Still Lives Book Summary – A Gripping Thriller

Still Lives is a gripping thriller novel written by Maria Hummel. Set in the contemporary art world of Los Angeles, the story follows the mysterious disappearance of Kim Lord, a renowned artist known for her …

Still Lives Book Summary - A Gripping Thriller

Still Lives is a gripping thriller novel written by Maria Hummel. Set in the contemporary art world of Los Angeles, the story follows the mysterious disappearance of Kim Lord, a renowned artist known for her provocative self-portraits. As the art community grapples with her absence, the line between reality and art begins to blur.

The novel is narrated by Maggie Richter, a young editor at a prestigious art museum who becomes entangled in the investigation. As Maggie delves deeper into Kim’s life and work, she uncovers a web of secrets and deception. Through a series of unexpected twists and turns, the reader is taken on a thrilling journey that explores the dark underbelly of the art world.

Still Lives is not just a suspenseful mystery; it also delves into themes of identity, perception, and the power of art. Hummel expertly weaves together the narratives of different characters, each with their own motivations and secrets. The story raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of art and the way we perceive it, blurring the lines between fiction and reality.

If you are a fan of psychological thrillers and art, Still Lives is a must-read. Hummel’s masterful storytelling and intricate plot will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. Prepare to be captivated by this mesmerizing tale of art, mystery, and the search for truth.


Still Lives is a contemporary crime thriller novel written by Maria Hummel. Set in the art world of Los Angeles, the story revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a famous artist named Kim Lord.

Kim Lord is known for her provocative and controversial paintings, which often depict violence against women. Her latest exhibition, titled “Still Lives,” features self-portraits of herself as famous murdered women throughout history. The exhibition is meant to challenge society’s fascination with violence and the objectification of women.

However, on the opening night of the exhibition, Kim Lord goes missing. The novel follows Maggie Richter, a young editor at a prestigious art museum, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Kim Lord. As she delves deeper into the art world and investigates the people surrounding Kim Lord, Maggie uncovers a web of secrets, betrayals, and dark desires.

The novel explores themes of art, identity, and the blurred boundaries between reality and fiction. It raises questions about the commodification of art and the exploitation of women in the art industry. Through its gripping plot and complex characters, Still Lives offers a thrilling and thought-provoking exploration of the art world’s dark underbelly.

Plot Summary

“Still Lives” follows the story of Maggie Richter, a young art gallery employee in Los Angeles. The novel begins with the disappearance of Kim Lord, a famous artist known for her provocative and controversial works. Lord was scheduled to debut her latest exhibition, “Still Lives,” at the gallery where Maggie works, but she never shows up.

The police investigation into Lord’s disappearance becomes a media sensation, and Maggie becomes increasingly obsessed with finding out what happened to her. As she delves deeper into Lord’s life and art, Maggie uncovers a web of secrets and deception that lead her to question everything she thought she knew about the art world.

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Maggie’s journey takes her from the glamorous art scene of Los Angeles to the seedy underbelly of the city, as she follows a trail of clues and encounters a cast of eccentric characters along the way. As she gets closer to the truth, Maggie realizes that the line between art and reality is blurred, and that the answers she seeks may be more dangerous than she ever imagined.

In the end, Maggie must confront her own demons and make a choice that could have far-reaching consequences. “Still Lives” is a gripping and thought-provoking thriller that explores the dark side of the art world and the lengths one woman will go to uncover the truth.

Character Analysis

In the novel “Still Lives,” there are several key characters that play important roles in the story. Each character brings a different perspective and adds depth to the overall narrative. Here is a closer look at some of the main characters:

  • Maggie Richter: Maggie is the protagonist of the story and works as a curator at the Rocque Museum. She is intelligent, determined, and passionate about art. Maggie becomes deeply involved in the investigation of the disappearance of Kim Lord, an artist whose exhibition she curated.
  • Kim Lord: Kim is a famous artist whose disappearance drives the plot of the novel. She is known for her controversial and provocative artwork that often challenges societal norms. Kim’s disappearance raises questions about the line between art and reality.
  • Greg Shaw Ferguson: Greg is Maggie’s ex-boyfriend and a successful artist. He is known for his hyperrealistic paintings and has a complicated relationship with Kim Lord. Greg’s involvement in the investigation adds tension and complexity to the story.
  • Edgar Hamilton: Edgar is the detective assigned to the case of Kim Lord’s disappearance. He is diligent and persistent in his pursuit of the truth. Edgar’s investigation uncovers dark secrets and exposes the underbelly of the art world.
  • Barry Richter: Barry is Maggie’s brother and a struggling artist. He is envious of Greg’s success and feels overshadowed by his sister’s achievements. Barry’s character explores themes of jealousy and the pressure to live up to expectations.

