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Archive: Other Books > Still Lives / Maria Hummel 3.5 stars

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message 1: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3685 comments A young editor at a Los Angeles art museum finds herself pulled into the disturbing and dangerous world of a famous artist who goes missing on the opening night of her exhibition.

If you like a good mystery, have been to a gallery or two and are drawn to the allure of Hollywood and Los Angeles then you might be as gripped by this story as I was.

The author, Maria Hummel, worked for the MOCA and her experience in the art world is evident in her novel. She brings this world together for the reader in a very organic and believable way. Some readers may criticize what they interpret as a pretentiousness in this story, with the artist name-dropping and discussions of high art, but isn't that part of the real art world? Despite the many opportunities in the art scene for an unpenetrable exclusivity, I felt very much a part of this world through Hummel's narrator.

I was fully invested in the story, found most the characters likable at least enough to care what happened through to the end, but I had to shave off a star and a half because the conclusion left me unfulfilled.

Still, I couldn't deny that it was a mostly thrilling mystery set in the excitement of the art culture in LA and the beautiful LA landscape even if I wasn't completely satisfied by the ending. I felt like an insider in a world that most see only in small glimpses from the outside. And that is one of my favorite parts of reading - getting to be a part of other worlds, scenes, groups, cultures.


message 2: by Karin (new)

Karin | 7482 comments Interesting. My middle daughter is an art major, but doesn't read mysteries. I would take a gander, but if the ending is unsatisfactory it will spoil it for me.


message 3: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3685 comments I would hate to turn someone off from this book because I found the ending unsatisfying. Hummel is a good writer, concise, descriptive but not meandering and I was really drawn in and felt a part of the story.

The journey was satisfying enough that I still like the book despite the ending. There have been other books that were ruined for me because of a bad conclusion. The ending wasn't an obvious solution so for other readers that may work really well.

It clocks in at around 270 pages and is a quick read, so not a huge investment if you are on the fence.


message 4: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 3112 comments Sounds interesting, and although I'm not drawn to the allure of Hollywood, I do live in the general vicinity. MOCA has been one of several museums that I've been a member of on occasion. I'll have to look for this one. Thanks!


message 5: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3685 comments It might be more interesting to hear her call out places you know since you live there.

For me, being a Midwest girl born and raised who has been to Southern California once, I love the idea of living in the LA area and marvel at what it would be like to live in a place with no winter, certainly not winter as I know it. I definitely romanticize specifically Southern California and New York City specifically, very different from where I live, so I like to read books where I can feel like I am in those places.


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