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The Lock Artist PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: The Lock Artist
Author: Steve Hamilton
Publisher: Published January 5th 2010 by Minotaur Books (first published December 29th 2009)
ISBN: 9780312380427
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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"I was the Miracle Boy, once upon a time. Later on, the Milford Mute. The Golden Boy. The Young Ghost. The Kid. The Boxman. The Lock Artist. That was all me. But you can call me Mike." Marked by tragedy, traumatized at the age of eight, Michael, now eighteen, is no ordinary young man. Besides not uttering a single word in ten years, he discovers the one thing he can somehow "I was the Miracle Boy, once upon a time. Later on, the Milford Mute. The Golden Boy. The Young Ghost. The Kid. The Boxman. The Lock Artist. That was all me. But you can call me Mike." Marked by tragedy, traumatized at the age of eight, Michael, now eighteen, is no ordinary young man. Besides not uttering a single word in ten years, he discovers the one thing he can somehow do better than anyone else. Whether it's a locked door without a key, a padlock with no combination, or even an eight-hundred pound safe ... he can open them all.  It's an unforgivable talent. A talent that will make young Michael a hot commodity with the wrong people and, whether he likes it or not, push him ever close to a life of crime. Until he finally sees his chance to escape, and with one desperate gamble risks everything to come back home to the only person he ever loved, and to unlock the secret that has kept him silent for so long.  Steve Hamilton steps away from his Edgar Award-winning Alex McKnight series to introduce a unique new character, unlike anyone you've ever seen in the world of crime fiction.

30 review for The Lock Artist

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Safe-cracking is an ART, and 18 year old Michael is a tumbler-aligning Picasso. Unfortunately, this talent has made him an extremely valuable commodity to some rather dangerous folks. Further complicating Michael's very unusual life is that he hasn’t uttered a single word for more than ten years, ever since he was traumatized by a singularly horrific event that he experienced at the tender age of 8. Michael’s journey in The Lock Artist is told in the first person as he writes his story down in Safe-cracking is an ART, and 18 year old Michael is a tumbler-aligning Picasso. Unfortunately, this talent has made him an extremely valuable commodity to some rather dangerous folks. Further complicating Michael's very unusual life is that he hasn’t uttered a single word for more than ten years, ever since he was traumatized by a singularly horrific event that he experienced at the tender age of 8. Michael’s journey in The Lock Artist is told in the first person as he writes his story down in prison, where he is serving time for…[uh, uh…no spoilers]. Michael’s story jumps around via multiple flashback threads, as he slowly unveils his history, his innerness, and the events that led him to his current state. Michael's two "unusual" personality quirks (i.e., his natural ability and his unnatural silence) make him a unique character in crime fiction, and the exploration of these two aspects was very impressive and stood out to me. Despite having read many books in which the skill of lock-picking is deployed, never had I seen the process explored in the detail in which it is rendered here. Michael’s sensual, almost sexual, descriptions of the process are mesmerizing. The sound of the tumblers, the subtle tensions of the springs, the feel of the serrated pins and the drug-like high of ultimately “breaking through”…simply superb. In addition, the revelation of THE EVENT that left our main character unable/unwilling to speak is exceedingly disturbing and intense. Hamilton does a wonderfully balanced job of conveying authenticity while depicting the unimaginable brutality of Michael’s past. His description of the day Michael’s life shattered has stained my long term memory, and I would anticipate similar reactions from most people reading it. It's just one of those sticky on the mind events that don't come along often in reading. While the above two aspects were superb, the balance of the story is also good and certainly should please fans of the crime genre who are looking for something a little more character driven. The writing is good, the story has an authentic feel and there are some interesting supporting characters within the narrative’s population. So why only 3 stars? Well, it is really more like a strong 3.5 stars. I just couldn’t bring myself to give it four because, as good as the story it, I never really connected with the main character except for the portions of the book involving the lock picking and the tragedy. While a solid, well drawn character, Michael never truly pulled intensive his story, and that made for a bit of a distanced read. I didn’t have a huge stake in what happened to him at the end, and that removed some of the suspense and emotional resonance. Still, a good solid read with some very unusual and worth-while components. 3.5 Stars. Recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Stiefvater

