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Lesson in Red

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A companion to Still Lives—a Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine selection—this savvy thriller exposes dark questions about power and the art world and reveals the fatal mistakes that can befall those who threaten its status quo. Brenae Brasil is a rising star at Los Angeles Art College, the most prestigious art school in the country, and her path to art world celebrity is a A companion to Still Lives—a Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine selection—this savvy thriller exposes dark questions about power and the art world and reveals the fatal mistakes that can befall those who threaten its status quo. Brenae Brasil is a rising star at Los Angeles Art College, the most prestigious art school in the country, and her path to art world celebrity is all but assured. Until she is found dead on campus, just after completing a provocative documentary about female bodies, coercion, and self-defense. Maggie Richter's return to L.A. and her job at the Rocque Museum was supposed to be about restarting her career and reconnecting with old friends. With mounting pressure to keep the museum open, the last thing she needs is to find herself at the center of another art world mystery. But when she uncovers a number of cryptic clues in Brasil's video art, Maggie is suddenly caught up in the shadowy art world of Los Angeles, playing a very dangerous game with some very influential people.


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A companion to Still Lives—a Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine selection—this savvy thriller exposes dark questions about power and the art world and reveals the fatal mistakes that can befall those who threaten its status quo. Brenae Brasil is a rising star at Los Angeles Art College, the most prestigious art school in the country, and her path to art world celebrity is a A companion to Still Lives—a Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine selection—this savvy thriller exposes dark questions about power and the art world and reveals the fatal mistakes that can befall those who threaten its status quo. Brenae Brasil is a rising star at Los Angeles Art College, the most prestigious art school in the country, and her path to art world celebrity is all but assured. Until she is found dead on campus, just after completing a provocative documentary about female bodies, coercion, and self-defense. Maggie Richter's return to L.A. and her job at the Rocque Museum was supposed to be about restarting her career and reconnecting with old friends. With mounting pressure to keep the museum open, the last thing she needs is to find herself at the center of another art world mystery. But when she uncovers a number of cryptic clues in Brasil's video art, Maggie is suddenly caught up in the shadowy art world of Los Angeles, playing a very dangerous game with some very influential people.

30 review for Lesson in Red

  1. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    This follow-up to Still Lives, which I really enjoyed, continues to examine dynamics of power, fame, and talent in the art world. This time, a young and promising art student has killed herself - or was it murder? Comparing this latest novel and Still Lives as if they were paintings, Lesson in Red is far more abstract. Like Hummel’s previous novel, the writing is lovely, and the sense of mood and place are great. As a love letter to Los Angeles and its art, this book really works. Unfortunately t This follow-up to Still Lives, which I really enjoyed, continues to examine dynamics of power, fame, and talent in the art world. This time, a young and promising art student has killed herself - or was it murder? Comparing this latest novel and Still Lives as if they were paintings, Lesson in Red is far more abstract. Like Hummel’s previous novel, the writing is lovely, and the sense of mood and place are great. As a love letter to Los Angeles and its art, this book really works. Unfortunately though, its abstraction makes it fall a bit short as a mystery, which most readers (myself included) will expect to have a certain thrilling structure. I agree with other reviewers too that the book has far too many characters, many of whom do not end up mattering much to the story. It is always a pleasure to read Maria Hummel, and I will pick up any book she writes. However, I would have liked for this book to contain a bit more of the traditional mystery thrills and chills, as Still Lives did. I had a bit of a tough time getting invested in the central mystery, though I loved the many descriptions of the LA art world and its denizens. 3.5 stars with thanks to Counterpoint Press, the author and NetGalley for the ARC. I recommend this author, but would recommend you pick up Still Lives first.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    3.5 stars This review was first posted on Mystery and Suspense. Check it out for features, interviews, and reviews. https://www.mysteryandsuspense.com/le... Lesson in Red is the sequel to Still Lives, which focuses on 28-year-old Maggie Richter, a copy editor/publicist for the Rocque Museum in Los Angeles. The Rocque is an avant-garde gallery that hosts controversial art exhibits, such as one featuring every artist deemed offensive by a powerful politician. During the grand opening of Kim Lord's ex 3.5 stars This review was first posted on Mystery and Suspense. Check it out for features, interviews, and reviews. https://www.mysteryandsuspense.com/le... Lesson in Red is the sequel to Still Lives, which focuses on 28-year-old Maggie Richter, a copy editor/publicist for the Rocque Museum in Los Angeles. The Rocque is an avant-garde gallery that hosts controversial art exhibits, such as one featuring every artist deemed offensive by a powerful politician. During the grand opening of Kim Lord's exhibit called Still Lives, about female murder victims, the artist is killed. Maggie helps investigate and becomes very disturbed as she helps private detective Ray Hendricks track down the perpetrator. As Lesson in Red opens, Maggie is taking a break from her job at the Rocque while she recuperates from the Kim Lord ordeal. In fact Maggie is thinking of quitting the museum and becoming a freelance journalist. So Maggie is intrigued when wealthy museum founder Janis Rocque..... .....asks her to write a story about 22-year-old Brenae Brasil, a Los Angeles Art College (LAAC) graduate student who allegedly committed suicide. Brenae was an up-and-coming video artist who made a well-received film called Packing, which documented the week she spent carrying a loaded gun on her person 24/7 - to campus, to the grocery store, to the bathroom, to meals, to bed. Later, Brenae was killed with the gun, and police investigators determined it was a self-inflicted wound. Janis Roque isn't so sure though. Before Brenae died, she sent Janis a copy of an unreleased film called Lesson in Red, in which Brenae is having sex with a man whose face is obscured. In a voiceover, Brenae observes she's being coerced by the man, who has power over her career. Janis believes the man is connected with LAAC, which has a well-known culture of giving preferential treatment to men. Janis even speculates that LAAC would cover up sexual harassment/rape, so she asks Maggie and private investigator Ray Hendricks to expose the man in Brenae's video, and to publicize the toxic environment for women at LAAC. To accomplish this, Maggie goes undercover as a gallerina at The Westing Gallery, where LAAC director Hal Giroux is mounting an exhibit called Shoe Cathedral. Brenae was one of Giroux's mentees, and his four remaining protégés - Erik, Zania, Layla, and Pearson - are doing the physical work of stringing shoes into columns and arches. The plan is for Maggie to spy on the foursome before and after they're shown Lesson in Red by Ray Hendricks, to see if they give anything away. Maggie has well-honed detective instincts as well as drive and perseverance, all of which help her discover the truth.....but not before lives are endangered. There's much more going on in the book, about the art scene in Los Angeles; the rivalry among museum directors; the trade in illegal antiquities; Ray's continuing investigation into his brother's death; and the romantic attraction between Maggie and Ray. This all adds up to an entertaining mystery that gives the reader a fascinating peek into the art world. Thanks to Netgalley, Maria Hummel, and Counterpoint Press for a copy of the book. You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com

