Marked by tragedy, traumatized at the age of eight, Michael, now 18, is no ordinary young man. Besides not uttering a single word in 10 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 800 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. That is, 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 or heard in the world of crime fiction.
©2010 Steve Hamilton; (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Hypnotic...a proven master of suspense moves in a brand new direction - and the result is can't-put-it-down spectacular." (Lee Child)
"I haven't read a book this captivating in a long time. The Lock Artist is gutsy, genuine and, flat out, a great read. You won't be disappointed." (Michael Connelly)
Pros: interesting story line about a unique topic, told in a creative out-of-sequence narrative, good reader. Cons: a bit sappy with teenage love thrown into what otherwise would be a hard-boiled crime novel, characters were a bit overblown and cartoonish, a few of the character voices were a little annoying.
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 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.
Thanks, Steve Hamilton, for delivering a truly suspenseful book with a different kind of "hero". I thoroughly enjoyed this one, from beginning to end!
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.
Freelance journalist, now living in Israel. Audible books listener for 30 years, when I had to pretend to be blind to get access.
I'm a big fan of Steve Hamilton's Alex McKnight series -- they are among the best in terms of characters, setting, action and most of all location. I love books set in cold places where the snow plays the part of a character -- 'Paradise, MI', certainly qualifies as that. So I was expecting more from him in this non-series book. I was disappointed. It's not a bad book, not really. It's just that I expected so much more from Steve Hamilton. His other books are among the best of the best -- how did he get messed up with this comparatively lackluster tale?
Maybe it was intended for a teenage audience, with all the 'young love' and all.... Maybe it was a slight revision of Dean Koontz 'Hideaway', which also features a main character who was resuscitated after a long period, but who survives but with unique abilities and disabilities.
There was never a moment when I thought I'd quit listening -- it's a fairly involving tale. Just one that's not really worthy of this author. I hope he goes back to spinning more adult white knuckle tales from Upper Michigan.
"The Lock Artist" will keep you spellbound. Here Steve Hamilton creates a character about whom we care, then puts him into an impossible situation. You will enjoy watching how young Mike works his way through this predicament, while maintaining his integrity. Mr. Hamilton employs deft writing skills to define multi-dimensional characters and to envision the world through which they move. MacLeod Andrews does a magnificent job narrating this novel, creating unique voices for all of the characters, so that we can easily distinguish who is talking. Even if Mr. Hamilton hadn't crafted such an intriguing plot, I would still recommend "The Lock Artist" in audio, just so you could hear a master actor at work. If you don't mind being kept up late at night ??? to find out what happens next ??? buy "The Lock Artist."
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.
Just finished the truly great...and exciting...story of The Lock Artist. Narration is outstanding. Along with "Wolf Hall" it is a perfectly told version of a great book. One of the NYTBR 2010 top 100 books, it is a coming of age...adventure...crime novel...love story...about a boy who goes mute via traumatic event and falls into a netherword where he becomes a "box man" for hire. No spoiler details here...Just great writing...and reading. I have listened to well over 150 books...some for fifteen minutes before bailing out...and some for over 20 hours of pleasure...this is one not to miss. I'm recommending this audio version over the book...hard to imagine that reading is better than this particular narration.
Combine a great story with a great narrator and you have a great audio book. The story is easy to follow and sucks you in almost immediately. Very well paced. The mechanics of lock picking are interesting and the main character is likable. Just the right amount of suspense and a few plot twists thrown in. A good solid work that delivers. I've listened to a lot of audio book fiction and this has been one of my favorites.
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