    Wow, am I ever on a reading roll. Considering I normally adore fewer than ten novels in a year (about one in six or seven of the books that I read), it seems impossible that I should find another novel I adore so soon after reading Where Things Come Back. But I adored The Lock Artist. Those of you who read my review of Where Things Come Back will remember that I was longing for a book about guns and helicopters and magic, but found Things instead. Turns out that The Lock Artist was the book I wa Wow, am I ever on a reading roll. Considering I normally adore fewer than ten novels in a year (about one in six or seven of the books that I read), it seems impossible that I should find another novel I adore so soon after reading Where Things Come Back. But I adored The Lock Artist. Those of you who read my review of Where Things Come Back will remember that I was longing for a book about guns and helicopters and magic, but found Things instead. Turns out that The Lock Artist was the book I was looking for then. Well, if you substitute “safes” for “magic.” Basically, it’s about a teen with a dangerous talent: picking locks and cracking safes. He gets tangled up with some dangerous people and dangerous things happen. Did you catch that? It is danger x 3. Here, without further ado, are five more things about the book. 1. Even though it is a thriller/ mystery/ action-adventure, it’s very character-driven. Our main character (the thrillingly named “Mike”) has been silent since the age of eight, when Something Terrible Happened to Him. And by silent, I mean Quiet As The Dead And Not Like a Zombie Novel But Like a Novel Where the Dead Really Don’t Make Noise Because They Actually Are Dead. And by Something Terrible, I mean Something I Thought I Had Guessed Because I Have Read A Million Books But Actually No It Was Not That It Was Worse. Mike doesn’t speak. At all. It’s remarkable to watch how Hamilton manages this narrator who can only tell stories in his head. 2. The pacing. There is something magical going on with the pacing in this novel, and I need to go back and take it apart slowly and methodically to figure out exactly how Hamilton did it. It’s a page turner, but . . . not like that. Ordinarily I’m quiet bored by action sequences. Right, gun, sure, kick, yep, punch, okay, blood . . . are we done here? I want to get back to the plot, and action scenes are often like sex scenes — they are just hanging there, an exclamation point on the end of a sentence that we’ve already read. But, somehow, not with this novel. I HAD to keep turning the pages, yes, but not because of the action. It was because every page left me with a question, and I had to turn the page if I ever wanted to find out the answer. It meant that instead of my usual racing through an action novel, flipping pages faster and faster, I was reading with the same care and urgency at the end as I was at the beginning. I don’t know how to describe it any better than that. 2(b). The prose. This really is sort of in line with the pacing. When I first began reading the novel, I thought, man, this prose is so — easy. It just says what it says. Well, okay, whatever. I’ll just read a few more pages. And then, the next thing I knew, four hours had gone by and I’d finished the novel and I was hugging my Nook to my chest. The prose became utterly invisible. Like a very good thief, it got in, did its job, and got out, without leaving any trace of itself. I can appreciate just how hard it is to write a book that reads so easily. Well done, Hamilton. 3. Girl. You know these things always have a token girl. The one that makes the hero look noble and powerful and hetero. Well, this book also has a girl, but she is smart and unique and felt like a person. There was no thumping of chests and conquests. There was just a really wonderful and slightly uncomfortable teen romance. With comic book, menial labor, and lock picking overtones. 4. The annoying thing about thrillers is that they so rarely pay off. They’re, well, thrilling, and then you get to the end and go, yup. Well, that happened. Next? Possibly the best thing about this book is that the second half of it is as strong as the first, if not stronger, and there is one of the most psychologically horrific scenes that I’ve read in awhile in the second half. It might have something to do with the Terrible Thing That Happened to Mike. Hamilton proceeds briskly from this Terrible Scene into the denouement, which is tense and satisfying and exactly the way I wanted the book to end. That pretty much makes this book the perfect thriller in my eyes. 5. I am not the only person who has adored this book. It is an Edgar winner (that’s a prestigious award for mystery, for you muggles out there) and it’s also an Alex Award winner, which is how I found it. The ALA Alex Award recognize adult books with high appeal to teen readers, and I tend to love their choices. If you compare the list of Alex winners over the years with my five-star-books on Goodreads, you’ll see considerable overlap. Because it’s an adult book, not a YA, I should mention that there are f-bombs and violence and all that jazz. More Guy Ritchie than Tarantino, though, for the most part. I have now managed to write a novel about this novel. If you’re looking for a book about guns and helicopters and safes, go pick it up. Or even if you’re looking for a book about guns and helicopters and magic. Because it’ll still make you happy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kemper