  3. 5 out of 5

    Max

    If you're interested in reading a mystery/thriller set in the artistic landscape of LA with a more experimental writing style, Lesson In Red could be for you. I'd recommend reading Still Lives first though, but I wouldn't say it's completely necessary. What I struggled with for Lesson In Red was that it was overwhelming. Even though I did read Still Lives the summer it was published, I had a lot of issues trying to connect the dots. I had to do a lot of backtracking and considerably slow down my If you're interested in reading a mystery/thriller set in the artistic landscape of LA with a more experimental writing style, Lesson In Red could be for you. I'd recommend reading Still Lives first though, but I wouldn't say it's completely necessary. What I struggled with for Lesson In Red was that it was overwhelming. Even though I did read Still Lives the summer it was published, I had a lot of issues trying to connect the dots. I had to do a lot of backtracking and considerably slow down my pace just to make sure I was getting everything. While the writing style was refreshing and none of the suspense felt cheap, I was only really starting to get into the book when it neared its climax. I remember enjoying Still Lives, but I think this author might be hit or miss for me. Thank you Netgalley and Counterpoint.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David Gibson

    This was an unfortunate title for me. I’ve seen my feelings mirrored in a lot of other reviews because there were two huge drawbacks to this title that made me feel lost and uninspired. 1. I did not read Still Lives, and the book did a poor job of bringing new readers up to speed. I understand books like these are written for fans who want to explore the whole series, but sometimes authors can do enough to make titles stand alone within a series, this one did not. 2. The point of views are varied This was an unfortunate title for me. I’ve seen my feelings mirrored in a lot of other reviews because there were two huge drawbacks to this title that made me feel lost and uninspired. 1. I did not read Still Lives, and the book did a poor job of bringing new readers up to speed. I understand books like these are written for fans who want to explore the whole series, but sometimes authors can do enough to make titles stand alone within a series, this one did not. 2. The point of views are varied and rapidly changing. I couldn’t latch onto any character so I struggled to stay invested to the end. The book is well written and as far as I can tell it’s an incise examination of the LA art scene (though I’m not familiar with that scene). Also the narrator (as I listened to the audiobook) was effective in her narration making the characters unique. There was a sizable cast so that’s always appreciated Overall 2 stars and a title I only recommend for fans of Still Lives.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Another art thriller, you say? A companion to STILL LIVES, you say? Oh my GOD I WANT

