McDermid...weaves her plots spendidly. Here she manages to keep one’s interest in both investigations. She juggles them beautifully, and you don’t find yourself wishing she would leave one case and get back to the other. She is also expert at modulating the pace of her narrative. She knows that in a long novel there is a need for quiet patches when the tension is relaxed and her readers, like her characters, can pause to re-charge their batteries ... We read crime fiction for enjoyment, comfort and reassurance. McDermid provides all this. She is a writer with a clear sense of right and wrong. In tune with contemporary life, she remains also a moralist. Still Life shows that she is still at the height of her powers; it is deeply enjoyable, one of her best.
... a true page-turner ... What keeps Still Life moving...is the James Auld murder case. Karen and Daisy find themselves going down one road after another as the art world and Iain's disappearance end up being their own Pandora's boxes that keep the mystery confounding and exciting ... McDermid’s mastery of the written word and precision plotting create one of her best mysteries in recent memory. Even when the cases are wrapped up, we get hit right in the face with a bit of our own reality. Various characters seek out locations and mates to lock down with as the whispered-at pandemic is now at their doorstep, which is by far the novel’s most frightening element.
In her acknowledgements, McDermid notes her experience of writing in the 'strange half-world of lockdown,' finding sustained concentration difficult, but she has nonetheless managed to keep her detective right on target and the reader enthralled.
McDermid expertly balances the book’s multiple mysteries, giving none short shrift. Vividly sketched characters, a colorful narrative, and myriad twists keep the pages turning, despite a somewhat leisurely pace. McDermid continues her reign as queen of the police procedural.