    How many times have I seen or read about a character picking a lock? I’m a crime/mystery fan so it’s gotta be in the hundreds. Maybe even over a thousand. It’s such a common cliché we don’t even think about anymore. A door is locked, and a character pulls out their little case with their tools and picks it . Yet this is the first story I’ve ever read that actually explains what it takes to pick a lock or open a safe. Surprise! It’s not as easy as it is in the movies, but it makes for a helluva g How many times have I seen or read about a character picking a lock? I’m a crime/mystery fan so it’s gotta be in the hundreds. Maybe even over a thousand. It’s such a common cliché we don’t even think about anymore. A door is locked, and a character pulls out their little case with their tools and picks it . Yet this is the first story I’ve ever read that actually explains what it takes to pick a lock or open a safe. Surprise! It’s not as easy as it is in the movies, but it makes for a helluva good crime novel. The book is narrated by Michael who quickly explains that he’s been in prison for years and has not spoken a word in longer than that. As a child, he survived some kind of traumatic experience that left him unable to speak even though there’s no physical reason for it. Taken in and raised by his liquor store owning uncle, Michael grows up alienated and lonely, but he gets interested in locks after playing around with a discarded one and teaches himself how to pick it. The story skips around to show us that Michael got mixed up with criminals who contact him to open safes during robberies. Eventually we learn how Michael went from a mute boy who liked to play with locks to a professional safecracker and the terrible event that left him mute. Like Mystic River or Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter this is a character based crime novel that transcends the genre. Michael has unique voice despite being speechless, and Hamilton has created a character with the best of intentions who gets in over his head with extremely bad people. It sounds silly but there’s also an incredible amount of tension built around the lock picking and safe cracking scenes where Michael is explaining his process and getting lost in mental space where all that exists is the lock he’s trying to open. This is both a great crime novel and an excellent story about a young man struggling to come to terms with his past.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. While reading this novel, I started thinking about literary devices, namely telling a story backwards: telling me who the culprit was but not who was killed and why, jumping back and forth, and then slowly explaining the details. What draw me in in the first place was not the protagonist, but the novel’s structure. Hamilton divided the narrative into chunks apparently without taking notice of events, but with an eye to narrative tension If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. While reading this novel, I started thinking about literary devices, namely telling a story backwards: telling me who the culprit was but not who was killed and why, jumping back and forth, and then slowly explaining the details. What draw me in in the first place was not the protagonist, but the novel’s structure. Hamilton divided the narrative into chunks apparently without taking notice of events, but with an eye to narrative tension and dramatic effect. Off the top of my head I can't think of many other crime novels organized in this way. Nevertheless various narrative threads in this novel are pitch perfect, as well as being able to deepen the connection between structure, protagonist and subject matter (hopping between three timelines: present day, where Michael is reaching the end of his jail time, the series of events that led him to learn how to unlock a safe and his brief history as a professional safe cracker). You can read the rest of this review elsewhere.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Melki

    An interesting and suspenseful story of a mute teenaged safecracker. The book provides such detailed intstructions on how to pick locks and open safes that I was finally able to let myself into my neighbor's house and steal those photos that he's been using to bribe... Oops. I've said too much.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bill Khaemba

    “I didn't know that once you've proven yourself useful to the wrong people, you'll never be free again.” Sometimes you just a fun book, one that will just entertain you regardless of the prose, writing style and all that jazz... I was in need for that so when I picked this up after reading so many sad stories it kind of got me in a happy  mood. It was so fascinating and the plot was so cool that it seemed like I was watching a spy thriller movie.   The perspective of the story is from a 17-year- “I didn't know that once you've proven yourself useful to the wrong people, you'll never be free again.” Sometimes you just a fun book, one that will just entertain you regardless of the prose, writing style and all that jazz... I was in need for that so when I picked this up after reading so many sad stories it kind of got me in a happy  mood. It was so fascinating and the plot was so cool that it seemed like I was watching a spy thriller movie.   The perspective of the story is from a 17-year-old (Micheal) with a special kind of gift of opening safes and it has landed him in some major trouble with some pretty nasty characters. He didn't entail things to get out of hand so he tries to explain what went down. He also has a dark hidden past that was so traumatic that he spends the rest of his days after that trauma as a mute... Yes, he doesn;t speak not once but as the reader, we get a glimpse of his deep dark thoughts.   I was so impressed with our main protagonist, I normally don't like the main character in most YA books but this one was a gem. It was a strong voice and he was so vulnerable that I was so rooting for him all the way through. Yes, he made some not so smart decisions but he was just so special and once his past came to the light the story broke me and it took a very dark turn that I wasn't expecting.  The narrative flowed so well and it kept me interested & the way the author incorporated art in the story was impressive plus I just had fun with the book and It might not be for everyone but I highly recommend it to those who love cracking safes heist stories “Somewhere in the ocean, a shark was missing its cold eyes because this man had them.”

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"

    "Mute artistic safecracker" hardly sounds like a promising profile for the main character in a thriller, but it works. There's a lot of originality here that makes this fun to read. Michael was rendered mute by a traumatic experience at age eight. Now he's in prison for a robbery gone very wrong, and he tells the story of how he ended up in his current situation. He alternates between two story lines that eventually converge (sort of). One is the story of his young life as a mute, and how he bec "Mute artistic safecracker" hardly sounds like a promising profile for the main character in a thriller, but it works. There's a lot of originality here that makes this fun to read. Michael was rendered mute by a traumatic experience at age eight. Now he's in prison for a robbery gone very wrong, and he tells the story of how he ended up in his current situation. He alternates between two story lines that eventually converge (sort of). One is the story of his young life as a mute, and how he became a safecracker ("boxman"). The second story line is about the complications of his life as an on-call boxman who is unable to speak. His two great talents are drawing and picking locks. Hence, the double entendre in the title---"Lock Artist." Get it? There are a few things that are a little hokey, but they're amusing and they move the plot along, so I didn't mind. The thing with the Coke can and the scissors that just happened to be within reach was quite a stretch, though. I liked the way the pieces all came together in the story, with his artwork becoming an important part of his communication. One more thing: You DO get to find out what happened to Michael when he was eight, so have faith. I got deeply involved in the story, then had this awful thought that I might get all the way to the end and never know the event that made him mute. I didn't see any reviews complaining of that, so I kept going, and I'm glad I did. If you don't normally read thriller/mystery stories, you might want to give this a "spin" (HA!) just for unique's sake. It's not really a mystery or a thriller in the way you'd usually think of that genre.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Scot