  6. 4 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    I was reminded of William Faulkner when I read Maria Hummel’s latest art world mystery, LESSON IN RED. Both use innovative but abstruse storytelling structures. Faulkner, with his unpunctuated stream-of-consciousness; Hummel, with a chaotic narrative that lacks timelines or clearly defined characters. Both show the world through a cloudy lens, reflecting the blurred edges of real life. Now Faulkner grew on me after time and study. I suspect Hummel will too. Recommended for literary readers who a I was reminded of William Faulkner when I read Maria Hummel’s latest art world mystery, LESSON IN RED. Both use innovative but abstruse storytelling structures. Faulkner, with his unpunctuated stream-of-consciousness; Hummel, with a chaotic narrative that lacks timelines or clearly defined characters. Both show the world through a cloudy lens, reflecting the blurred edges of real life. Now Faulkner grew on me after time and study. I suspect Hummel will too. Recommended for literary readers who appreciate fresh writing styles. 3 of 3 Stars Pub Date 01 Jun 2021 #LessonInRed #NetGalley Thanks to the author, Counterpoint Press, and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    It took me a loonnnggg time to finish Lesson in Red because I got bored frequently and would put this down and pick up something else to read. But, I had to finish this before I was granted an ARC from NetGalley and it's only fair I slog through it and give an honest review. My review isn't going to be nice or pleasant, much like Lesson in Red. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** Once again, our intrepid (NOT!) protagonist, Maggie, is recruited to investigate the death of a rising artist, Brenae B It took me a loonnnggg time to finish Lesson in Red because I got bored frequently and would put this down and pick up something else to read. But, I had to finish this before I was granted an ARC from NetGalley and it's only fair I slog through it and give an honest review. My review isn't going to be nice or pleasant, much like Lesson in Red. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** Once again, our intrepid (NOT!) protagonist, Maggie, is recruited to investigate the death of a rising artist, Brenae Brasil. After the events of the first book, Maggie has returned to her childhood home to lick her wounds and recuperate but when her former supervisor entices her back to look into the death of Brasil, Maggie reluctantly agrees. As always, Maggie does everything grudgingly. It's her trademark. The author's trademark style of writing hasn't improved. Like in the first book, readers are introduced to a gaggle of artistic wannabes and hanger-ons with fancy schmancy names with little to no character development. Their voices, faces, accents, clothes all blur together into a meaningless babble that I soon stopped bothering to flip pages back to see who was who again. Scenes and locations changes with just a sentence with no smooth (if any) transition. As usual, Maggie discovers clues and helpful information purely by accident. She stumbles into meetings, sees illicit events, overhears something. She's not Nancy Drew. Heck, she's not even Jessica Fletcher. She's just lucky. And, she's still her dull, uninteresting self. The ending is anti-climatic (not that I remember it but I do remember how I felt when I read it) but, at least, I can say I finished the book. I won't be requesting the third book in this dull series.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anmiryam

    Lesson in Red is an impressive, character driven look at the kinds of corruption that fester in the art world. More than a mystery (though it is that), it focuses on Maggie Richter whose life was first upended in Hummel's novel Still Lives, and follows her as she investigates the suicide of a young, talented artist, Brenae Brasil. The ins and outs of how art is made and promoted, along with the exploration of the sexual politics in the early 2000s LA art scene are compelling, but the book is lin Lesson in Red is an impressive, character driven look at the kinds of corruption that fester in the art world. More than a mystery (though it is that), it focuses on Maggie Richter whose life was first upended in Hummel's novel Still Lives, and follows her as she investigates the suicide of a young, talented artist, Brenae Brasil. The ins and outs of how art is made and promoted, along with the exploration of the sexual politics in the early 2000s LA art scene are compelling, but the book is lingering due to how closely I became invested in Maggie's journey towards the work she needs to be doing and her sense of how that transformation forces her to leave behind a status quo that made her comfortable.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert Blumenthal

    This was a followup, or companion piece, to the author's previous novel Still Lives. It was immersed in the Los Angeles Contemporary art scene, and is very much a L.A. noir novel. Maggie, an art writer, who barely survived from the first novel, the one where the young woman artist presented a show of depictions of famous murders of women, is again trying to get to the bottom of another case involving the death of a young woman artist. Brenae Brasil has apparently taken her own life after releasi This was a followup, or companion piece, to the author's previous novel Still Lives. It was immersed in the Los Angeles Contemporary art scene, and is very much a L.A. noir novel. Maggie, an art writer, who barely survived from the first novel, the one where the young woman artist presented a show of depictions of famous murders of women, is again trying to get to the bottom of another case involving the death of a young woman artist. Brenae Brasil has apparently taken her own life after releasing a documentary involving guns. After her death, a video is discovered of her being essentially raped by someone. This is the so called Lesson in Red referred to by the title. Teaming up with the private detective from Still Lives, Ray, she temps as a gallarina at a gallery that is preparing an exhibit of the head of the art school where Brenae was a student. Maggie is to eavesdrop on the students assembling the exhibit to try to get some info on Brenae and the head of the school. This all leads to a dramatic and dangerous situation for Maggie and Ray, and the novel becomes very much of a tense thriller. The contemporary art scene in L.A. is brought under the knife here, shown to be rather unscrupulous and downright dangerous at times. Contemporary art of the kind depicted here is my least favorite form of art, for I look for more than just a message in my appreciation of art. I wasn't quite involved in the intricate machinations of the field as I might have been. Another criticism I have is that I found the story to not hold together as well as the former novel. I wasn't sure I absorbed everything, for there were moments where I questioned what was happening and why. However, there was much I liked about this novel. The concepts explored of art in general and the motivations and processes of the artists themselves were quite fascinating to me. I also liked the romantic tension between Maggie and Ray and her compassion for the young woman artist who committed suicide.

