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Still Lives by Maria Hummel

Still Lives

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by Maria Hummel

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Quick take

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

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Feminist


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Puzzle


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Creepy



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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Why I love it

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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Member ratings (5,772)

  • Rebecca H.

    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

  • Taylor B.

    Tonawanda, 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.

  • shelby c.


    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!

  • Kit B.

    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.

  • Abby R.

    Columbus, 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.

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