    This book won the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Novel of 2011 (Edgar Awards are given annually by the Mystery Writers of America). That means those in the business of writing mystery novels recognize the superior quality in this well crafted tale. I heartily concur. It jumps back and forth in time, and teaches us how to become an expert safecracker along the way. The narrator is a distinctive young man, Michael--something terrible happened to him when he was a child, before he came to live with his U This book won the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Novel of 2011 (Edgar Awards are given annually by the Mystery Writers of America). That means those in the business of writing mystery novels recognize the superior quality in this well crafted tale. I heartily concur. It jumps back and forth in time, and teaches us how to become an expert safecracker along the way. The narrator is a distinctive young man, Michael--something terrible happened to him when he was a child, before he came to live with his Uncle Lito that runs the liquor store, and since then, he has never talked again. Michael has a gift for visual recall and a talent for drawing, so art helps him cope with many of the serious life challenges he confronts, steadfastly mute. He also has a fascination for opening locks, soon demonstrated as an incredible gift for breaking into safes. A loner teen who just wants to be accepted and maybe spend some time with the girl he secretly idolizes, his luck runs to extremes--both very bad and very good. This is a gritty crime novel and the coming of-age, loss-of-innocence story of a hard knocks teenager in the late 20th century. Con man strategies, burglary techniques, and how criminal networks back then used pagers are just a few of the many useful insights it offers while it speaks to more universal themes of abuse, loneliness, integrity, and love.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Liz Nutting

    About a quarter of the way through The Lock Artist, by Steve Hamilton, I began pondering one of those meta-questions about reading: What are the qualities of a book that make you not want to put it down? That compel you to read "just a couple more pages" until you wake at 4:15 a.m. with the lights on, your glasses perched on your nose and the book stretched open across your chest? That make you willing to tote two or three extra pounds of hardcover book in your bag, despite the sore neck it caus About a quarter of the way through The Lock Artist, by Steve Hamilton, I began pondering one of those meta-questions about reading: What are the qualities of a book that make you not want to put it down? That compel you to read "just a couple more pages" until you wake at 4:15 a.m. with the lights on, your glasses perched on your nose and the book stretched open across your chest? That make you willing to tote two or three extra pounds of hardcover book in your bag, despite the sore neck it causes, on the off chance you'll be able to sneak away at lunch and read a chapter? At first glance, The Lock Artist doesn't seem to be the sort of book that inspires these kind of musings. It's not book club material; there are no author interviews and high school English class style questions at the back. I only marked one passage, on page 36, with a Post-it® flag. The prose is crisp and clean, squarely in the American crime novel tradition, though more soft boiled than hard boiled. But it didn't inspire me to re-read passages (except when I realized I'd dozed off trying not to put the book down). In a twist now so conventional it's not twisted anymore, the narrator is the criminal, not the cop pursuing him. The plot, like the prose, is not complex. The author uses a technique that often annoys me, alternating chapters between past and present to build up to The Big Reveal, by which time almost anything revealed will be anti-climatic. All the makings of a very ordinary crime thriller--that I couldn't wait to get back to, that I sacrificed sleep for, that I couldn't put down. The Lock Artist is one of those novels where all the ordinary pieces are so well done and come together so seamlessly that the result is an extraordinarily good read. The narrator, Mike, is the 17-year-old Lock Artist, a boxman, a yegg, a safecracker and pick-lock with natural talent. He is a specialist who is called in to do one thing, get through the locks and into the safe. He is also the Miracle Boy, who at 9 survived some unnamed horror that has rendered him completely mute. The novel alternates between telling the story of how Mike became The Lock Artist and telling the story of how being The Lock Artist wound him up in prison, where he is at the beginning of the story. Is he redeemed from his life of crime and relieved of the trauma that silences him? No spoilers here. Read it for yourself. One has to give some credit to Mike for making this book so gripping. He's a great character, likable, a little naive, honest despite being a thief, lacking in self-pity and stoic. His muteness allows those around him to impose their own personality on him, which he is sometimes able to use to his advantage. He does not blame anyone for his life or his own choices, and he is perhaps a bit too generous toward those who took his choices away from him. Mike is an artist in another way: He draws. He communicates to the love of his life through comic book panels that become his voice and finally allow him to tell his own story. It occurs to me that much of the book has that comic book quality (meant as a good thing; I like comic books). Each chapter, each scene contains only what is needed to convey the story, and yet the simplicity is deceptive because what is conveyed with a single line is more evocative than pages of text. Last week, The Lock Artist won the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Novel. It is well-deserved. Lately I've been disappointed in several books that have garnered awards and praise and top spots on best-of lists. This book restores my faith in the award-givers that sometimes, at least, they really do know what they're doing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Barry