  10. 4 out of 5

    The Reading Raccoon

    Lesson in Red is a slow burn mystery centering around the suicide of emerging artist Brenae Brasil. Maggie Richter is asked to use her connections with the art scene to look into the circumstances surrounding Brenae’s death. This is marketed as a companion novel to Maria Hummel’s last novel starring Maggie Richter called Still Life. In many ways my listening experience and enjoyment suffered because I hadn’t read that book previously. There seemed to be a shorthand and relationships between char Lesson in Red is a slow burn mystery centering around the suicide of emerging artist Brenae Brasil. Maggie Richter is asked to use her connections with the art scene to look into the circumstances surrounding Brenae’s death. This is marketed as a companion novel to Maria Hummel’s last novel starring Maggie Richter called Still Life. In many ways my listening experience and enjoyment suffered because I hadn’t read that book previously. There seemed to be a shorthand and relationships between characters that I was missing and therefore I couldn’t quite get what was going on. I also felt like the art scene was too exclusive and specific for me to relate to or to feel immersed in the mystery. I did enjoy the descriptions of Los Angeles and the author’s writing style but I didn’t find it to be a gripping mystery especially once it came to a conclusion. This is a well written (and well narrated audiobook) but I recommend reading Still Life first. I’m not sure if that would solve the dilemma of this being a mystery with not a lot of tension and excitement to it but would probably give the background on the characters needed. 3 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️

  11. 5 out of 5

    Susan Walker

    Interesting read about Art Schools and mystery.. I learned a lot from this read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Doreen

    5/26/2021 More profound but less poetic than Still Lives. Full review tk at CriminalElement.com. 5/26/2021 More profound but less poetic than Still Lives. Full review tk at CriminalElement.com.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

    While not quite living up to its captivating precursor, Still Lives, a Lesson in Red (nice hat-too to Sherlock Holmes) is still an engaging mystery/thriller that you enjoy tagging along for the ride. Even slightly darker given the content of our victim’s art portfolio. We see our previously known characters again as their collective and individual stories abs relationships progress which does allow the reader to become more invested in everything happening. And it’s all still a mystery until The While not quite living up to its captivating precursor, Still Lives, a Lesson in Red (nice hat-too to Sherlock Holmes) is still an engaging mystery/thriller that you enjoy tagging along for the ride. Even slightly darker given the content of our victim’s art portfolio. We see our previously known characters again as their collective and individual stories abs relationships progress which does allow the reader to become more invested in everything happening. And it’s all still a mystery until The very end as we follow our heroine on her undercover investigation. I will definitely recommend this book to mystery and suspense lovers, especially if they have read the previous story, though one doesn’t have to in order to enjoy this one

  14. 5 out of 5

    Poptart19 (ren)

    3 stars A sordid tale of r*pe, assault, abuse, manipulation, suicide, & murder, & how wealthy & powerful men get away with it. The plot is improbable, but still engaged me. The prose is decent. I feel ambivalent about the characters. [What I liked:] •Hah, I really love what happened to the shoe cathedral sculpture!! •I enjoyed the setting of the art school, art gallery, & art museum world. It was interesting to read about. •Hal was an unfortunately all too believable character, from his egoism to h 3 stars A sordid tale of r*pe, assault, abuse, manipulation, suicide, & murder, & how wealthy & powerful men get away with it. The plot is improbable, but still engaged me. The prose is decent. I feel ambivalent about the characters. [What I liked:] •Hah, I really love what happened to the shoe cathedral sculpture!! •I enjoyed the setting of the art school, art gallery, & art museum world. It was interesting to read about. •Hal was an unfortunately all too believable character, from his egoism to his prejudices, & from his cover up of r*pe culture to his later apology tour/image rehabilitation campaign. That aspect of the plot was not far fetched at all. [What I didn’t like as much:] •My fault for not reading the prequel, but the beginning of the book was confusing. It took me awhile to figure out the events of the previous book & what was happening in the present. I didn’t realize from the blurb that this was part of a series, which compounded my initial confusion. •The audiobook is overall a good performance & recording, but the narrator’s attempt at Ray’s southern accent was unsuccessful & annoying. It was basically unrecognizable as a southern accent, except the narrative mentioned it explicitly so I know that’s what the narrator was attempting. Tbh, I’d prefer no fake accent to a weirdly bad one. •Ray & the MC’s romance was rather dull & didn’t contribute to the story. They lacked chemistry, & the attraction was awkward & unnecessarily drawn out. •I didn’t connect with the MC. I didn’t buy her motivation for helping with the investigation, & she didn’t have much character development overall. •The plot, especially the drugging & escape, had some hard to believe moments. CW: r*pe, molestation, physical assault, murder, suicide, non consensual drugging [I received an ARC ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for the book!]

