This is a whip-smart mystery and a moving meditation on the consumption of female bodies all rolled into one.

READ REVIEW

STILL LIVES

When a provocative painter goes missing on the opening night of her show, a museum copywriter falls back on her investigative roots.

Kim Lord enjoys shocking her audiences, and Still Lives, her latest exhibition for LA’s high-flying Rocque Museum, is no exception. Drawing on media coverage of murdered women, Lord produces a grisly set of paintings depicting the slain forms of Judy Ann Dull, Nicole Brown Simpson, and the Black Dahlia. The exhibition is “an indictment of our culture’s obsession with sensationalized female murders,” and Maggie Richter, the museum’s in-house writer/editor, can barely stomach it—for more reasons than one. A few months earlier, her live-in boyfriend, the gallerist Greg Shaw Ferguson, left Maggie for Lord, a humiliation she’s still struggling to live down. When Lord fails to show for her big opening night, everyone suspects foul play—and Greg. But will Maggie be able to uncover what really happened in time? And who is she really trying to save by digging into Lord’s disappearance? In this taut take on noir, misogyny, and the art of responsible storytelling, Hummel (Motherland, 2014, etc.) balances the glitz and glam of the Los Angeles art world with the town tourists don’t often see, from peeling, postwar bungalows to skid row tent cities and suffering junkies. There’s a full cast of supporting characters, including Kevin, an earnest East Coast reporter covering the gala; Hendricks, a private investigator who seems to know too much about Maggie; Yegina, Maggie’s talented and ambitious best friend; and a rotating gallery of suspicious art world collectors, carpenters, curators, and crew. At times the interpersonal dramas are larger-than-life, but this literary mystery has larger-than-life ambitions, too. “I hate this artwork,” Maggie thinks, standing in the gallery, fretting about Lord’s disappearance. “I hate the abject powerlessness it projects. I hate it because it reminds me there is an end for women worse than death.” But Lord, through the careful plotting of Hummel, is determined to make you look.

This is a whip-smart mystery and a moving meditation on the consumption of female bodies all rolled into one.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61902-111-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

more