    The problem of expectations – expect too much and disappointment ruins the tale. The Lock Artist appears on number of recommended or “Best” Lists and the premise, a teen-aged elective mute safecracker, sounds intriguing. It promised to be as original as Jonathan Lethem’s tour-de-force Motherless Brooklyn. Alas, this is not Motherless Brooklyn. After a promising start, by cranking up the suspense by telling that our protagonist, Mike, suffered a traumatic event as a young child and was dubbed the The problem of expectations – expect too much and disappointment ruins the tale. The Lock Artist appears on number of recommended or “Best” Lists and the premise, a teen-aged elective mute safecracker, sounds intriguing. It promised to be as original as Jonathan Lethem’s tour-de-force Motherless Brooklyn. Alas, this is not Motherless Brooklyn. After a promising start, by cranking up the suspense by telling that our protagonist, Mike, suffered a traumatic event as a young child and was dubbed the “Miracle Boy”, an event so traumatic that he never spoke again and can’t tell us even now as he relates his history. The book in the first-person voice, an unusual voice for a novel. Promising indeed. But then it all falls apart – or more accurately devolves into a by-the-numbers coming-of-age story. I call it the “American Cinderella.” High-school kid from the wrong side of the tracks struggles with quiet dignity while loud, obnoxious jocks and mean girls poke fun at him. Of course the prettiest girl notices his substance and is infinitely patient of his failings. They share a common bond of art – both are gifted artists, naturally. These might sound like spoilers. They’re not, Hamilton telegraphs the clichés. To be fair to Hamilton, they’re such worn clichés, it’s hard not to telegraph them. He alternates chapters between Mike’s high school life and his present-day problems. It’s an effective device; it helps to sustain whatever suspense is left. The criminal gang can be seen on any run-of-the-mill cable TV movie, so there’s not much of a surprise when the heist finally happens. This book is a lost opportunity. The premise is good but it’s a shame that the story wasn’t as good. I’ve read one book of Steve Hamilton’s Alex McKnight series. This series is also highly praised. I must be immune to Hamilton’s charms because the book was merely adequate in my eyes. This is not to say that he’s a bad writer. I just don’t understand all the fuss.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Petertpc