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shannan Schoening

    Reading this book without realizing that it was a follow up to the author’s Still Lives was very confusing for me, as there was a lot of mention of Kim Lord, a deceased character from the previous book. I kept reading to discover how it all tied together, but there was no resolution because it was in the last book! The main character, Maggie, was somehow involved in Kim’s death, and is now drawn in by the suicide of another young artist, Brenae Brasil. Lesson in Red follows copy editor/journalis Reading this book without realizing that it was a follow up to the author’s Still Lives was very confusing for me, as there was a lot of mention of Kim Lord, a deceased character from the previous book. I kept reading to discover how it all tied together, but there was no resolution because it was in the last book! The main character, Maggie, was somehow involved in Kim’s death, and is now drawn in by the suicide of another young artist, Brenae Brasil. Lesson in Red follows copy editor/journalist Maggie’s quest to understand Brenae’s final mysterious videos and determine if there was something more sinister behind her death. Meanwhile, we get a glimpse into the LA art world and all of its players, which is overwhelming. So much that there is a cast of characters listed at the beginning for reference (which I frequented). I really liked the writing and the character’s appearances, expressions, and artwork were so descriptive I felt immersed in the scene. The end wasn’t anything explosive like many thrillers, but sometimes I appreciate a more realistic conclusion. There was a lot going on in this book and I think some of the characters and plot lines could be left out, but Brenae’s “lesson” was still poignant and shined through. Thank you to Counterpoint Press for the chance to read and review this novel!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi

    This is the second book in this highly entertaining, art world series and I highly recommend it. The audio version had an excellent narrator with a nice glow and it was easy to follow along. The art world scene is fascinating and Hummel is an excellent writer. Many thanks to Netgalley, HighBridge Audio and Maria Hummel for my complimentary e-copy ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joann Im

    An enthralling companion to Still Lives once again delves into the art world's dark side. Maggie Richter returns to Los Angeles and to her job at the Rocque Museum to restart her career and life. However, she is approached by her boss Janis, private detective Ray and Alicia assigning Maggie with an assignment to investigate the death of Brenae Brasil, a rising artist. Throughout this ordeal, Maggie grapples with her career and the drive for Brenae's voice to be heard. Maria Hummel does an excepti An enthralling companion to Still Lives once again delves into the art world's dark side. Maggie Richter returns to Los Angeles and to her job at the Rocque Museum to restart her career and life. However, she is approached by her boss Janis, private detective Ray and Alicia assigning Maggie with an assignment to investigate the death of Brenae Brasil, a rising artist. Throughout this ordeal, Maggie grapples with her career and the drive for Brenae's voice to be heard. Maria Hummel does an exceptional job in shining the cataclysmic use of power and sexual politics that interplays heavily in the art community. She explores the vulnerability in women and the portrayal of women's bodies and the effect of one's self-defense. As the readers immerse into Maggie's investigation and Brenae's video artwork, without straying from the storyline Maria Hummel delivers a keen analysis and with nuance in the corruption on biases towards patriarchy and the exploitation in the art community. The characters lack development but the thematic premise is intriguing to keep the readers invested to continue. Also readers whom enjoyed Still Lives will appreciate this sequel. A canny and thought-provoking thriller contradicting the glitz and glamour by immersing into the shadowy society of the arts. Thank you to NetGalley and Counterpoint Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Saner

