"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. The Lock Artist is the winner of the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Novel.
This stand-alone novel is a departure for Hamilton, who has won the Edgar for his Alex McKnight series. The book's main character, Mike, who suffered a trauma so great in childhood that it left him literally speechless, tries to confront his past by writing in prison. The novel's format embodies Mike's fragmented sense of self. His first-person narrative proceeds in fits and starts, jumping from the present day to his first professional job as a safecracker at the age of 18, to just after his trauma at age 8, to 2000, before his incarceration, and back and forth, focusing on several years, or months, or even a single day. The effect is that of a jigsaw, with both Mike and the reader trying to fit the pieces together. There's a double irony at work: although Mike skirts his trauma, he is always condemned, he tells us, to relive that day. And this master safecracker can't tumble the locks on his own mind. Intense and involving.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2009 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal Review
Mute from a childhood trauma that also left him orphaned, 17-year-old Michael discovers a natural talent for opening locks. Blackmailed by his girlfriend's father, who is in debt to some nasty people, Mike apprentices with The Ghost, an aging safecracker, and works as a "boxman" on various burglary jobs for a mysterious Detroit mobster. Narrated by Michael as he nears the end of a prison term, his tale jumps back and forth between early and later times in this peculiar career and Mike's attempts to come to terms with his abilities and his affliction. Verdict In this second stand-alone title (after Night Work), Hamilton, known for his Alex McKnight series, de-emphasizes setting and focuses on the clash between the artistic nature of safecracking and the brutality and horror that accompany such criminal activity. The unusual subject, the complicated plotting, and the conflicted narrator combine to keep the reader interested and hopeful. Of possible interest to YA collections in addition to adult mystery/thrillers. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 9/1/09; library marketing; 75,000-copy first printing.]-Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Steve Hamilton was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1961. He graduated from the University of Michigan where he won the Hopwood Award for fiction. He is the author of the Alex McKnight Mystery series. A Cold Day in Paradise won the Private Eye Writers of America/St. Martin's Press Award for Best First Mystery by an Unpublished Writer and the Edgar and Shamus Awards for Best First Novel. The Lock Artist won the 2011 Edgar Award. In 2006, he won the Michigan Author Award for his outstanding body of work. He also works for IBM. (Bowker Author Biography)