    This book blew me away. Michael is a traumatized 18 year old who hasn't spoken a word in 10 years. He is also a master lock picker with a natural gift for breaking into places. Throughout the story, told by Michael, we learn about his recent past and eventually about the horrible events of his childhood that left him unable to speak. I was shocked by how emotional the story was as I was expecting a fun crime thriller with an unusual plot. Instead, this is a powerful and sad story wrapped in the This book blew me away. Michael is a traumatized 18 year old who hasn't spoken a word in 10 years. He is also a master lock picker with a natural gift for breaking into places. Throughout the story, told by Michael, we learn about his recent past and eventually about the horrible events of his childhood that left him unable to speak. I was shocked by how emotional the story was as I was expecting a fun crime thriller with an unusual plot. Instead, this is a powerful and sad story wrapped in the cover of a crime thriller. I loved it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    SETTING: Michigan SERIES: Standalone RATING: 4.75 One of the greatest blessings for the avid crime fiction reader is to discover a series that you love. You can look forward to spending time with books that you know will appeal to you, with a new one generally published every year. Steve Hamilton had me at "hello"; I thought that the first book in the Alex McKnight series, A COLD DAY IN PARADISE, was amazing. I've eagerly gobbled up each of the entries in that series and continue to wait for more. SETTING: Michigan SERIES: Standalone RATING: 4.75 One of the greatest blessings for the avid crime fiction reader is to discover a series that you love. You can look forward to spending time with books that you know will appeal to you, with a new one generally published every year. Steve Hamilton had me at "hello"; I thought that the first book in the Alex McKnight series, A COLD DAY IN PARADISE, was amazing. I've eagerly gobbled up each of the entries in that series and continue to wait for more. The downside of falling in love with a series is that most authors want to break away from writing the same character and create a standalone. Generally, I face standalones with trepidation. I don't begrudge the author the opportunity to do something new and different; I do feel deprived of the series book that could have been written instead. Hamilton's first standalone was NIGHT WORK. Unfortunately, I didn't care for that book at all. So you can imagine that I had very mixed feelings when I started his second standalone, THE LOCK ARTIST. Thank heavens I was mistaken; the book turned out to be excellent and will likely occupy a spot in my favorites list for some time to come. As the book opens, we are introduced to Michael, a young man who has been in prison for nine years. When he was eight years old, he survived a traumatic event which led people to dub him "the Miracle Boy". One of the side effects of that experience was that Mike was rendered mute. He has not spoken a word since that time. At this point in his life, he wants to share his story; and the rest of the book is a reflection of the events that occurred in 1999 and 2000 that led him to his present situation. He is still too emotionally scarred to describe what happened to him in 1990; he feels that by describing his near past, he may at some point be able to share the root of it along the way. After the incident, Michael is raised by his Uncle Lito who has a shop in the small town of Milford, Michigan. Michael discovers that he has a real talent in opening locks, and that skill is pivotal in determining the direction that his life takes. On a lark in high school, he helps some other guys break into a house. He is the only one who is caught, and he refuses to give up the others. As penance, he has to work for the homeowner for the summer. At first, the tasks that he is assigned are very punitive. However, it is worth it all when Michael meets the homeowner's daughter, Amelia. It's a case of love at first sight. Without the ability to speak to her, they develop a way of communicating using drawings. Both are talented artists. They create a kind of graphic novel that they pass along to each other to describe their feelings and what is going on in their lives. Amelia's father is in some financial trouble. He decides to take advantage of Michael's lock picking abilities and sets him up with some dubious characters. Eventually, under the tutelage of master lock picker "The Ghost", Michael enters into a life of crime himself. Separated from Amelia and with no real future to speak of, Michael tries to find a way back to a life worth living. The only thing that kept the book from being perfect for me was the structure of the narrative. Hamilton alternated chapters between mid 1999, when Michael was in high school and developing the relationship with Amelia, and 2000, when he became involved in picking locks as a criminal career. Since the time difference was so short between the two segments, I felt it would have worked better to deliver the narrative in a linear fashion. The jumps between the two time periods were a bit disorienting. THE LOCK ARTIST is a poignant look at how deeply traumatic events can affect an individual. Hamilton doesn't treat Michael's inability to talk in anything other than the most realistic and sympathetic terms, no gimmicks whatsoever. The budding relationship of Michael and Amelia is very touchingly portrayed, and Michael's overall loneliness as a result of being mute is heartbreaking. Beyond this emotional element of the book, there is an engrossing plot being played out. The details around how to pick locks are fascinating, and the revelation of what actually happened to Michael horrifying. THE LOCK ARTIST is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I even forgave Hamilton for writing a standalone instead of another Alex McKnight book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    The Lock Artist recently won an Edgar for best novel. Steve Hamilton was in fine company for this award competing with authors Harlan Coben, Tana French, Tom Franklin, Laura Lippman and Timothy Hallinan. I hadn’t read all the nominees but the ones I did were really good so I thought Steve Hamilton’s winner should be good. It absolutely was. I really like the way Hamilton told the tale. You know right from the beginning that something horrific and violent happened to 8 year old Michael but you do The Lock Artist recently won an Edgar for best novel. Steve Hamilton was in fine company for this award competing with authors Harlan Coben, Tana French, Tom Franklin, Laura Lippman and Timothy Hallinan. I hadn’t read all the nominees but the ones I did were really good so I thought Steve Hamilton’s winner should be good. It absolutely was. I really like the way Hamilton told the tale. You know right from the beginning that something horrific and violent happened to 8 year old Michael but you don’t know what. The incident leaves Michael unable to speak. Skip ahead a few years; Michael, an orphan, and kind of an outsider in school, becomes quite popular with his classmates and others when they find out about a talent he has. Michael is able to open most any lock or safe. Soon this talent becomes of interest to some pretty shady characters and they groom Michael as a boxman, the man you go to when you need a safe cracked. Revealing bits and pieces of Michael’s tragedy, weaving back and forth from present to past and back again, kept me turning the pages to see how it would all end. The Lock Artist is first rate thriller, deserving of the award in my book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Libby

    Terrific storytelling! He sucked me right in from the beginning, and I let him. I knew I was in good hands.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    This is a story about a merman who give up his voice to an evil entity associated with his past in exchange for a life on land as a criminal safe cracker. He eventually meets a woman who identifies as a mermaid and they .... wait, no that's not right, Although... I always enjoy a good story about the perfect score/heist. This book had several of them, maybe too many. The lock picking and safe cracking scenes although interesting became repetitive and trying to get through but intriguing nonethele This is a story about a merman who give up his voice to an evil entity associated with his past in exchange for a life on land as a criminal safe cracker. He eventually meets a woman who identifies as a mermaid and they .... wait, no that's not right, Although... I always enjoy a good story about the perfect score/heist. This book had several of them, maybe too many. The lock picking and safe cracking scenes although interesting became repetitive and trying to get through but intriguing nonetheless. Where this story fell short for me is in the surroundings and character development. The majority of the book is taken place in 1999-2000, however save for pagers and lack of touch pad safes, there is no indication of being in that era. No Y2K headlines, no Maria Maria, on the radio in the background or any mention of the looming 21st century. It just doesn't feel like it. The characters are flat and interchangeable. Despite that, it's a good tale and there's a encouraging love story but the writing somewhat tedious prevented me from connecting with the main character.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    This book was slow in the beginning, but then picked up the further I read. It had an OK ending, but I may feel that way because it wasn't the ending I was hoping for.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin baschinsky

    Outstanding plot , very original

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ed [Redacted]