    Maria Hummel's Lessons in Red is a companion to Still Lives. This LA-based mystery occurs in the art scene of the early 2000 and focuses on how sexism and the desire to keep power and control the narrative and voice shape art and society. Protagonist Maggie Richter, an inspiring journalist who works for the Rocque Museum, is recruited to investigate the death of a rising artist, Brenae Brasil. Along the way, she grapples with her career, trying to save the Rocque and working to ensure Brenae Bra Maria Hummel's Lessons in Red is a companion to Still Lives. This LA-based mystery occurs in the art scene of the early 2000 and focuses on how sexism and the desire to keep power and control the narrative and voice shape art and society. Protagonist Maggie Richter, an inspiring journalist who works for the Rocque Museum, is recruited to investigate the death of a rising artist, Brenae Brasil. Along the way, she grapples with her career, trying to save the Rocque and working to ensure Brenae Brasil's voice is heard. In the end, I enjoyed this story. As I didn't read Still Lives, there were a few times I found myself wondering about the backstory. My guess is would be I would have a more detailed understanding of Maggie, her team at the Rocque and Ray, her quasi love interest, if I had read Still Lives first. The beginning was slow to start, and I found myself putting it down for other reads often. However, once I got into Maggie going undercover, things got more interesting. While the characters are not as in-depth as I would have liked, they did show the ups, downs, and struggles of budding artists. I found the female artists to be the most captivating as they inserted themselves in a male-dominated art scene. The controversy of Brenae Brasil's art and death reflected all the female characters' pain and determination. It shows us that when it comes to sexism and patriarchy, our stories are different and intertwined together.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    This companion novel to Maria Hummel's "Still Lives" draws the reader into the complicated interplay between personal relationships, status, and power in LA's contemporary art scene. The author's skillful scene-setting and introduction of characters ensured that even without having read "Still Lives," I eased into the story's "world" without difficulty. This wasn't a page-turner for me; the writing was smarter than an airport thriller's prose can be. I wanted to savor the language and spend time This companion novel to Maria Hummel's "Still Lives" draws the reader into the complicated interplay between personal relationships, status, and power in LA's contemporary art scene. The author's skillful scene-setting and introduction of characters ensured that even without having read "Still Lives," I eased into the story's "world" without difficulty. This wasn't a page-turner for me; the writing was smarter than an airport thriller's prose can be. I wanted to savor the language and spend time with the characters as much as I cared about solving the mystery. Now, off to read "Still Lives"!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Levens

    Lesson in Red Author, Maria Hummel Publisher: CounterPoint Press, Pub date: June 1, 2021 Audiobook Publisher: Highbridge Audio Narrator: Hillary Huber, Length: 10 hours, 6 minutes ~ A companion to Still Lives- a Reese's book club, Hello Sunshine selection- this savvy thriller exposes dark questions about the art world and reveals the fatal mistakes that can befall those who threaten its status quo. ~ Brenae Brasil is an aspiring, young artist who attends the prestigious Los Angeles Art School, mentore Lesson in Red Author, Maria Hummel Publisher: CounterPoint Press, Pub date: June 1, 2021 Audiobook Publisher: Highbridge Audio Narrator: Hillary Huber, Length: 10 hours, 6 minutes ~ A companion to Still Lives- a Reese's book club, Hello Sunshine selection- this savvy thriller exposes dark questions about the art world and reveals the fatal mistakes that can befall those who threaten its status quo. ~ Brenae Brasil is an aspiring, young artist who attends the prestigious Los Angeles Art School, mentored and learning alongside some of the art world's finest. After completing a most provocative documentary about sexual coercion, manipulation, helplessness, and self- defense, she is shockingly found dead on campus. Editor Maggie Richter, our main character from Still Lives, returns to LA to restart her career and begin a new chapter in her life. However, she is asked by her boss from the Rocque Museum, Janis, to pair up with Ray, a private detective, whom she met during the Still Lives Kim Lord's murder, to learn more about Brasil's death and to understand just what exactly is transpiring within this dark art world. Unwillingly at first, Maggie and Ray uncover several clues that ask, was Brasil's death a suicide? And if so, what may have led to this end? Their covert investigation leads down a few dangerous paths with ties to several influential people within this twisted art world that may endanger Maggie and Ray if they go poking around where their attention is unwelcome. Together they attempt to unravel this mystery and hope that they can pave the way for Brasil's story to be told. I do recommend reading Still Lives first as there were initially many references and relationships from the first book that will make more sense as you read Lesson in Red. Hummel's thrilling mystery encompasses sexual politics that will leave you wondering which characters you can and cannot trust and is also a suspenseful novel about the art world, culture, and the vulnerability of women, and how they are consequently treated and portrayed within this glamorous world. I listened to Lesson in Red that was fabulously narrated by Hillary Huber and was amazed at how well she captured the characters and flawlessly read Hummel's satisfying mystery. I want to find out what else Huber narrates! A 5 star audio review! Difficult content: rape, physical assault, suicide Thank you Highbridge Audio, Maria Hummel, and NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to Lesson in Red read by Hillary Huber on audio, an e- ARC!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joyce Hamel

