May 7, 2011
Book Review: The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton, Edgar Award Winner
Steve Hamilton's The Lock Artist: A Novel [Hardcover](2010) won this year's Edgar Award for Best Novel. I scanned it in about two hours or so and felt I got the gist of the book, which I would rate about a 4 out of 5 stars. The lock artist is a young man who has decided not to speak though he is not physically mute. His talents for unlocking safes and any kind of lock makes him a target for professional thieves, who take advantage of him and reward him with very little if any of the takings.
The book shows his history through flashbacks in the storytelling and gradually reveals the reason he is now in jail at the start of the book. However, not all is lost for this young man. There is a twist to the plot and at the end, there is hope for a better life and even for love.
The characterization is excellent. You become involved in the life of this mute and seemingly helpless but talented "lock artist," as the story is told in the first person, from his point of view.
I can understand why the book won the Edgar. After all, the author has won before and was certainly a safe bet. However, there is another Edgar nominee that I rated a full 5 stars - The Queen of Patpong: A Poke Rafferty Thriller by Timothy Hallinan. This book is not only socially conscious, even more so than The Lock Artist, but it's also an excellent thriller with a lot going for it on several levels.
I recommend you read them both!