I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
I really liked this book. 17 year old "boxman" Mike is mute due to a traumatic experience at age 8. He's an artist and a believer in love. His package store/bar owning single uncle raised Mike, giving him the best life he could. Mike loves to draw and withdraw, and yet he seeks love and acceptance. Mike's infatuation with a girl leads him to get involved with some very scary guys, they need his talent for lock picking and safe cracking, hence the name"boxman". The forward and back flow works and the plot is compelling. The love story is dear and sometimes heartbreaking. This book just had me, it wasn't the most well written, but I really liked it.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
Very slow start through the first half of the book. Bouncing back and forth in time periods is not usually a problem, but in this case it seems to hold the whole story back - can't get the momentum going in any of the story lines. The minute details of lock opening became tedious and repetitive. Pace picked up sufficiently in the last 2-3 hours to provide a decent ending. But overall I had a hard time relating to any of the characters. The first person narration forces us to see everything through the jaded, skeptical viewpoint of the protagonist so everything seems bleak. The romance is not enough to offer any light, in fact it adds to the overall fatalistic tone. Was good enough to finish the book but not to recommend.
Wonderful story that weaves two women trying to begin careers. Generally it makes me kind of crazy following two people but this was engrossing! Very interesting bank deposit box information. My mattress seems safer than these bankers in Cleveland!
The book's name is a double-entendre, and it is a fascinating evolution of a boy from childhood trauma to young adult. He cannot speak as a result of the horrible trauma, yet eloquently narrates his thoughts as though they were his articulate speech. When you finally learn of the trauma sustained, the irony of what he does and why he doesn't speak is all the more ironic. It is an absolutely fascinating listen that I would not have experienced had it not been a "bargain" book. I now would suggest that you willingly give up a credit for this intriguing personal and "professional" study of this lock artist.
I set out to find more good mystery fiction, and turned to Audible.com's list of Edgar Awards. My first pick was a bust, a science fiction novel with little mystery to it. My second pick was a great success, Steve Hamilton's other Edgar winning novel, "A Cold Day in Paradise". So I left the Edgar list for a while and read a few other of Hamilton's Alex McKnight novels, and they're all very good. This book is my third pick from among the Edgar winners.
Somewhere in the first hour or two I went back to my Audible.com library to see if I had made some sort of mistake, clicked the wrong book or something. Nope, there it is, Steve Hamilton, The Lock Artist.
I would not have guessed it was the same author as the one who wrote the McKnight books. Hamilton appears to be out to appeal to a young-adult audience. The protagonist Michael is youthful, a teenager in much of the book. There are scenes of the fumbling beginnings of young love. Michael often says (through the narrator, the character doesn't speak at all) banal things that only teenagers would, "I knew I would die if I didn't see her again." He's only known her a few days. And the plot's main gimmick, that Michael can open any lock, verges on some super-power, like Spiderman's.
The second main gimmick, that Michael cannot speak, didn't make much sense to me. I couldn't see how that fact changed anything substantively, it was just there. It did give Michael a chance to express himself through art (cartoons) which is, I guess, the third gimmick: he's an artist. And no, that fact doesn't advance the story one bit either.
There is a good bit of description of how to pick a lock, all of which is meaningless unless you happen to be a locksmith yourself. It doesn't drag on too long at a time though, so you won't be wishing you could flip a few pages forward. It gets a little Zennish at times, but that's preferable to discussions of mushroom pins and tension bars.
Do authors have some sort of rules on how to handle jumping back and forth in time, years in this case? If not, they should, and this book would flunk. Let me put it this way: if this book were an abridged version, it would be incomprehensible. So we hop back and forth, slowly learning who this Ghost character is (he's the one that makes it Zennish). And learning about Michael's great childhood trauma. And finally finding out why Michael starts out in prison. If there is a purpose to delaying these explanations, I didn't see it.
The narration was OK. A little confusing terminology here. The novel is written as the first-person written narrative of Michael, and MacLeod Andrews narrates the narration. He did too good a job on the voice of Michael: he sounds like a somewhat callow, and sometimes irritating youth. He does a great job on the voice of the Ghost, though. Between these extremes the other characters are rendered well.
It's a readable book, and I was never tempted to put it in the DNF stack. But not an Edgar winner, not even close.
Original story. Excellent writing. Superb characters by narrator. Non-stop entertainment. Hard to categorize. A coming of age story about a rebellious young man who survived a traumatic childhood event. Scary characters, but not too gory. No gratuitous sex. Not psychotic. I loved it.
its an original
I looked forward to listening to this but found it rather underwhelming overall. Narration was flat and the story was not all that fast moving or interesting. I did make it all the way through, but probably wouldn't seek out any other titles from this author.
Yes this story won the Edgar for 2011 but what is really outstanding is the narrator in this audible version -- perfectly conveys the interior monologue of the mute young man at the center of this novel. the timeline runs from both ends toward a median revelation and resolution. But i found it perfectly clear as each switch comes with the dates announced. easy to track . The metaphor of "unlocking" hearts, minds, and of course locks, is used deftly throughout.
The story had some interesting plot lines, and have to agree with the reviewers that said the info about lock-picking was pretty interesting, but the story just had this feeling that it was for a younger audience... (maybe for those under 25?). The main character is young and many of his insights seem the same. I'm not sure, but i think the narrators voice also seemed young which contributed to that... Anyway, I guess i'm luke-warm on this one. Not sorry i read it, but not sure i'd recommend it to others.
I'm quitting this half-way through as I find the writing boring and pedestrian. Its written in a heavy, flat-footed style with obvious plot mechanics. I also find the reader to be one-noted and heavy handed.
More inflection and changes of tone by the reader.