    Not Gripping and Not Interesting…. I am disappointed after reading the convincing reviews of her first book and the promotions for this new mystery. I have been a reviewer for years and have read many novels that lose the connection among the characters which negatively impacts the plot and the denouement. The confusion in this book begins from the first page. The author bounces back and forth from geographical settings and then introduces countless characters with little introductions. Who is Er Not Gripping and Not Interesting…. I am disappointed after reading the convincing reviews of her first book and the promotions for this new mystery. I have been a reviewer for years and have read many novels that lose the connection among the characters which negatively impacts the plot and the denouement. The confusion in this book begins from the first page. The author bounces back and forth from geographical settings and then introduces countless characters with little introductions. Who is Erik? What does Ray do for a living? What is the purpose of Layla? The story involves the death of Brenae Brasil, an emerging star at LAAC, Los Angeles Art College, a prestigious art school. The main protagonist Is Maggie Richter, who returns to the West coast for her job at the Rocque Museum. She finds herself involved in the sordid life of many video artists, including the victim. We are introduced to Brenae’s work when, for some reason, her video of Packing (as in a gun) is shown to a group. It is shocking but her later “death” video is ultra-disturbing. Right from the beginning, I thought I missed a few chapters when all these characters and action scenes took place without any prologue. There are no timelines. Scenes happen, new characters appear and motives come and go, Maggie is a journalist by trade but seems to be at a crossroads. She has many friends, or so it appears, and yet, she is a loner. There are so many characters, you really need a scorecard. Most of them have “baggage,” but, after all, it is California, and the art scene. 1.5 stars My gratitude to NetGalley and Counterpoint for access to this pre-published book for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    John B

    I read Still Lives last summer and was excited to get my hands on an ARC for Lesson in Red. I was not disappointed. This author does not deliver your usual run-of-the-mill dishy thrillers, but digs into our cultural obsessions with fast-paced plots. The pageturner aspect isn't fluff and empty suspense--it serves a purpose and you'll think about these books for a lot longer than you expect. In Lesson in Red, the story centers around a student named Brenae Brasil, who was found dead at an art scho I read Still Lives last summer and was excited to get my hands on an ARC for Lesson in Red. I was not disappointed. This author does not deliver your usual run-of-the-mill dishy thrillers, but digs into our cultural obsessions with fast-paced plots. The pageturner aspect isn't fluff and empty suspense--it serves a purpose and you'll think about these books for a lot longer than you expect. In Lesson in Red, the story centers around a student named Brenae Brasil, who was found dead at an art school, and what lead up to her death. Thematically, there's a lot going on in Brenae Brasil's tale--from my own experience, the contemporary art market has gotten way out of whack and most people have no idea how today's art schools can make or break a young artist. Maggie Richter is back, but more diligent and less emotional, and the way her relationship with Janis Rocque plays out had some interesting twists. There are a lot of characters but they're part of the world that makes this series unique. I definitely recommend reading Still Lives first.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mackey

    Lesson in Red is a sequel or more of a companion book to Hummel's previous novel, Still Lives. Basically, Lesson in Red picks up where Still Lives left off and continues the story. Having just finished Still Lives this worked perfectly for me especially since I wasn't finished with the characters, I wanted more and the author delivered. Still set within the framework of the L.A. art world, Lesson in Red envelops an art school as well the murder of Ray's brother. I was conflicted about this aspec Lesson in Red is a sequel or more of a companion book to Hummel's previous novel, Still Lives. Basically, Lesson in Red picks up where Still Lives left off and continues the story. Having just finished Still Lives this worked perfectly for me especially since I wasn't finished with the characters, I wanted more and the author delivered. Still set within the framework of the L.A. art world, Lesson in Red envelops an art school as well the murder of Ray's brother. I was conflicted about this aspect of the book because there simply was too much to take in all at once. Two murders, so many characters, although the author does provide a "cast of characters" at the beginning of the book, too many details that overlap one another and yet.... the book is amazing. At the end, I was exhausted but I loved it. I'm not sure I understood all of the entanglements but I enjoyed reading it and would do it all again. Hummel writes intelligent books with wry, witty humor that I'm not sure is for everyone but I really like the challenge. It's nice to be pushed out of the comfort zone, isn't it?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

    After thoroughly enjoying Hummel's first novel and the world it developed for readers, I was excited to dive into another opportunity to inhabit that world. While a solid mystery, this novel suffers from too many characters and not enough time spent with them to engender any deep investment in their outcomes or understanding of their motivations. I feel like there wasn't enough room for the characters or plot to breathe, but the upside to that is that the plot moves along quickly and keeps your After thoroughly enjoying Hummel's first novel and the world it developed for readers, I was excited to dive into another opportunity to inhabit that world. While a solid mystery, this novel suffers from too many characters and not enough time spent with them to engender any deep investment in their outcomes or understanding of their motivations. I feel like there wasn't enough room for the characters or plot to breathe, but the upside to that is that the plot moves along quickly and keeps your attention, even if you're not necessarily buying the motivations of some of the characters. Some sequels can be read as standalones, but I would highly recommend reading Still Lives first to wring the most out of this second entry. Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the advanced reader's copy provided in exchange for an unbiased review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    I really thought I was going to like this one when I first started it because it seemed like it was going to be a fast-moving thriller. However, this didn't really play out as a thriller and was more of a slow-burn mystery but the mystery really didn't even feel like the focus of the book. It includes a lot of details about art that were interesting but should have added to the story, but it almost felt like the unnecessary level of detail distracted the reader from the actual plot. This was als I really thought I was going to like this one when I first started it because it seemed like it was going to be a fast-moving thriller. However, this didn't really play out as a thriller and was more of a slow-burn mystery but the mystery really didn't even feel like the focus of the book. It includes a lot of details about art that were interesting but should have added to the story, but it almost felt like the unnecessary level of detail distracted the reader from the actual plot. This was also hard to follow because there were SO many characters, many of whom it didn't seem like had an actual purpose for being included and didn't actually contribute to the plot or have any impact on the story. This just fell really flat for me unfortunately. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this advanced copy in exchange for a review. The book is now out and available for purchase. 3/10

