Michael is a young man with a special talent for opening things – well, everything except his mouth. At age 8, something horrific happened to him, his mother and father, that caused him to be unable to talk. It’s not physical, but it may as well be. Michael spends the rest of his young life raised by his uncle after both his parents are dead.
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton opens with Michael telling the reader his story from prison. Michael’s talent? Picking locks. At first, he buys a couple standard locks from a junk shop and opens them. Then one night, he falls in with the wrong crowd (who previously shun him because he doesn’t speak) and breaks into a man’s house, leaving no trace the lock has been picked. The others run off when the police are called, but Michael gets caught and won’t give up his accomplices. His punishment is working for the man whose house he broke into, a man whose daughter Amelia, Michael has seen a drawing of and whose face he can’t forget.
Michael’s skill attracts all the wrong people, and he is forced to become a box man, or safe cracker, in order to safeguard the one person with whom he has been able to communicate – Amelia.
I first read about The Lock Artist at Jen’s Book Thoughts and again at Jenn’s Bookshelves. I was convinced I had to read it and bought it at Murder by the Book about a month ago. I began it late one evening and finished it the next day. It was one of my #fridayreadstakemeaway choices.
Hamilton writes one hell of a suspenseful novel: the pacing had my palms sweating, and I couldn’t wait to find out what had happened to Michael, dubbed Miracle Boy by the town where he is raised. Though holding the *big event that happened in the past that affects the present* doesn’t work for some books (I’m looking at you, Little Bee), Hamilton kills it, but he also inspired a very odd feeling in me: The more I read about Michael’s inability to speak, the more I felt as if I couldn’t speak. Yes, I know this sounds absolutely crazy and abstract, but think about it. You aren’t speaking when you read. The longer you read, the longer you remain silent. And I honestly had to stop and say a few words out loud at one point. That’s how insanely skilled Hamilton is. I identified with Michael; even though I knew he was making the wrong choices, I felt he had no other option. Why his hands are tied behind his back and the reasons for his speechlessness, well, you’ll just have to find out by reading.
But do me a favor. If you don’t feel all meta or abstract or whatever, don’t come back here and make fun of me for having to take “talking out loud breaks.” Or do. Whatever. I’ll just be happy you read The Lock Artist.
Read this one: immediately / asap / when you get a chance / if youâ€™re bored
jenn aka the picky girl