Today on the blog is a book that I’m part of a social media tour for! This book being Still Lives by Maria Hummel.
So, what’s the book all about? Here’s the blurb:
Kim Lord’s face looked back at me, disguised in paint and the features of a murdered woman.
Revered artist Kim Lord is about to unveil her most shocking show yet: Still Lives, a series of self portraits in which she impersonates the female victims of America’s most famous homicides, from Nicole Brown Simpson to the Black Dahlia.
As celebrities and rich patrons pour into L.A.’s Rocque Museum for the opening night, the attendees wait eagerly for Kim’s arrival. All except Maggie Richter, museum editor and ex-girlfriend of Greg Shaw Ferguson, Kim’s new boyfriend. But Kim never shows up to her party and the crowd’s impatience slowly turns to unease.
When Greg is arrested on suspicion of murder, it seems that life is imitating art. Has Kim suffered the same fate as the women in her paintings? As Maggie is drawn into an investigation of her own, she uncovers dark and deadly truths that will change her forever…
If I’m being honest, this book has divided me. On one hand, I enjoyed it and loved it but the other hand, I didn’t like it and thought it was a tad too predictable a lot of the time. But let’s focus on the positives for now, shall we? I think this is an interesting premise. We’ve all read a murder mystery/psychological thriller, and we also know how hard it is to carve a new path into that genre. Still Lives gives a brand new premise to that genre with the form of art. Yes, art. Art is a massive theme in this book, if not, the biggest theme, in the book. What I really found interesting was the use of the artwork from Kim Lord and the importance of them. I thought this was a really interesting premise and created a deep root within the book. I think I’d describe this book as an ‘art-noir’ and I think this is the book’s biggest selling point.
Hummel is a brilliant writer, especially with her characters. I thought the characters were one of the strongest parts of the book. In the novel, we are in the eyes of Maggie, and I think she’s a brilliant narrator. Can we trust her? Is she hiding something? The supporting characters were also brilliant, my favourite being Yegina I think. She was my favourite character, she was hilarious, witty and memorable. For me, characters are the most important factor in a murder mystery. We have to care about them, we have to not like them, but like reading them. I would have liked to have some more information about Kim Lord as I felt that wasn’t touched on that much but I do get that was kind of the point, this mystery surrounding Kim Lord.
There were a number of passages in the book that I loved, this one being one of my favourites:
… what happened between us still mystifies me: how two lovers can move to a city, and the city itself wraps around them like vines, pulling them apart, pushing them toward others, until they become so entwined in their separate lives that they no longer recognize what they once felt, or even who they once were.
This is a very slow-burn novel and I think a lot of people would like this sort of style. But for me, it was just a tad too slow. There were moments of promise but it just fizzled out… when reading it, I had a lot of the same vibes from JP Delaney’s Believe Me. If you enjoyed that book, I think you would enjoy this book. It’s slow, and not a massive action-packed psychological thriller, it’s rooted in character more than anything.
This book was also part of Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book club! Reese Witherspoon! I’m sure she has even bought the film rights for the book too. I think this book is made for the big screen. It was an interesting premise, full of great characters, a wonderful insight into the art world but it just didn’t work for me overall. It’s a great read if you love a slow-burner mystery in the Autumn nights.
A massive thank you to Ella at Quercus Books for my copy and the chance to be part of the tour! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour:
Have you read Still Lives yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
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