Friday, June 24, 2011

The Lock Artist

The Book: The Lock Artist

The Writer: Steve Hamilton

The Dealio: Michael would like to tell you his story. No. Really. He would like to tell you his story, but he can't. He hasn't spoken since, as an 8 yr old, he experienced something so traumatic, it rendered him, literally, speechless. So, Mike, now 18 years old, and behind bars, is going to write his story and allow you to arrive at your own conclusions about him. Oh, and why is 'our hero' behind bars? Well, it's an interesting story, told-written- by leap-frogging between the past and the present. We learn that 'Miracle Boy' Michael has grown up to become a 'box man': a safe-cracker extraordinaire. And along the way, we bump into characters whose names read like a blend of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and something out of Dashiel Hammett ('Sleepy Eyes', 'The Ghost', 'Fishing Hat' and 'Shark Eyes' to name a few). As Michael slowly begins to unspool the events- and the people- who diverted him into his current residence, a creeping sense of dread and emergency begins to stir, then stalk. We sort of know how this will end, because of the way it began: Michael, in jail, mute and pining for the one who got away.

The Grading Session: 4.81 pengies out of 5. This was an engaging and involving story, and several times, I found myself turning it off (yep, another audio book. What can I say? Have audio book, will travel), in favor of Jack Johnston or Elliott Smith, my anxiety over Mike's sitch so snagged my empathies. Also, the uniqueness of the story- we become privy to the man's- and boy's- thoughts, as if we were inside his brain. Everyone else in the tale has to guess and hope for the best. At times, so much detail about the science of cracking a safe was tedious- hence the yanking of a few percents of points. But, overall, this is an ambitious and compelling story, well executed.

Lessons Learned: I would make a lousy lock artist; apparently, one has to have some math skills as well as a near photographic memory. Alas, I am apparently unburdened by either. Next (everyone, all together now): if the deal looks too good to be the other way. Fast. No, faster! Finally this: a safe is NOT just like a woman. I don't care what 'The Ghost' says.

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