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The Lock Artist

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  8,760 Ratings  ·  1,178 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 somehow
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Minotaur Books (first published December 29th 2009)
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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
Maggie Stiefvater
Jan 14, 2012 Maggie Stiefvater rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, recommended
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
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
Mar 29, 2012 Melki rated it really liked it
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"
Apr 24, 2010 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jeanette by: Charisse
"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
Dec 26, 2011 Scot rated it really liked it
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
Liz Nutting
May 07, 2011 Liz Nutting rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
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
Dec 26, 2011 Petertpc rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
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
Apr 09, 2011 Barry rated it it was ok
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
May 23, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Dec 09, 2013 Maddy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009-reads, tops
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.
Mar 21, 2016 Erica rated it liked it
Shelves: noir, mystery, thriller
This is a story about a merman who give up his voice to an evil entity associated with his past in exchange for a life on land as a criminal safe cracker. He eventually meets a woman who identifies as a mermaid and they .... wait, no that's not right, Although...

I always enjoy a good story about the perfect score/heist. This book had several of them, maybe too many. The lock picking and safe cracking scenes although interesting became repetitive and trying to get through but intriguing nonethele
May 05, 2016 Kiwi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Thriller where the protagonist is a teen unable to speak because of a traumatic domestic incident occurred when he was 8 years old. Mike discovers he has a natural talent for opening locks and safes and this fact gets him in the company of some dangerous people.
The novel is told in first person and despite the fact that each chapter jumps back and forth in time, the story flows well. There’s plenty of tension with a little bit of romance thrown in. Strangely enough, this not is not marked as YA
Benjamin baschinsky
Sep 07, 2016 Benjamin baschinsky rated it it was amazing
Outstanding plot , very original
Feb 10, 2014 Brenda rated it really liked it
This book was slow in the beginning, but then picked up the further I read. It had an OK ending, but I may feel that way because it wasn't the ending I was hoping for.
Bill Khaemba
“I didn't know that once you've proven yourself useful to the wrong people, you'll never be free again.”Image result for cracking a safe gif

Sometimes you just a fun book, one that will just entertain you regardless of the prose, writing style and all that jazz... I was in need for that so when I picked this up after reading so many sad stories it kind of got me in a happy mood. It was so fascinating and the plot was so cool that it seemed like I was watching a spy thriller movie.

Image result for heist gif

The perspective of the story is from a 17-year-ol
Ed [Redacted]
Nov 28, 2011 Ed [Redacted] rated it liked it
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
Feb 08, 2012 apple rated it it was amazing
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
Candace Burton
Aug 02, 2011 Candace Burton rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 23, 2013 Eric rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 26, 2010 Ed rated it it was amazing
After all the turkey and thanksgiving, I finished up The Lock Artist. The protagonist is Michael, an eighteen-year-old, mute safecracker, or what the book calls a "boxman." That's refreshingly original. Of course such a specialized job skill doesn't land you in a work cube or an office. Between dealing with the unsavory types, including his mentor "Ghost", Michael also falls in love with another student, Amelia. They relive his childhood horror rendering him a mute by drawing graphic novels. Dis ...more
Feb 17, 2011 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery

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

Heather L
This book was awesome! Just awesome. It has everything: suspense, humor, sadness, heroism. It was absolutely captivating. Michael was a great character. He was someone you could root for, feel sorry for, and also want to slap the poor kid and say "what the hell are you thinkin'?" But his actions speak volumes, all for good reason. The rest of the characters can be summed up perfectly: The good, the bad, and the ugly. I will definitely be putting more of Steve Hamilton's work on my tbr shelf.
Jan 29, 2016 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, crime
That rare but most satisfying of reads, a well written thriller with cleverly rendered characters and above all and an rarest of all a sparkling fun fresh take on all the pillars of the genre.

A teenager rendered mute by a trauma in his childhood tries to deal with his love life while being exploited for his lock picking skills. Admittedly a perhaps not entirely alluring plot summary but gosh it's good stuff.
May 28, 2016 debra rated it really liked it
4.5This is the first book I read( listened to) by Steve Hamilton and I was really impressed. Totally kept me interested and I thought the protagonist's situation and plot different and intriguing. I enjoyed it. Sometimes audio,depending on narrator, can add to the story.
Taryn Pierson
Apr 27, 2014 Taryn Pierson rated it really liked it
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
Jan 02, 2010 KarenC rated it really liked it
Recommended to KarenC by: Robin

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

Scott Foley
Nov 03, 2011 Scott Foley rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 02, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery, thriller

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
Chris Everheart
Jul 19, 2013 Chris Everheart rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
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
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THE SECOND LIFE OF NICK MASON, the start of a new series, will be out in May, 2016.

(Working on the next Alex McKnight book right now!)
More about Steve Hamilton...

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“I didn't know that once you've proven yourself useful to the wrong people, you'll never be free again.” 13 likes
“Somewhere in the ocean, a shark was missing its cold eyes because this man had them.” 11 likes
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