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Adult Lit: The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Thriller/Mystery/Contemporary

Release Date: 1/5/2010

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About the Book: Michael is what's known as "boxman"-he has a talent for cracking safes. He was trained by The Ghost and works for a man in Detroit taking boxman jobs for hire. When he gets a call, he goes. As a kid, Michael survived a family tragedy during his childhood but hasn't uttered a word since, which makes him perfect as his job because he will never tell on anyone. Michael is passing his time by writing his story and recounting the journey that landed him in prison nine years ago. Told in alternating timelines, this is Michael's story of how he became a boxman and the strange events that followed.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This is a unique crime thriller. The book is told in alternating timelines-the first is the story leading up to Michael becoming a boxman (1992-1999) and the second is a narrative of the jobs he takes (2000). This adds to the suspense of the story because things are slowly revealed in the 2000 timeline and then a little bit later we get the backstory of how that happened. In some ways we're one step ahead of the story until the end when the timelines start to connect. This is a effective device as it gives the reader a chance to try and piece together the story before Michael gets there.

Michael is an interesting narrator because he doesn't talk, so his interactions with others are interesting to read about. We know Michael's voice and his snarky comments, but the other characters don't. Michael expresses himself through art to his crush Amelia, and they communicate through comic panels they draw each other.

I was surprised a bit by how much I liked The Lock Artist. It was an inventive story and I liked reading about Michael's safe cracking skills. Anyone who is a fan of crime fiction should pick this one up. This was also on the 2011 Alex Awards list and I could see this having appeal for older teens. especially teens who like mysteries.

I listened to this one on audio and really enjoyed-fantastic narrator and he had a great snarky voice to Michael. I wasn't sure if I would like it on audio, since Michael is a non-speaking character, but it never felt weird and I liked hearing Michael's voice when the other characters couldn't.

Book Pairings:
For some reason this book really reminded me of White Cat by Holly Black, even though they aren't that similar. Just the crime aspect of the book makes me think they will appeal to the same readers.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook I borrowed from my local library


  1. I will be searching for this on audio now! I love good audiobooks and this one sounds like it is right up my alley.

  2. I also loved this book and was surprised by how much. Did you feel a calm come over you every time he picked a lock?

  3. Scott-I hadn't thought about it, but yes! Because it is very suspenseful leading up to that and you want him to be succesful, even though at the same you know he's leading a life of crime!

  4. I love these adult reviews from your class, but I'm dying to find out what your sci-fi and fantasy pick was! :D

  5. Heather-SF/Fantasy is in April, so I haven't read anything yet. Right now I'm thinking either The Time Machine or The Martian Chronicles for SF and Wizard of Earthsea for Fantasy (we're hosting a chat with the author this summer at my library!)


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