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Book Review: ‘The Lock Artist’

August 02, 2019 by Abigail Bostwick

Eighteen-year-old Mike, not having uttered a word since just the age of 8 following an undisclosed traumatic tragedy, is a genius. A dangerous one — with the ability to open any lock he encounters without a key. Be it a locked door missing a key, padlocks without combinations, safes with no discernible point of entry, Mike can figure them and open them all.

It’s a dangerous talent.

The talent draws attention from dangerous crowds. With lock and safe-cracking ability unrivaled by any other, the young adult is a hot commodity. Mike enters a world of crime. With no family, no close friends and difficulty obtaining employment with his muteness — it’s a trade he can manage. And one that is almost impossible to leave.

Only Mike can’t stand the life. At his heart, he is not a criminal. 

At last, Mike sees an opportunity to escape. He’ll take a risky gamble for the one person he ever loved, and return to a life he can endure. 

Mike is an excellent thief and a criminal, but it’s his backstory and his character which shape a main protagonist the reader wants to see succeed and escape. 

While Steve Hamilton’s “The Lock Artist” is, at its core, a thriller/mystery like his other award-winning crime Alex McKnight series novels, “The Lock Artist” is primarily a character-driven novel. Hamilton’s prose is page-turning and vivid — both descriptive and detailed as well as to-the-point and direct. A conversation with the reader that keeps questions ongoing and one always needing to know what is going to happen next. The pacing is on par with a typical action/thriller novel, yet scenes are not basic punch-kick-repeat. The events are not boring, yet leave the reader on the edge of their seat. 

“The Lock Artist” was the winner of the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Novel.

“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.” 

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