The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

The Lock Artist is narrated by the main character, Michael. Michael has been unable to speak since the age of 8 due to a traumatic event in which he lost both his parents and almost died himself. He is currently in jail writing about his life. So, the two questions that form the plots of the story are; how did Michael end up in jail? And, what was the traumatic event that left Michael unable to speak even though there is nothing physically wrong with him.

After the death of his parents, Michael grew up with an uncle and became very much a loner. He has two real talents, his art, and his ability to open locks. Unfortunately, his ability to open locks becomes known to the wrong people and, partly through Michael’s inability to walk away from bad situations, they begin to find ways to exploit Michael’s talent. Michael begins a career as a specialist lock picker and safe cracker for robbery teams, wondering if he’ll ever be able to break free and get back to a normal life.

It isn’t till late in the book, which consists of Michael switching between two periods of his life, that the two time periods come together and Michael is able to reveal the details of his childhood trauma.

The character of Michael is very well built up in the book, so while the idea of a completely mute, artistic safecracker may sound a bit over the top, it is actually very credible in the context of the story, and makes for a fairly unusual lead character. There is great suspense in the story and a terrific build-up to the point when the two parts of Michael’s life come together and the full story is revealed.

I thoroughly enjoyed this very readable book and highly recommend it to all crime readers.


Book Published 2009


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