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The Lock Artist

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  6,024 ratings  ·  956 reviews
""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 s...more
Paperback, 408 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Orion (first published December 29th 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Safe-cracking is an ART, and 18 year old Michael is a tumbler-aligning Picasso. Unfortunately, this talent has made him an extremely valuable commodity to some rather dangerous folks. Further complicating Michael's very unusual life is that he hasn’t uttered a single word for more than ten years, ever since he was traumatized by a singularly horrific event that he experienced at the tender age of 8.

Michael’s journey in The Lock Artist is told in the first person as he writes his story down in...more
How many times have I seen or read about a character picking a lock? I’m a crime/mystery fan so it’s gotta be in the hundreds. Maybe even over a thousand. It’s such a common cliché we don’t even think about anymore. A door is locked, and a character pulls out their little case with their tools and picks it . Yet this is the first story I’ve ever read that actually explains what it takes to pick a lock or open a safe. Surprise! It’s not as easy as it is in the movies, but it makes for a helluva g...more
Maggie Stiefvater
Wow, am I ever on a reading roll. Considering I normally adore fewer than ten novels in a year (about one in six or seven of the books that I read), it seems impossible that I should find another novel I adore so soon after reading Where Things Come Back. But I adored The Lock Artist. Those of you who read my review of Where Things Come Back will remember that I was longing for a book about guns and helicopters and magic, but found Things instead. Turns out that The Lock Artist was the book I wa...more
An interesting and suspenseful story of a mute teenaged safecracker.
The book provides such detailed intstructions on how to pick locks and open safes that I was finally able to let myself into my neighbor's house and steal those photos that he's been using to bribe...
Oops. I've said too much.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
"Mute artistic safecracker" hardly sounds like a promising profile for the main character in a thriller, but it works. There's a lot of originality here that makes this fun to read.

Michael was rendered mute by a traumatic experience at age eight. Now he's in prison for a robbery gone very wrong, and he tells the story of how he ended up in his current situation. He alternates between two story lines that eventually converge (sort of). One is the story of his young life as a mute, and how he bec...more
This book won the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Novel of 2011 (Edgar Awards are given annually by the Mystery Writers of America). That means those in the business of writing mystery novels recognize the superior quality in this well crafted tale. I heartily concur.

It jumps back and forth in time, and teaches us how to become an expert safecracker along the way. The narrator is a distinctive young man, Michael--something terrible happened to him when he was a child, before he came to live with his U...more
This book blew me away. Michael is a traumatized 18 year old who hasn't spoken a word in 10 years. He is also a master lock picker with a natural gift for breaking into places. Throughout the story, told by Michael, we learn about his recent past and eventually about the horrible events of his childhood that left him unable to speak. I was shocked by how emotional the story was as I was expecting a fun crime thriller with an unusual plot. Instead, this is a powerful and sad story wrapped in the...more
The problem of expectations – expect too much and disappointment ruins the tale. The Lock Artist appears on number of recommended or “Best” Lists and the premise, a teen-aged elective mute safecracker, sounds intriguing. It promised to be as original as Jonathan Lethem’s tour-de-force Motherless Brooklyn. Alas, this is not Motherless Brooklyn.

After a promising start, by cranking up the suspense by telling that our protagonist, Mike, suffered a traumatic event as a young child and was dubbed the...more
SETTING: Michigan
SERIES: Standalone
RATING: 4.75