    I liked this book well enough I suppose. I thought the protagonist, Michael, a teenage boy with a gift for unlocking nearly everything, was a well fleshed out character though I found him to be a little too much the "reluctant safecracker" for my tastes. Michael is unable to speak since a traumatic event which is not immediately explained. This made for some realistically uncomfortable situations in the story. The author obviously thought quite a bit about the problems that would arise for someo I liked this book well enough I suppose. I thought the protagonist, Michael, a teenage boy with a gift for unlocking nearly everything, was a well fleshed out character though I found him to be a little too much the "reluctant safecracker" for my tastes. Michael is unable to speak since a traumatic event which is not immediately explained. This made for some realistically uncomfortable situations in the story. The author obviously thought quite a bit about the problems that would arise for someone unable to speak. The plot was decent enough if the reader does not spend too much time thinking about it and the twist at the end was well played but ended, I think, with a bit of an unfortunate cop out.. I very much liked the portions of the book where Michael was opening the locks, these scenes were very well done and engaging. I also liked how the story came together as the two storylines alternated chapters. I would have preferred if the story had not opened with the protagonist explaining that he was in prison. I felt that this fact took away from the suspense of the ending. All-in-All this was a worthy book, 3.5 stars but leaning towards 3.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kiwi Begs2Differ ✎

    Thriller where the protagonist is a teen unable to speak because of a traumatic domestic incident occurred when he was 8 years old. Mike discovers he has a natural talent for opening locks and safes and this fact gets him in the company of some dangerous people. The novel is told in first person and despite the fact that each chapter jumps back and forth in time, the story flows well. There’s plenty of tension with a little bit of romance thrown in. Strangely enough, this not is not marked as YA Thriller where the protagonist is a teen unable to speak because of a traumatic domestic incident occurred when he was 8 years old. Mike discovers he has a natural talent for opening locks and safes and this fact gets him in the company of some dangerous people. The novel is told in first person and despite the fact that each chapter jumps back and forth in time, the story flows well. There’s plenty of tension with a little bit of romance thrown in. Strangely enough, this not is not marked as YA, but I think it would fit the genre perfectly. It’s my very first Steve Hamilton, but it won’t be my last, 3.5 stars rounded up.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This was an interesting read. It was really well written. The premise of the plot was a great idea. The execution of that premise missed the mark by a fair amount. I listened to the audio version and the reader was also amazing.

  21. 5 out of 5

    apple

    For a character who barely utters a single word throughout the entire novel, Michael the Miracle Boy manages to completely stun me with his storytelling. I really haven’t come across a book this riveting in quite some time. Something bad, really bad happened to Michael when he was eight years old and makes him lost the ability to speak. Michael however learns to cultivate other abilities like drawing, which he is exceptionally good at … and later on, he masters the refined art of safe cracking. For a character who barely utters a single word throughout the entire novel, Michael the Miracle Boy manages to completely stun me with his storytelling. I really haven’t come across a book this riveting in quite some time. Something bad, really bad happened to Michael when he was eight years old and makes him lost the ability to speak. Michael however learns to cultivate other abilities like drawing, which he is exceptionally good at … and later on, he masters the refined art of safe cracking. The timid Miracle Boy becomes the Box Man -- The Artist The story is quite predictable and bit of a cliché in my opinion but the author perfectly demonstrated the power of prose over plot in this case. The way Michael describes his deepest emotions through the drawings really blew me away. There was this particular scene where Michael draws comic strips – He was standing at the bottom of a hole with a shovel full of dirt and an expressionless look on his dirty muddy face. A girl walks from the big luxurious house and comes to stand at the edge of the hole looking down at him. Michael stares at the girl and thinks to himself “If she asked me to, I would dig this hole to the center of the earth”. To me that’s first love at its rawest The narrator of this audiobook is hands down the best audible narrator I’ve listened to

  22. 5 out of 5

    Candace Burton

    RIP Robert Parker, and thank heavens for Steve Hamilton to write this methadone-like book for my Spenser addiction. If you like a good mystery, and by that I mean an actually mystery--not just a crime novel--complete with well-told story, you will enjoy this book. michael is the miracle boy--and the lock artist. something happened to him as a child, and although there's no physiological reason, he's left mute. this makes him the ultimate confidence man, by which i mean that if he's invited to pi RIP Robert Parker, and thank heavens for Steve Hamilton to write this methadone-like book for my Spenser addiction. If you like a good mystery, and by that I mean an actually mystery--not just a crime novel--complete with well-told story, you will enjoy this book. michael is the miracle boy--and the lock artist. something happened to him as a child, and although there's no physiological reason, he's left mute. this makes him the ultimate confidence man, by which i mean that if he's invited to pick a lock (which he frequently is) for some unsavory character (there are a few of them...), one can be pretty confident that he won't squeal on the rest of the crew. somehow hamilton manages to tie the story of how michael becomes a "boxman" for hire to how he falls in love with amelia, the sister of the guy who lives in the first house he ever broke into. this is so adroitly rendered that i literally could not stop reading the book one night until i got to a breathing point in their relationship. it's an excellent story, and hamilton doesn't give in to what could be a severe temptation to embellish with gore or teen angst. he just...tells the story. and yes, eventually, so does michael.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Angel Maxwell