These are just a few of the many intriguing characters in “Still Lives.” Each character brings their own complexities and motivations to the story, making for a captivating and thought-provoking read.

Writing Style

The writing style of “Still Lives” is gripping and atmospheric. The author, Maria Hummel, has a talent for creating vivid and detailed descriptions that bring the story and characters to life. Her prose is lyrical and poetic, adding depth and beauty to the narrative.

Hummel’s writing is also incredibly suspenseful and keeps the reader hooked from beginning to end. She expertly weaves together multiple plotlines and keeps the tension high throughout the novel. Her pacing is spot-on, with just the right amount of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing.

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Additionally, Hummel’s character development is superb. Each character in “Still Lives” feels fully realized and complex, with their own unique motivations and flaws. The dialogue is natural and realistic, adding depth and authenticity to the interactions between characters.

Overall, Maria Hummel’s writing style in “Still Lives” is a perfect blend of atmospheric prose, suspenseful storytelling, and well-developed characters. It is a book that will captivate readers and leave them wanting more.

Themes and Symbols

Identity and Authenticity: One of the central themes in “Still Lives” is the exploration of identity and authenticity. The novel delves into the notion of how people present themselves to the world and the masks they wear to hide their true selves. The character of Kim Lord, who goes missing, is a prime example of someone who has created a public persona that doesn’t necessarily align with her private self. This theme is also reflected in the art world, where artists often grapple with questions of authenticity and the desire to create something original.

Art and Reality: Another important theme in the book is the relationship between art and reality. The novel raises questions about the role of art in society and its ability to reflect or distort reality. The disappearance of Kim Lord, an artist known for her provocative and controversial work, blurs the lines between art and reality even further. The novel explores the power of art to challenge conventional norms and provoke a reaction from its audience.

Gender and Power: “Still Lives” also delves into the theme of gender and power dynamics. The art world, like many other industries, is often dominated by men in positions of power. The novel explores the ways in which women navigate this male-dominated environment and the challenges they face. The character of Maggie Richter, who is tasked with investigating Kim Lord’s disappearance, provides insight into the struggles and complexities of being a woman in a position of authority.

The Symbol of the Missing Artist: The central symbol in “Still Lives” is the missing artist herself, Kim Lord. Her disappearance serves as the catalyst for the plot and drives the narrative forward. Kim Lord represents the enigmatic and elusive nature of the art world, as well as the complexity of human identity. Her absence becomes a metaphor for the gaps and mysteries that exist within ourselves and the art we create.

The Symbol of the Still Life Painting: Another symbol in the novel is the still life painting. Still life paintings are often associated with capturing a moment in time and preserving it for eternity. In “Still Lives,” the still life painting serves as a metaphor for the hidden truths and secrets that lie beneath the surface. It represents the idea that there is more to a person or a situation than meets the eye, and that art has the power to reveal these hidden depths.

The Symbol of Masks: Masks are a recurring symbol in “Still Lives,” representing the various personas people adopt to hide their true selves. The characters in the novel are constantly wearing masks, whether it be in their personal lives or in the art they create. The masks serve as a reminder of the complexities of human identity and the ways in which we present ourselves to the world.

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Reception and Impact

“Still Lives” has received widespread acclaim since its release, with many critics praising its gripping storyline and thought-provoking themes. The book has been praised for its unique blend of mystery, art, and social commentary, with critics noting the author’s skill in weaving together these elements to create a compelling narrative.

The novel’s exploration of the art world and its examination of the objectification of women in media has also been widely discussed and praised. Many readers and critics have found the book’s portrayal of the art world to be both realistic and eye-opening, shedding light on the often overlooked issues within the industry.

Additionally, “Still Lives” has had a significant impact on discussions surrounding gender, representation, and the male gaze in art and media. The book’s exploration of these themes has sparked important conversations about the objectification of women in art and society, prompting readers to reflect on the ways in which women are often portrayed and consumed in the media.

The novel’s success has also led to increased recognition for its author, Maria Hummel. With “Still Lives,” Hummel has established herself as a talented and insightful writer, capable of crafting a compelling mystery while also addressing important social issues.

Overall, “Still Lives” has been widely praised for its compelling narrative, thought-provoking themes, and its impact on discussions surrounding gender and representation in art and media. The book’s success has solidified Maria Hummel’s place as a notable author, and it continues to resonate with readers and critics alike.


1. Gail, M. (2018). Still Lives. HarperCollins Publishers.

2. “Still Lives by Maria Hummel.” Goodreads,

3. “Still Lives by Maria Hummel.” Kirkus Reviews,

4. “Still Lives by Maria Hummel.” BookBrowse,

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