One of the greatest blessings for the avid crime fiction reader is to discover a series that you love. You can look forward to spending time with books that you know will appeal to you, with a new one generally published every year. Steve Hamilton had me at "hello"; I thought that the first book in the Alex McKnight series, A COLD DAY IN PARADISE, was amazing. I've eagerly gobbled up each of the entries in that series and continue to wait for more....more
Liz Nutting
About a quarter of the way through The Lock Artist, by Steve Hamilton, I began pondering one of those meta-questions about reading: What are the qualities of a book that make you not want to put it down? That compel you to read "just a couple more pages" until you wake at 4:15 a.m. with the lights on, your glasses perched on your nose and the book stretched open across your chest? That make you willing to tote two or three extra pounds of hardcover book in your bag, despite the sore neck it caus...more
Candace Burton
RIP Robert Parker, and thank heavens for Steve Hamilton to write this methadone-like book for my Spenser addiction. If you like a good mystery, and by that I mean an actually mystery--not just a crime novel--complete with well-told story, you will enjoy this book. michael is the miracle boy--and the lock artist. something happened to him as a child, and although there's no physiological reason, he's left mute. this makes him the ultimate confidence man, by which i mean that if he's invited to pi...more
The Lock Artist recently won an Edgar for best novel. Steve Hamilton was in fine company for this award competing with authors Harlan Coben, Tana French, Tom Franklin, Laura Lippman and Timothy Hallinan. I hadn’t read all the nominees but the ones I did were really good so I thought Steve Hamilton’s winner should be good. It absolutely was.

I really like the way Hamilton told the tale. You know right from the beginning that something horrific and violent happened to 8 year old Michael but you do...more

The Lock Artist was a very intriguing novel about a mute safecracker. After a traumatic childhood experience, Michael never talks again. Through a series of incidents, he uncovers a real talent, even a gift, for cracking safes. Told in an interesting first person fashion, written as an autobiography, with alternating childhood and later chapters, I enjoyed it very much. Not a whole bunch really happened, but the story was told with real style. Micheal's experiences became yours and you really pu

For a character who barely utters a single word throughout the entire novel, Michael the Miracle Boy manages to completely stun me with his storytelling. I really haven’t come across a book this riveting in quite some time. Something bad, really bad happened to Michael when he was eight years old and makes him lost the ability to speak. Michael however learns to cultivate other abilities like drawing, which he is exceptionally good at … and later on, he masters the refined art of safe cracking....more
I liked this book well enough I suppose. I thought the protagonist, Michael, a teenage boy with a gift for unlocking nearly everything, was a well fleshed out character though I found him to be a little too much the "reluctant safecracker" for my tastes. Michael is unable to speak since a traumatic event which is not immediately explained. This made for some realistically uncomfortable situations in the story. The author obviously thought quite a bit about the problems that would arise for someo...more
Scott Foley
The Lock Artist pleasantly surprised me. While I realized it was a crime/mystery novel, I never expected it to have so much heart, such great characterization, nor did I imagine the plot would be so tightly woven.

The protagonist of the novel, Michael, is a young man who refuses to speak due to a past tragedy and has a preternatural talent at picking locks and opening safes. His history is complex and rich, and Hamilton makes a point to slowly reveal those things we most want to know, and in doin...more
I picked this book up at random. I've been in a bit of a reading rut lately and just wanted to break out and try something totally new by an author I've never read.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Lock Artist. Right from the start I was intrigued. The opening chapter pretty much tells you where the book is going to wind up, but I wanted to know what this mysterious thing he was so "famous" for as a child and how the heck he wound up where he was.

The book then takes you on a back and forth journ...more
Chris Everheart
A superbly written book with relatable young characters; a compelling crime story with true feeling and depth.
What did a teen with an "unforgivable talent," who hadn't said a word in ten years, do when he fell in love with a girl then fell in with the wrong people? As a young boy Michael was shocked into silence by a gruesome tragedy that left him an orphan, as a teen he made choices that cast him into a world of criminal minds bent on exploiting his unique gifts, as an adult he's paying the fu...more

Received an advance reader's edition from a friend and was anxious to get started on it. Been looking forward to Steve Hamilton's newest effort and wasn't let down. While not part of the Alex McKnight series, this was a great standalone novel. It is much better written than Night Work.

Hamilton's approach to telling Michael's story is very different from anything he has done previously. Even though the time frame of the story is short, the central portion took place over a little more than a yea

Kelly Hager
I cannot even tell you how good and interesting and fun this book is.

