build of the various characters is interesting. There are surprises along the way, which encourage the reader to consider their perception.

  • Chicago, IL

    This is a great book with lots of twists and turns. I loved the blending of art with a mystery and the author did a great job incorporating the history of the artist and meaning behind her art.

  • Hagerstown, MD

    Loved it. The topic was a bit hard for me to read as quickly as I usually do, but it wasn’t a chore in any way. A gripping whodunnit mixed with all too real life societal and media commentary

  • Providence , RI

    I finished this book right away. Loved it! Very interesting point of view as it takes place in an art gallery and had some interesting underlying critiques of the world of modern art. Thumbs up!

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