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The Lock Artist: A Novel Hardcover – January 5, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312380429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312380427
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (237 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2010: Mike Smith is a "boxman." He can open any safe, padlock, or locked door without a combination or a key--a talent that lands him in prison at the age of eighteen. He spends his time writing down the story of his life because that's the only way he can share it. He hasn't spoken in ten years. Not a single word since the tragic day he became known as the "Miracle Boy." Mike is one of those unreliable narrators you can't help rooting for--a traumatized soul fighting his way back from the brink--and the mystery of his silence will have you blazing through pages. A smart, inventive thriller, The Lock Artist is packed with a standout cast of characters, plus enough safe-cracking trade secrets to tempt you to dig up that old combination lock and test your newfound knowledge. --Daphne Durham

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of this offbeat thriller from Edgar-winner Hamilton (A Stolen Season and six other titles in the Alex McKnight PI series), the book's intriguing narrator, Mike (aka the Golden Boy, the Young Ghost, the Lock Artist, etc.), confesses that a traumatic experience at age eight left him unable to speak and that he has been in prison for nine years. His strange odyssey, which hops around in time, takes Mike and his twin talents, art and lock breaking, from his Michigan home to both coasts while in thrall to a mysterious man in Detroit whom he doesn't dare cross. Propelled by an aching desire to recover his voice, Mike has brushes with the law, flirts with romance and makes alliances with criminals, from rank amateurs to consummate professionals. Along the way, Hamilton drops tantalizing clues about Mike's troubled past and his uncertain future. Readers will hope to hear more from Mike. 75,000 first printing; author tour. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Steve Hamilton is the New York Times bestselling author of both the Alex McKnight series and the standalone novel The Lock Artist, currently in film development. He's one of only two authors in history (along with Ross Thomas) to win the Edgar Award for Best First Novel and then to follow that up later in his career with an Edgar for Best Novel. Beyond that, he's either won or been nominated for every other major crime fiction award in America and the UK, and his books are now translated into twenty languages. He attended the University of Michigan, where he won the prestigious Hopwood Award for writing. He currently lives in upstate New York with his wife and their two children. Visit his Web site at www.authorstevehamilton.com.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Hamilton structures a quirky and innovative thriller around a young safecracker- or boxman- who has not spoken a word since a traumatic incident in his childhood. Raised in a rundown part of Michigan, Michael, named by the press "The Miracle Boy", finds amusement in opening locks he buys in a neighborhood antique shop. Indulging his love of drawing or spinning the chambers of the locks, Michael develops a unique skill that will prove invaluable to men who seek to exploit his talent. As Michael tells his story in chapters that alternate between the conflicts of the present and his past, from the days with comic books, drawing pads and Uncle Lido to a stint on probation, circumstances conspire to send the youth on a troubled road. Michael doesn't confide the exact nature of the tragedy that caused him to stop speaking, a fact that contributes to the mystery of his character, a young man who walks a solitary path, making the few choices available to him. And when fate delivers Amelia into his life, Michael senses his one chance at intimacy with another, a vague but promising future.

Hamilton sets his protagonist among the criminal element that exists in the underbelly of every city, the boy a talented boxman who does each job required with professional detachment and no worry of turning on his partners in crime. Considering his background and environment, Michael is a moral, conscientious young man caught in a world not of his making but requiring innate intelligence to survive. Part love story, part thriller, Michael flirts with the wrong side of the law, but only because he has no options. Hamilton builds Michael's predicament like a fortress against freedom, the opportunities for flight few and dangerous.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By EJ on January 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was just the book I was looking for. It's been awhile since I've read a book with a powerful story and excellent writing, all wrapped up into one. It's difficult to write a review without any spoilers due to the nature of how the story unfolds; however, it is centered around Mike, the lock artist, and the majority of the book covers about 2 years of his life. Mike is a criminal and doesn't deny it. But it is impossible not to root for the guy.

The book covers how he learned how to break into just about anything, and why he simply cannot walk away from doing it. It's far deeper than just a story of locks and safes and how to crack them. It also makes you realize how extremely difficult it would be to not speak for any length of time, let alone ten years. When I began the book I was dubious that Mr. Hamilton was going to be able pull off having a silent main character, but the way he approaches it is simply poetic.

There were some points in the book where I felt the detail of him opening yet another lock were repetitive and I glazed over a bit when reading those sections. This is the only reason that I did not give the book five stars. But all in all, the book includes interesting characters, a great plotline, and a little humor mixed in. I've never read a book by this author before, but I will definitely seek out others, especially since according to another reviewer his other books are much better. I am having difficulty imagining that, but I'll give the others a try for sure now.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By kali review on January 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed Steve Hamilton's Alex McKnight series....entertaining, suspenseful,and Alex is always real.
Opening The Lock Artist was fun.....something new and exciting from the author of some of my favorites....
so it could be tough to please me with this one. However, he did it and he did it great. Big suspense and
real characters, plenty of imagination, and a very unique story. If you want something that steps out of the shadows of the run of the mill thriller....still packed with intrigue and suspense...I highly recommend
The Lock Artist.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth A. White on July 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In the wake of a horrific night of violence that leaves him without his parents or his voice, eight year-old Michael Smith finds comfort in drawing and playing with locks. Though he has a natural talent for drawing, it soon becomes clear he has a preternatural talent for opening locks. At first just working with old combination padlocks, Michael eventually graduates to opening key locks with his own crude, homemade lock pick set. It's a talent that seventeen year-old Michael never considers the potential implications of until a high school prank gone wrong puts him in the position to meet the wrong people, and from that point on his life will never be the same.

Presented as the reflections of a 26 year-old Michael who has landed in jail and is contemplating the life that got him there, The Lock Artist is told in chapters that alternate between the distant past that set him on the path to becoming a safecracker and the job gone awry that led to his incarceration. The two narratives unfold on slowly converging paths before ultimately colliding in a final reveal of the shocking night of events that stole both Michael's parents and his voice from him.

Initially you may not think the technical details of lock picking and safe cracking would be that interesting, but Hamilton presents the process in such vivid, fascinating detail it makes Michael's discovery of his talents come alive. By the time you finish The Lock Artist Hamilton will have you so engrossed in the process of how locks work you'll be digging out your old gym padlock, convinced you can open it by feel.

Part part crime caper, part coming of age story, The Lock Artist is truly something special. It's a testament to Hamilton's command of storytelling that he has created in Michael, a man who doesn't speak, one of the most unique voices in recent crime fiction.
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