Monday, November 19, 2018

Review: Still Lives by Maria Hummel (audio)

Title: Still Lives
Author: Maria Humel
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Published: June 2018, HighBridge, a Division of Recorded Books
Length: 9 hours 35 minutes
Source: Hoopla Digital via Library

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 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.

My thoughts: I picked this book up because it was one of Reese's Book Club pick and I'm glad I did. I find that her selections definitely have me picking up books that are definitely not on my radar and while some, like this one, fall into the genre I typically read, it wasn't one I had come across.

I always enjoy a good mystery and this book certainly gives us one. It also delves into the art world, which I am not really all that familiar with - all the art culture is quite foreign to me, so this aspect of the book was really interesting. The "Still Lives" exhibition was quite dark, already giving this book that dark tone and giving the book a thrilling aspect. It was a series of portraits in which renowned artist Kim Lord impersonates the female victims of some of America's most famous murders - Nicole Brown Simpson, Chandra Levy, the Black Dahlia. Just reading about these paintings gave me the chills!

This is a slow-burning type of mystery which I really enjoy from time to time. I liked how Maggie Richter ended up getting involved in the investigation of Kim Lord's disappearance - primarily because her ex, who happened to now be dating Kim, was a prime suspect. As Maggie starts getting deeper into the investigation, she begins to suspect everyone and she questions her relationships with all those involved.

As this was a slow-burning mystery, it does stall-out a few times. There isn't too much action, though the end does keep you guessing as to where it really is going to end up, though I did think there were a few things left up in the air. All in all, I did enjoy it and I'm really glad I picked it up. If it hadn't been for Reese picking it as her book club selection, it definitely would have passed me by! Has this ever happened to you?

Audio thoughts: I think listening to this book made all the difference for me. I love, love, love Tavia Gilbert, so of course when I saw she was narrating this book, I knew I had to listen to it. And she did such a great job with the narration! Her pacing was spot on and she did a great job giving each character their own unique voice. I really enjoyed listening to this book and am glad I went this route.


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