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Lock Artist, The(CD)(Unabr.) [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Steve Hamilton
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 2010
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 closer 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.

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Review

'Never has a narrator been more eloquent, more heart breaking and more moving - and all without speaking a word... An utterly absorbing tale.9/10' PETERBOROUGH EVENING TELEGRAPH 'The talent that Steve Hamilton has developed over the course of the Alex McKnight series is in full bloom here in this daring and deeply satisfying novel.' REVIEWING THE EVIDENCE 'This reluctant safecracker is one of the most attractive, original and complete protagonists I've encountered in a lond while, in one of the most consistenly enjoyable and moving novels of the year.' MORNING STAR 'Steve Hamilton knows how to build tension - it is slow, but inexorable. The reader is given an indication of how things will shape up from the outset, but this in no way spoils the narrative - the sequence of events is compelling. LEICESTERSHIRE LIFE --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

STEVE HAMILTON attended the University of Michigan and won the prestigious Hopwood Award for writing. His first novel, A Cold Day in Paradise, won the Private Eye Writers of America/St. Martin’s Press Best First Private Eye Novel Contest. It went on to win the Edgar and Shamus Awards for Best First Novel. In 2006, Hamilton won the Michigan Author Award for his outstanding body of work. He lives in Cottekill, New York, with his wife and their two children.

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
"But He is unique, and who can make Him change?
And whatever His soul desires, that He does." -- Job 23:13 (NKJV)

Just when you thought you had read so many mysteries and crime stories that you always know what to expect from them, along comes Steve Hamilton's Edgar-winning Best Novel to show you that creativity and originality are alive and well in the genre. If you haven't read this book, you have a major treat ahead of you.

I don't want to spoil the story for you, but as the title and book cover copy suggest, the protagonist is someone who can open locks to homes, closed rooms, and safes. Many of my favorite mysteries and fictional crime stories involve burglaries. So I was excited to read this book, and I wasn't disappointed.

As gifted as he is with locks, Michael isn't so good with words. He can say them fine in his head, but his voice utters nothing. As the prologue explains, something happened in 1990 when he was eight that put Michael in the headlines as "the Miracle Boy," "Boy Wonder," and "Terror Tyke." From the beginning you'll wonder what that's all about, and that mystery unravels very slowly throughout.

The story quickly splits into three timelines that are intertwined, one describing what happened since 1990 while the other two focus on 1999 and 2000. The 1990 timeline helps you become acquainted with Michael's growing up with his uncle Lito. The 1999 story explains how he ended up on an unexpected career trajectory. The 2000 story describes his professional criminal career and includes lots of interesting details about how he overcomes locks.

Along the way, Mr. Hamilton is generous with explanations that help you understand what's going on without revealing all of the background.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, great story! Aug. 3 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books I've read for a while. The author starts in the present and then goes back and forth through earlier parts of the main character's life. Even though we're shifting back and forth, it's easy to follow because of what's happening in his life at the time. The main character is a very likeable guy which is always a plus for me. He didn't lose my attention once throughout the book and I found it difficult to put down. The only reason I didn't read it all in one day is because I couldn't stay awake.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Most people who read Steve Hamilton’s novels do so to follow the Alex McKnight detective series, but I knew nothing about either when I started The Lock Artist (2009), one of Hamilton’s two standalone novels.

I don’t remember buying it, and yet there it was, upstairs in my pile of books-to-read.

It has a beautiful cover that features a lone male character, his back turned and offering only a partial profile. He’s surrounded by the numbers and gear shapes of a combination lock, in a style that echoes Deco as it hints of noir. For me: irresistible.
I’m so glad I stumbled upon it.

The Lock Artist is the sad and startling coming-of-age story of Michael, the artist referred to in the title. It’s also a brilliant thriller. You see, Michael’s artistry is twofold: he’s an accomplished sketch artist and illustrator as well as a lock picking, safecracking savant, otherwise known as a “boxman”. It’s around this second ability that the novel unfolds.

Michael, who’s barely into his twenties when he begins narrating his story, is a beautifully drawn, deeply affecting character that the reader cares about from the first page, in spite of the fact that he’s telling his story from a prison cell.

We’re meant to root for him, not only because he’s unfailingly honest with us (his readers), but because he’s more of a victim than anyone else in his story. And in spite of the fact that he’s battered by misfortune through most of his life, he never succumbs to self-pity, but remains true to his personal moral code, and true to the woman he loves.

However, these elements aren’t what utterly captivate the reader.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Original and Interesting Aug. 11 2012
By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This interesting and intriguing story won the Edgar Award for best Novel in 2011. Michael, the protagonist, who has been incarcerated for nine years ever since the age of 18, recounts his unique life experience from his prison cell.

In the very beginning we learn Michael suffered a tragic event in his childhood the loss of both his parents in a horrific car accident. Ever since that day, his bachelor uncle who runs a liquor store took on the responsibility to raise him. From a very early age, he was fascinated with locks and how they were engineered. With this knowledge he eventually developed a rare skill and was on his way to being a safe cracking whiz. This talent soon attracted the attention of the wrong people who were more than willing to take advantage of him.

During Michael’s criminal endeavours we follow an intriguing relationship with Amelia and her family. After a break-in at their house, ensuing consequences eventually developed into a fling between two adolescents.

The story is well paced it switches back and forth between Michael’s life of crime as a young adult and his adolescence, every once and awhile we are even taken back to his early childhood. The language is extremely simple with short sentences very age appropriate for the period covered. Although the structure seems complicated at first with all the flashbacks I quickly got into the rhythm as the suspense built. This novel is full of surprises and quite entertaining however my interest did wane when things became too technical and somewhat repetitive. The main character is original, charismatic and deeply layered the rest run the gamut of personalities some are even quite memorable.

Many will find this novel somewhat original and a refreshing change as I did.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  240 reviews
125 of 136 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "For the first time I had tried to open a lock, and I had failed." Jan. 5 2010
By Luan Gaines - Published on Amazon.com
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. Honor binds Michael to his illegal commitments and a concern for Amelia, trapped in the world of her father's mistakes, a thwarted Romeo and Juliet. Traveling with fast company, Michael learns quickly that there is no honor among thieves. He may be confined by circumstances, but never succumbs to a doomed future.

Shifting between the traumatic events of the past and the challenges of the present, Hamilton reveals the effects of trauma and poverty on an innocent child, a child who is not only a survivor but a young man of exceptional courage. There are no happy endings in this tale, but an example of the human spirit in the face of adversity and the healing power of love, even in the most extreme circumstances. Shocking, poignant and provocative, this unusual story is a blend of reality and hope in an indifferent world. Luan Gaines/2010.
49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous story, wonderful writing Jan. 18 2010
By EJ - Published on Amazon.com
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.
40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamilton does it all in The Lock Artist Jan. 11 2010
By kali review - Published on Amazon.com
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.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most unique voices in recent crime fiction July 20 2010
By Elizabeth A. White - Published on Amazon.com
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.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 minutes from landing, turn off electronic devices.... March 12 2011
By Stephen Kalman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read this on my Kindle while coming back to the US from Frankfurt. I was at 92% when the announcement came on. Let me tell you, if I had a blanket, I would have been 8 years old again, blanket over my head, sneak-reading another chapter.

I almost finished it waiting for my luggage, then sat in the lobby for another 5 minutes to get it done.

Clearly, I really enjoyed this book and will be reading this author's backlist as soon as possible.

(There are plenty of other reviews to tell you all you want to know about the plot and more. I'm just saying that you should be prepared for a stay-up-too-late night or two.)
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