This book jumps back and forth in time (but each chapter has a note telling you when it takes place, so it's not confusing) and is about Mike, a boxman. That's apparently what those in the know call safecrackers. And, like Ocean's 11, it makes me want to do a criminal heist. (Although, like 24, it also makes me want to stay on the right side of the law so that nothing bad will happen to me or to my hand--because holy crap, did...more
Mike Smith is a "boxman." He can open any safe, padlock, or locked door without a combination or a key--a talent that lands him in prison at the age of eighteen. He spends his time writing down the story of his life because that's the only way he can share it. He hasn't spoken in ten years. Not a single word since the tragic day he became known as the "Miracle Boy." Mike is one of those unreliable narrators you can't help rooting for--a traumatized soul fighting his way back from the brink--and...more
Jul 23, 2013 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of heist stories
Recommended to Eric by: Kemper
An excellent non-linear first-person narrative told by Michael -- writing from prison -- about how he grew up to become a safe-cracker, or "boxman." Each puzzle piece of the disjointed tale is interesting enough as a singular vignette, but together they fit together to form a perfect narrative.

The writing is beautiful. There are powerful scenes, and tense scenes, and particularly vivid scenes -- ones I don't think I will ever forget. Michael's talents -- artistic and illegal -- are written in a...more
This is, without a doubt, one of those books that will have you grabbing every available minute to read. Winner of the Edgar for Best Novel, The Lock Artist functions as a coming-of-age tale, and an exciting thriller. Michael, the lock artist, has not spoken since he was eight, because of a trauma that will be revealed by the end, but he has also acquired a skill that makes him quite sought after in the wrong circles. He can pick any lock or combination safe. This vibrant and well-written tale i...more
Charlie Deer
I thought The Lock Artist was a great book. In the book Michael, a 17 year old, didn't speak at all because of his disease. Even though Michael couldn't speak he had this one talent, to open any kind of locks. He met this group of guys that would get into trouble by robbing various houses and stores. I would recommend this book to anyone because it was amazing. The Lock Artist was hard to put down. Hope you enjoy it.

Both the story and the construction of this hard-boiled thriller captured me from the beginning.

Michael is a young man who went through a horrific experience as a grade schooler that has left him unable to speak.

Taken in by his liquor-store owning uncle in a Michigan town outside Detroit, he has only two major talents: his art, and his artistic fingers, which allow him to teach himself to jimmy locks.

That leads to a high school night break-in that starts as a prank against a rival team's footb...more
Michael Jenkins
Michael has not uttered a single word for at least eight years. The only way he communicates is by sign language and hand gestures that he learned to relied on. Traumatized at a young age, he prefers to keep things to himself, keeping his acquaintances close and has little room for enemies. There is one thing that he does that is rare from most and that is his gift of unlocking things. Whether that is a door, a locker,safe, or anything that is locked from people accessing. It is not hard for him...more
Taryn Pierson
This book languished at the bottom of my to-read list for a long time. I feel bad about how it happened. Now that I've read it, I know that it's imaginative and entertaining and I shouldn't have delayed the experience. The problem is, I keep getting tempted by the shinier, newer books at the top of the list. I treat the bottom of my to-read list the way frat guys treat the drunk girls who are left in the bar at last call—I'll take you for a ride, but only because it's too late at night to find s...more
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David Peters
Hamilton has tried a standalone before, 2007’s Nightwork, which was okay but the plot was a little too unrealistic for me. I really just wanted more McKnight. So I began this one with a little trepidation, but in good faith in Hamilton’s skill.

You know what, this book, and especially this character, ROCKED. Michael was a victim of a vicious domestic abuse attack as a child which has rendered him speechless. So other talents come forth that enable him to interact with his world, mainly his art a...more
Mark Stevens
High on originality in terms of concept, “The Lock Artist” is a steady, compelling thriller. I’d use the ‘thriller’ term in a fairly mild sense. There are some tense moments and an inexorable tug to the whole plot. The book’s organization is nifty as it flips back and forth between young Michael and slightly-younger Michael and we see how he transformed himself and was trained to become one of the top lock-breaking, safecracking artists of his time. But the main question is whether Michael is go...more
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Michigan 16 76 Oct 03, 2013 11:59AM  
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LET IT BURN, the next Alex McKnight novel, coming Summer 2013
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“Somewhere in the ocean, a shark was missing its cold eyes because this man had them.” 9 likes
“I didn't know that once you've proven yourself useful to the wrong people, you'll never be free again.” 9 likes
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