The Lock Artist

The Lock Artist

4.2 114
by Steve Hamilton
     
 

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Winner of the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Novel

Michael is no ordinary young man. Mute since a childhood tragedy, at age eighteen he discovers that he possesses a skill he would never have expected. Whether it's a locked door without a key, a padlock with no combination, or even an eight-hundred pound safe…he can open them all.

It's a talent that will

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Overview

Winner of the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Novel

Michael is no ordinary young man. Mute since a childhood tragedy, at age eighteen he discovers that he possesses a skill he would never have expected. Whether it's a locked door without a key, a padlock with no combination, or even an eight-hundred pound safe…he can open them all.

It's a talent that will make Michael a hot commodity with the wrong people, and whether he likes it or not, push him closer to a life of crime. Until one day, when he finally sees his chance to escape, and decides to risk everything to return home to the only person he ever loved, and to unlock the secret that has kept him silent for so long.

Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
The enthralling narrative voice you hear in Steve Hamilton's imaginative crime novel…wants you to know…he's telling this story in order to find his voice because he stopped speaking years ago, in 1990, when he was 8 years old…As coming-of-age novels go, this one is too good for words.
—The New York Times
Fiona Zublin
Hamilton…understands what's truly scary, what's truly suspenseful…While the structure of the book seems at first as simple as its aggressively unstylish prose, it shifts quickly from a teenage love story to a heist-gone-wrong. The racing conclusion feels inevitable but entirely fresh.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
At the start of this offbeat thriller from Edgar-winner Hamilton (A Stolen Season and six other titles in the Alex McKnight PI series), the book’s intriguing narrator, Mike (aka the Golden Boy, the Young Ghost, the Lock Artist, etc.), confesses that a traumatic experience at age eight left him unable to speak and that he has been in prison for nine years. His strange odyssey, which hops around in time, takes Mike and his twin talents, art and lock breaking, from his Michigan home to both coasts while in thrall to a mysterious man in Detroit whom he doesn’t dare cross. Propelled by an aching desire to recover his voice, Mike has brushes with the law, flirts with romance and makes alliances with criminals, from rank amateurs to consummate professionals. Along the way, Hamilton drops tantalizing clues about Mike’s troubled past and his uncertain future. Readers will hope to hear more from Mike. 75,000 first printing; author tour. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
A traumatized boy grows into a world-class safecracker. Every gangster knows that a boxman is the guy who opens boxes (safes) with precious things in them. Michael Smith's acquaintances know that he's an artist among boxmen, someone who, like more conventional artists, is at a loss to explicate the mysteries-partly because he doesn't talk. When he was eight, Michael states on the first page, a headline-grabbing horror changed his life forever, setting him on his less-traveled path. He still can't tell us about it, "but maybe one of these days as I'm writing, I'll get to . . . that day in June of 1990." Nine years later, however, 17-year-old Michael suddenly realizes that he can unlock just about anything. This skill, of course, makes him valuable to a wide range of no-goods, some of them just greedy, others downright predatory. But it also brings him to Amelia, with whom he falls irrevocably in love. In order to protect her from dangers more imagined than real, hopelessly romantic Michael is drawn into a multimillion-dollar con game as deadly as it is elaborate. Isolated, deeply enmeshed and mind-numbingly scared, Michael will be hard-pressed to feel his way toward solving a perilous, no-exit, locked-box mystery. Readers may tire of lock lore a bit earlier than Hamilton (Night Work, 2007, etc.), but sharp prose and a strong cast should keep them in line. First printing of 75,000

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781441837929
Publisher:
Findaway World
Publication date:
01/28/2010
Series:
Playaway Adult Fiction Series
Edition description:
Playaway Edition
Product dimensions:
4.64(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.22(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Lock Artist

A Novel
By Hamilton, Steve

Minotaur Books

Copyright © 2010 Hamilton, Steve
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312380427

One

Locked Up Tight for Another Day

You may remember me. Think back. The summer of 1990. I know that’s a while ago, but the wire services picked up the story and I was in every newspaper in the country. Even if you didn’t read the story, you probably heard about me. From one of your neighbors, somebody you worked with, or if you’re younger, from somebody at school. They called me "the Miracle Boy." A few other names, too, names thought up by copy editors or newscasters trying to outdo one another. I saw "Boy Wonder" in one of the old clippings. "Terror Tyke," that was another one, even though I was eight years old at the time. But it was the Miracle Boy that stuck.

I stayed in the news for two or three days, but even when the cameras and the reporters moved on to something else, mine was the kind of story that stuck with you. You felt bad for me. How could you not? If you had young kids of your own back then, you held them a little tighter. If you were a kid yourself, you didn’t sleep right for a week.