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    Hummel's fans will no doubt be pleased to see a second outing for Maggie Richter and another indictment of the art world in Los Angeles. However, if you, like me, missed Still Lives, you might find yourself pulling at straw. The writing doesn't help. The basic premise that Maggie is charged with investigating why a Brenae Basil, a young female artist committed suicide is a good one- there's clearly something wrong at the Los Angeles Art College. Problem was that I never felt strongly about Brena Hummel's fans will no doubt be pleased to see a second outing for Maggie Richter and another indictment of the art world in Los Angeles. However, if you, like me, missed Still Lives, you might find yourself pulling at straw. The writing doesn't help. The basic premise that Maggie is charged with investigating why a Brenae Basil, a young female artist committed suicide is a good one- there's clearly something wrong at the Los Angeles Art College. Problem was that I never felt strongly about Brenae. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Wasn't for me but loves of literary fiction might give it a try.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrea A

    My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for this audio. **Note**: this is a companion to Still Lives. Events mentioned in this book from Lives, but a separate story. Brenae Brasil is a popular art student in Los Angeles Art College who films her suicide. Why? Maggie Richter comes to the coast for a museum joband is thrown into the investigation of Brenae's death and the dark art world. I have to say this was not a favorite. I was expecting more focus on the Brenae story. This got all over the pla My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for this audio. **Note**: this is a companion to Still Lives. Events mentioned in this book from Lives, but a separate story. Brenae Brasil is a popular art student in Los Angeles Art College who films her suicide. Why? Maggie Richter comes to the coast for a museum joband is thrown into the investigation of Brenae's death and the dark art world. I have to say this was not a favorite. I was expecting more focus on the Brenae story. This got all over the place. Too many characters and jumping around in story components. Good narrator, but a challenge.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Megan Williams

    A very interesting read. I didn't realize it was the second in a series(?) about the Los Angeles Art world with Maggie Richter. Her career at the Rocque Museum had been derailed in the previous book but she is back trying to get back on track and connect with old friends. She finds herself caught up in another mystery as much as she doesn't want to. The writing is great. The characters wonderful and the setting is fascinating. I need to read the first book. A very interesting read. I didn't realize it was the second in a series(?) about the Los Angeles Art world with Maggie Richter. Her career at the Rocque Museum had been derailed in the previous book but she is back trying to get back on track and connect with old friends. She finds herself caught up in another mystery as much as she doesn't want to. The writing is great. The characters wonderful and the setting is fascinating. I need to read the first book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Rating: 2.5 I didn't read the Still Lives first and I think that was a mistake. I didn't really understand or care about the characters or the relationships between them. Maybe you can still enjoy it without reading the first book, but I don't recommend it. Especially if you're interested in reading the first one at all, because this will spoil it. The narrator of the audiobook wasn't terrible, but if bad southern accents bother you, I wouldn't recommend it. Rating: 2.5 I didn't read the Still Lives first and I think that was a mistake. I didn't really understand or care about the characters or the relationships between them. Maybe you can still enjoy it without reading the first book, but I don't recommend it. Especially if you're interested in reading the first one at all, because this will spoil it. The narrator of the audiobook wasn't terrible, but if bad southern accents bother you, I wouldn't recommend it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paulette Ponte

    This book was a follow up to Still Lives although it can be read alone. Maggie works at an art gallery but actually wants to be a journalist. The death of an upcoming artist reunites her with a detective involved in a murder in Still Lives. Maggie gets involved in the investigation and had her chance to do what she yearns to do. There's a lot about art and how difficult it is for artists to develop their talent and the need for sponsors and a appreciation for their work. This book was a follow up to Still Lives although it can be read alone. Maggie works at an art gallery but actually wants to be a journalist. The death of an upcoming artist reunites her with a detective involved in a murder in Still Lives. Maggie gets involved in the investigation and had her chance to do what she yearns to do. There's a lot about art and how difficult it is for artists to develop their talent and the need for sponsors and a appreciation for their work.

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