    Great book. Really well written. The structure was good: going back and forth from telling the story in prison, time in high school, and the year of crime. The main character is a boy that doesn't talk after going through a trauma in early childhood, which he only reveals at the very end of the book. When the structure merges and you find out why he is so driven to open locks...it is powerful and heartbreaking. There are some really wonderful scenes. The one where he meets his first friend in ar Great book. Really well written. The structure was good: going back and forth from telling the story in prison, time in high school, and the year of crime. The main character is a boy that doesn't talk after going through a trauma in early childhood, which he only reveals at the very end of the book. When the structure merges and you find out why he is so driven to open locks...it is powerful and heartbreaking. There are some really wonderful scenes. The one where he meets his first friend in art class who asks him how to sign, "I hate everyone in this stupid town and wish they would all die." The descriptions of drawing comics to finally, finally communicate everything he's thinking of with someone. The interactions with his uncle who obviously cares, but just can't communicate regardless of how many words are used. The ending is matter of fact, and I liked that. I LOVE the final comic strip sent to him in jail- made me get teary eyed. I fell in love with the guy. Highly recommend this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    An excellent non-linear first-person narrative told by Michael -- writing from prison -- about how he grew up to become a safe-cracker, or "boxman." Each puzzle piece of the disjointed tale is interesting enough as a singular vignette, but together they fit together to form a perfect narrative. The writing is beautiful. There are powerful scenes, and tense scenes, and particularly vivid scenes -- ones I don't think I will ever forget. Michael's talents -- artistic and illegal -- are written in a An excellent non-linear first-person narrative told by Michael -- writing from prison -- about how he grew up to become a safe-cracker, or "boxman." Each puzzle piece of the disjointed tale is interesting enough as a singular vignette, but together they fit together to form a perfect narrative. The writing is beautiful. There are powerful scenes, and tense scenes, and particularly vivid scenes -- ones I don't think I will ever forget. Michael's talents -- artistic and illegal -- are written in a way that makes them at once magical and believable, and immediately able to be visualized. It is a complete success as a coming-of-age story, a heist story, a crime story, and a love story. A definite must-read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    After all the turkey and thanksgiving, I finished up The Lock Artist. The protagonist is Michael, an eighteen-year-old, mute safecracker, or what the book calls a "boxman." That's refreshingly original. Of course such a specialized job skill doesn't land you in a work cube or an office. Between dealing with the unsavory types, including his mentor "Ghost", Michael also falls in love with another student, Amelia. They relive his childhood horror rendering him a mute by drawing graphic novels. Dis After all the turkey and thanksgiving, I finished up The Lock Artist. The protagonist is Michael, an eighteen-year-old, mute safecracker, or what the book calls a "boxman." That's refreshingly original. Of course such a specialized job skill doesn't land you in a work cube or an office. Between dealing with the unsavory types, including his mentor "Ghost", Michael also falls in love with another student, Amelia. They relive his childhood horror rendering him a mute by drawing graphic novels. Disclosure: The author blurbed my first novel. I was a fan of his PI series before that, and now his standalone made for an entertaining week of reading.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    The Lock Artist was a very intriguing novel about a mute safecracker. After a traumatic childhood experience, Michael never talks again. Through a series of incidents, he uncovers a real talent, even a gift, for cracking safes. Told in an interesting first person fashion, written as an autobiography, with alternating childhood and later chapters, I enjoyed it very much. Not a whole bunch really happened, but the story was told with real style. Micheal's experiences became yours and you really pu The Lock Artist was a very intriguing novel about a mute safecracker. After a traumatic childhood experience, Michael never talks again. Through a series of incidents, he uncovers a real talent, even a gift, for cracking safes. Told in an interesting first person fashion, written as an autobiography, with alternating childhood and later chapters, I enjoyed it very much. Not a whole bunch really happened, but the story was told with real style. Micheal's experiences became yours and you really pulled for him to get on the straight and narrow.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Heather L

    This book was awesome! Just awesome. It has everything: suspense, humor, sadness, heroism. It was absolutely captivating. Michael was a great character. He was someone you could root for, feel sorry for, and also want to slap the poor kid and say "what the hell are you thinkin'?" But his actions speak volumes, all for good reason. The rest of the characters can be summed up perfectly: The good, the bad, and the ugly. I will definitely be putting more of Steve Hamilton's work on my tbr shelf.

  28. 5 out of 5

    James

    That rare but most satisfying of reads, a well written thriller with cleverly rendered characters and above all and an rarest of all a sparkling fun fresh take on all the pillars of the genre. A teenager rendered mute by a trauma in his childhood tries to deal with his love life while being exploited for his lock picking skills. Admittedly a perhaps not entirely alluring plot summary but gosh it's good stuff.

  29. 5 out of 5

    debra

    4.5This is the first book I read( listened to) by Steve Hamilton and I was really impressed. Totally kept me interested and I thought the protagonist's situation and plot different and intriguing. I enjoyed it. Sometimes audio,depending on narrator, can add to the story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    I read this for a book discussion. Much better than I expected. I started listening to it on audio, and the narrator was excellent in my opinion. I switched to the print and was able to finish quickly. I liked the main character. The shifts in time were a little hard at first especially when listening to it while concentrating on driving in the snow.

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