In the end, all you could do was wish me well. You hoped that I had found a new life somewhere. You hoped that because I was so young, somehow this would have protected me, made it not so horrible. That I’d be able to get over it, maybe even put the wholething behind me. Children being so adaptable and flexible and durable, in ways that adults could never be. That whole business. It’s what you hoped, anyway, if you even took the time to think about me the real person and not just the young face in the news story.

People sent me cards and letters back then. A few of them had drawings made by children. Wishing me well. Wishing me a happy future. Some people even tried to visit me at my new home. Apparently, they’d come looking for me in Milford, Michigan, thinking they could just stop anybody on the street and ask where to find me. For what reason, exactly? I guess they thought I must have some kind of special powers to have lived through that day in June. What those powers might be, or what these people thought I could do for them, I couldn’t even imagine.

In the years since then, what happened? I grew up. I came to believe in love at first sight. I tried my hand at a few things, and if I was any good at it, that meant it had to be either totally useless or else totally against the law. That goes a long way toward explaining why I’m wearing this stylish orange jumpsuit right now, and why I’ve been wearing it every single day for the past nine years.

I don’t think it’s doing me any good to be here. Me or anybody else. It’s kind of ironic, though, that the worst thing I ever did, on paper at least, was the one thing I don’t regret. Not at all.

In the meantime, as long as I’m here, I figure what the hell, I’ll take a look back at everything. I’ll write it all down. Which, if I’m going to do it, is really the only way I can tell the story. I have no other choice, because as you may or may not know, in all the things I’ve done in the past years, there’s one particular thing I haven’t done. I haven’t spoken one single word out loud.

That’s a whole story in itself, of course. This thing that has kept me silent for all of these years. Locked up here inside me, ever since that day. I cannot let go of it. So I cannot speak. I cannot make a sound.

Here, though, on the page . . . it can be like we’re sitting together at a bar somewhere, just you and me, having a long talk. Yeah, I like that. You and me sitting at a bar, just talking. Or rather me talking and you listening. What a switch that would be. I mean, you’d really be listening. Because I’ve noticed how most people don’t know how to listen. Believe me. Most of the time they’re just waiting for the other person to shut up so they can start talking again. But you . . . hell, you’re just as good a listener as I am. You’re sitting there, hanging on every word I say. When I get to the bad parts, you hang in there with me and you let me get it out. You don’t judge me right off the bat. I’m not saying you’re going to forgive everything. I sure as hell don’t forgive it all myself. But at least you’ll be willing to hear me out, and in the end to try to understand me. That’s all I can ask, right?

Problem is, where do I begin? If I go right to the sob story, it’ll feel like I’m already trying to excuse everything I did. If I go to the hardcore stuff first, you’ll think I’m some sort of born criminal. You’ll write me off before I get the chance to make my case.

So maybe I’ll kind of skip around, if you don’t mind. How the first real jobs I was involved with went down. How it felt to be growing up as the Miracle Boy. How it all came together that one summer. How I met Amelia. How I found my unforgivable talent. How I got myself heading down the wrong road. Maybe you’ll look at that and decide that I didn’t have much choice. Maybe you’ll decide that you would have done exactly the same thing.

The one thing I can’t do is start off on that day in June of 1990. I can’t go there yet. No matter how hard other people have tried to convince me, and believe me, there were a lot of them and they tried pretty damned hard . . . I can’t start there because I already feel claustrophobic enough in here. Some days it’s all I can do to keep breathing. But maybe one of these days as I’m writing, I’ll get to it and I’ll think to myself, okay, today’s the day. Today you can face it. No warm-up needed. Just go back to that day and let it fly. You’re eight years old. You hear the sound outside the door. And—

Damn, this is even harder than I thought.

I had to take a little break, get up and walk around a little bit, which around here isn’t very far. I left the cell and walked down through the common area, used the main bathroom and brushed my teeth. There was a new guy in there, someone who doesn’t know anything about me yet. When he said hey to me, I knew I had to be careful. Not answering people might be considered rude on the outside. In here, it could be taken as disrespect. If I were in a really bad place, I’d probably be dead by now. Even in here, in this place, it’s a constant challenge for me.

I did what I usually do. Two fingers of my right hand pointing to my throat, then a slashing motion. No words coming out of here, pal. No disrespect intended. I obviously made it back alive because I’m still writing.

So hang on, because this is my story if you’re ready for it. 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.

Excerpted from The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton.
Copyright © 2009 by Steve Hamilton.
Published in January 2010 by Minotaur Books.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.



Continues...

Excerpted from The Lock Artist by Hamilton, Steve Copyright © 2010 by Hamilton, Steve. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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