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.

Caught, crooked, faithful…

January 20, 2011

I’ve not paid much attention to the Edgar® Awards in the past, but this year is different: I’m curious, thanks to my newfound reading adventures in this literary genre.

Nominees for the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2010 were announced this week. These awards are sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America and widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious in the genre.

The full list of nominees in the 10 categories can be read on the Edgar website. Here I investigate the six nominees in their Best Novel category.

Caught by Harlan Coben
Described by The Independent as a “an excellent thriller” and by the New York Times as “crazily hyperactive,” bestselling Coben’s newest stand-alone involves a teenager suddenly gone missing and a news reporter who makes a name for herself chasing sexual predators. In this case, though, she starts questioning her instincts. The prologue is available for reading on Coben’s website.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
The story of two boyhood friends, torn apart by circumstance, who are brought together again by a terrible crime in a small Mississippi town. Washington Post book critic Ron Charles wrote this: “If you’re looking for a smart, thoughtful novel that sinks deep into a Southern hamlet of the American psyche, ‘Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter’ is your next book.” 

Faithful Place by Tana French
NYT book critic Janet Maslin listed this as one of her 10 favorites of 2010. Faithful Place is a story about an Irish family with a mystery to go along –  one of the family members returns to his hometown, Dublin, Ireland, to investigate the disappearance of his childhood sweetheart.

The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan
This mystery takes place in Bangkok, Thailand, with Halliman’s returning travel-writer protagonist facing evils from his wife’s past that threaten the family. Lots of blogging about this book, but no reviews from major sources that I could find. This is the fourth mystery in a series.

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
This story’s 18-year-old protagonist doesn’t speak, ever since he experienced tragedy as an eight-year-old. But he’s got a gift for picking locks, no matter how impossible it may seem, and this gift leads to crime. This is a new character for Hamilton, who’s known for his Edgar Award-winning Alex McKnight series. From The New York Times review: “As coming-of-age novels go, this one is too good for words.”

I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
The story of a young woman who dangerously engages with a man on Death Row who kidnapped her when she was a teenager. From a review in the Washington Post: “Some people would segregate Lippman as a crime or thriller writer. That’s a shame. She’s one of the best novelists around, period.”

%d bloggers like this: