Cracking open “The Lock Artist”

April 25, 2012

At the gym one morning this week, I was reminded of Steve Hamilton’s The Lock Artist, thanks to a movie trailer on one of the TV monitors. At first I thought the movie might have something to do with the book. I didn’t have sound capability. I just saw the movie title “Safe” and an image of a safe dial, then a little girl who obviously has the ability to crack a code every criminal in Manhattan wants. The movie, opening this Friday, actually has nothing whatsoever to do with the book. (I later watched the trailer on my computer.) Still, it triggered me to think about The Lock Artist that won last year’s Edgar® Award for Best Novel. And it’s not the first time this month I’ve thought about it. During my recent NYC trip, browsing through a display at St. Mark’s Bookshop on the Lower East Side, I thumbed through and almost purchased a copy.

Perhaps the book is coming to mind because the Edgar® Award winners are announced every spring. Indeed, we’ll learn the winners of the 2012 awards on Thursday night (April 26). Whatever the reason for my focus on The Lock Artist, I’m reminded time is marching on, and even though a new Edgar® for Best Novel will take everyone’s attention this week, I’m still excited about the prospect of reading last year’s winner.

Here’s a brief plot summary.

The narrator of The Lock Artist is William Michael Smith, an 18-year-old boy who stopped speaking when he was 8-years-old because of a traumatizing tragedy. He’s got a unique talent — Michael can open anything that’s locked, no matter how impossible, from a door without a key to a complicated bank safe. “It’s an unforgivable talent,” according to the publisher’s description. “A talent that will make young Michael a hot commodity with the wrong people and, whether he likes it or not, push him ever close to a life of crime. Until he finally sees his chance to escape, and with one desperate gamble risks everything to come back home to the only person he ever loved, and to unlock the secret that has kept him silent for so long.” 

The Guardian wrote last year: “It is a tale of blessing and curse, horror and redemption, a boy who is utterly locked out and a man who can bypass any security system, skilfully woven in the spare, elegant prose of unforced authenticity.”

The Edgar® Awards are sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America and widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious in the genre. In addition to Best Novel, award categories include Best First Novel, Best Paperback Original, Best Fact Crime, Best Critical Biographical and more. If you’re looking for some good books, these nominee lists provide terrific selections.

Here are the novels nominated in the Best Novel category for 2012, winner to be announced Thursday night. Meanwhile, I’m cracking open The Lock Artist.

Update Thursday, 4/26/12 @ 10:10 p.m.: Gone by Mo Hader won the Edgar for Best Novel.

2 Responses to “Cracking open “The Lock Artist””

  1. SP Says:

    Read the “The Lock Artist” based on your recommendation and it was a good start-of-summer, page-turner tale…thanks and even the teenager living in our midst liked it and read it straight through–a sure-fire indication of a captivating book!


  2. Glad to hear you and the resident teen liked it. It’s such a good book. The ending totally surprised me.


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