The Lock Artist pleasantly surprised me. While I realized it was a crime/mystery novel, I never expected it to have so much heart, such great characterization, nor did I imagine the plot would be so tightly woven.
The protagonist of the novel, Michael, is a young man who refuses to speak due to a past tragedy and has a preternatural talent at picking locks and opening safes. His history is complex and rich, and Hamilton makes a point to slowly reveal those things we most want to know, and in doing so he builds the tension. It’s worth noting, consequently, that those revelations are well worth the wait.
Hamilton presents an interesting first-person narrative style by having Michael recount his past to us, but he does so in two different phases. One phase of his recollections are his most recent jobs, especially the one that lands him in his current predicament. The other phase explains how and why he initially became a “box man,” a safe-cracker. Both plot lines are engaging, and Hamilton converges them at just the right moments. The meticulous complexity of Hamilton’s plot was a delight. There literally is nothing in this novel that does not play an important role to the overall story.
Hamilton also impressed me by making it seem as though Michael really is a “golden boy” at opening safes. I have no idea how accurate Hamilton’s depictions are, but they certainly were specific enough to suspend my disbelief.
But the great joy of The Lock Artist is the precision Hamilton exemplifies with his main character. Michael is a realistic, charismatic, deeply layered character and I found myself truly caring about his plight. The greatest compliment I can give Hamilton is that Michael now exists within my mind as a vital entity.
With a smooth, enjoyable writing style, Hamilton produced a fast-paced, incredibly well-crafted novel that not only provides plenty of excitement, but some legitimate characterization as well. Even if you’re not a crime/mystery novel reader, I know you’ll enjoy The Lock Artist.