Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

First Lines: 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.
Tragedy and trauma have scarred Michael's life since he was eight years old. He hasn't spoken a word for ten years. Not one single word. But he's finally found the one thing he's good at: he's a lock artist. Whether it's a door without a key, a padlock without a combination, or a safe weighing hundreds of pounds, Michael can open them all.
It's a talent that makes Michael a hot commodity with the wrong people, and it pushes him-- whether he wants it to or not-- into a life of crime. Then he finally sees his one shot to escape, to go back home to the only person he's ever loved, and it's going to mean unlocking the secret that's kept him silent for so long.
The Lock Artist has been on my radar ever since I heard Steve Hamilton talk about it at a local author event. Now... if only my reaction to the book hadn't been so mixed. 

Michael is a fantastic character, make no bones about it. Showing how those around him deal with someone who doesn't speak illuminates both Michael's character and theirs. Unfortunately, most of them seem to think he's some sort of freak, and once they learn what his talent is, all they can think of is how to exploit his skill at opening any sort of lock he's faced with. Michael is the sort of young man you root for. You want him to get away from the bad guys. You want him to find the peace and happiness he deserves. Because he is a good person trapped in the aftermath of the horrendous things that happened when he was eight years old. Michael behaves as though he has some sort of survivor's guilt, that he deserves whatever happens to him. That trauma seems to have stolen his will, and that's one thing that drove me nuts about The Lock Artist.

The other thing is the glacial unfolding of the story. It seemed to take forever for the story to finally arrive at the point where we learn what happened to Michael all those years ago, and once we find out what happened, a lot of Michael's behavior makes sense. Unfortunately, I'd begun to lose patience with the young man long before the reveal, which undoubtedly says more about me than it does the book. How many times does it take for a person to grow a spine and learn how to refuse to do something he knows is wrong? I know teenagers yearn for acceptance from their peers, but when those peers are repeatedly shown to be entitled jerks who don't care about anyone but themselves, how long does it take for the light bulb to go off over a person's head? In Michael's case, a long, long time.

Between the extremely slow pace and my exasperation with Michael, my enjoyment of The Lock Artist was blunted. However, your mileage may definitely vary-- especially if you have more patience than I do. Steve Hamilton has created a fantastic main character whom I shall remember for a long time, no matter how much he exasperated me.

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
eISBN: 9781429983440
Thomas Dunne Books © 2021
eBook, 304 pages
Thriller, Standalone
Rating: B
Source: Purchased from Amazon.


  1. This sounds really interesting, Cathy. And what an interesting protagonist, too. I'm familiar with Hamilton's writing from his Alex McKnight series, but I've not read this one. Still, Hamilton can tell a good tale, so I can see how this one appealed.


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