Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Lock Artist” as Want to Read:
The Lock Artist
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Lock Artist

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  11,306 ratings  ·  1,392 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Lock Artist, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
GSGS I guess different people process trauma differently, and I think the implication was that he was drawn to cracking locks in the first place because of…moreI guess different people process trauma differently, and I think the implication was that he was drawn to cracking locks in the first place because of his past. I think the scene where he cracks a safe for the first time is definitely coloured by PTSD; if you remember it's quite an intense scene where he's trying to save a hypothetical someone locked in the safe. Up until that point, he couldn't crack the safe, so it was as though as soon as he stopped repressing the trauma and instead confronted the panic and grief, that was when he was able to "feel" the workings of the safe and "open up" and become an artist. Even if it *is* a plot hole, I personally think the symbolism there is cool enough to justify it :) (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,306 ratings  ·  1,392 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Lock Artist
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 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended, adult
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
Manuel Antão
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

While reading this novel, I started thinking about literary devices, namely telling a story backwards: telling me who the culprit was but not who was killed and why, jumping back and forth, and then slowly explaining the details.

What draw me in in the first place was not the protagonist, but the novel’s structure. Hamilton divided the narrative into chunks apparently without taking notice of events, but with an eye to narrative tensi
Dec 07, 2011 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.
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-
Jeanette (Again)
Feb 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jeanette (Again) 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 23, 2011 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
May 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
At the age of eight, Michael survives an act of violence so horrific that the local press dubs him “The Miracle Boy.” An orphan now, and no longer able to speak, Michael soon discovers the one thing he can do better than anyone else. Whether it’s a locked door with no key, a padlock with no combination, or even an 800-pound safe…Michael can open them all.

It doesn’t take long for him to become a hot commodity, and the best “boxman” in the business. But like any valuable commodity, there are peopl
Apr 09, 2011 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
Liz Nutting
Apr 30, 2011 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
May 14, 2011 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
Nov 23, 2011 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
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Terrific storytelling! He sucked me right in from the beginning, and I let him. I knew I was in good hands.
Nov 28, 2009 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.
Jim Crocker
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
They never end the way you think they will. As this one got closer and closer to the end I started conjuring up possible endings. Wasn't even close. Hamilton has the ability to create some really weird characters and throw them into one strange conundrum after the other. In between, his prose is magnificent. It's no wonder he's won all sorts of prestigious awards, starting with his first novel.

Another MICHIGAN boy makes good! Yes, that's what we all got going for us. Our roots in good ole Michig
Mar 03, 2016 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
Jan 30, 2014 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.
Benjamin baschinsky
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding plot , very original
The author managed to keep a mute bloke interesting during a novel. Is that true? It partially is. To others, it will be doubly so. But I will say it only once, a mute traumatized outlaw isn't fun. There's a lack of any way shape or form of humor in this book. Some might say there's dark humor, but I don't agree because there's never a set up for a joke. It's one full treatment, a mild thriller caked in dreary attempts at cohesion.

The childhood of Mike is like a footnote. The brief glimpse in
Craig Sisterson
It’s always interesting to read books that have won awards, and see if you see what the judges have raved about (sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t). There are few awards bigger in the crime writing world than the annual Edgars, given out by the Mystery Writers of America, and earlier this year that honour went to The Lock Artist, an intriguing tale centred on a unique young man with talent and troubles.

As a kid, Michael survived a terrible incident that took his parent, but rendered him mute
Ed [Redacted]
Nov 21, 2011 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
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
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
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, fiction
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.
Pamela  (Here to Read Books and Chew Gum)
I really struggled with The Lock Artist. It belongs clearly within the adult crime noir genre, but the plot, writing style, and over-reliance on archetypes made it feel like it was written for a much younger audience.

There are quite a few things to commend Steve Hamilton for. His use of a protagonist with selective mutism was both well developed and unique. It made Michael an interesting narrator, as it gave him a unique worldview. The scenes of lockpicking were also well written and researched
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read. It was really well written. The premise of the plot was a great idea. The execution of that premise missed the mark by a fair amount. I listened to the audio version and the reader was also amazing.
Feb 08, 2012 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 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
Rebecca Angel Maxwell
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great book. Really well written. The structure was good: going back and forth from telling the story in prison, time in high school, and the year of crime. The main character is a boy that doesn't talk after going through a trauma in early childhood, which he only reveals at the very end of the book. When the structure merges and you find out why he is so driven to open is powerful and heartbreaking.

There are some really wonderful scenes. The one where he meets his first friend in ar
Mar 06, 2013 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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Please update page count 2 14 Mar 13, 2016 10:26PM  
Michigan 16 84 Oct 03, 2013 11:59AM  
Crime, Mysteries ...: Lock Artist, The - March 2013 8 76 Mar 29, 2013 09:31AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Firefox (Mitchell Gant, #1)
  • An American King (The Whicher Series Book 4)
  • The 13th Hour
  • The Son of Good Fortune
  • Ghostman (Jack White #1)
  • Liars' Legacy (A Jack and Jill Thriller, #2)
  • The Tower
  • Highway 61 (Mac McKenzie, #8)
  • The Screwtape Letters: Also Includes "Screwtape Proposes a Toast"
  • Blue Chip Kids: What Every Child (and Parent) Should Know about Money, Investing, and the Stock Market
  • United We Stand: How We Can Take Back Our Country
  • Jelly's Gold (Mac McKenzie, #6)
  • The Border Lords (Charlie Hood #4)
  • Je bent een verschrikkelijk kind
  • Waanzin
  • Dan neem je toch gewoon een nieuwe: over mensen en dieren, leven en dood
  • Fout
  • De held
See similar books…
Two-time Edgar Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of the Nick Mason series, The Lock Artist, and the Alex McKnight series

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
30 likes · 16 comments
“I didn't know that once you've proven yourself useful to the wrong people, you'll never be free again.” 17 likes
“Somewhere in the ocean, a shark was missing its cold eyes because this man had them.” 11 likes
More quotes…