The Lock Artist
By Steve Hamilton
PBR Book Review: “The Lock Artist” is one of the more original mysteries I’ve read recently. I quickly found myself totally immersed in Michael’s life. He may be a criminal, but he is very easy to sympathize with, which I believe is largely due to his strong inner conscience. He sometimes ignores this voice in his head, but it’s a trait that makes him very human and a bad guy that you want to root for. There are actually two mysteries converging in this novel - Michael’s fascinating back-story showing how his present situation evolved and how his current predicament plays out. This psychological tug of war trumps the actual crimes taking place in the story. There is also a touching thread as Michael falls in love and attempts to communicate with his girlfriend. They are both artistic and since he is mute, their love notes take the form of a graphic comic book, very original and engaging. In short – a great mystery that will appeal to anyone who enjoys complex characters and crime fiction and a good story
Book Club Talking Points: Talking Points:
This is a mystery, but more than that it’s an incredible story about a young man who survived a terrible tragedy as a child. It opens up discussion on the effects of trauma to a child and the redemptive quality of love. You won’t be able to stop thinking about the original voice the author gives to the main character. This is a fun, entertaining read packed with suspense and originality.
*Author Website: http://www.authorstevehamilton.com/
*Other Books by Same Author: “Misery Bay”, Ice Run”, Blood in the Sky”, “North of Nowhere”, The Hunting Wind”, Winter of the Wolf Moon”, “A Cold Day In Paradise”, “Night Works”, “Beneath the Book Tower”, “Meeting Across the River”, Murder in the Rough”.
1. How do you think the tragedy Michael experienced as a child influenced the choices he made as an adult? At what point in one’s life is the past no longer an excuse for bad decisions?
2. In what ways did Michael’s uncle help or hurt him? Do you think he provided proper guidance? Did his actions in anyway contribute to Michael’s outcome? Do you think he cared and did his best? Should he have know more about Michael’s involvement with the unsavory characters that he became mixed up with?
3. If you listen to Michael’s inner voice, he was a young man with morals and a conscience, yet he became mixed up with criminals. Do you think this is because he had no options?
4. Do you think it’s realistic for Michael to risk his life for Amelia? What do you think the driving force in their relationship was? Loneliness? First love? Common bond?
5. Did Michael’s actions and decisions demonstrate courage or cowardice? Would your answer differ if he hadn’t survived the tragedy he suffered at age 8?
6. How effective was the author’s technique of using a silent main character? Did this approach enhance the book? The mystery? Did Michael’s silence make you think about the difficulty of not being able to speak? Was it realistic?
7. Amelia’s father was a manipulative person. Was it acceptable to sacrifice Michael for the safety of his daughter? How much do you think he attributed to the downfall of Michael? Do you think he compromised his daughter in any way? Does the end always justify the means? What do you think motivated him? Greed? Fear? Family?
8. Which characters, if any, grew throughout this book? Did the book or any of the personality traits of the characters provoke thought or teach you anything? Do you think the right people were punished?
9. How well do you think the book examines the effects of trauma on children? Which threads or actions in articular addressed this? Can a child overcome a tragedy such as Michael experienced?
10.The book examines the redemptive powers of art and the power being accepted by peers has on a person. Discuss this both from the perspective of the book’s characters and real life experiences.
11. Considering the outcome of the main characters involved in this story, do you think Michael regretted his decision?
12. The author shifts between the past and present and gradually converges the two. Did this method suit the story line? Was it seamless or at anytime confusing?
(Questions by PBR. Please feel free to use them with acknowledgment.)
Minotaur Books, March 1, 2011 - Fiction - 336 pages|
Winner of The Edgar Award for Best Novel of the Year.
Winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger.
A New York Times Notable Crime Book.
Winner of The Barry Award for Best Novel of the Year.
Michael is no ordinary young man. Mute since a childhood tragedy, at age eighteen he discovers that he possesses a skill he would never have expected. Whether it's a locked door without a key, a padlock with no combination, or even an eight-hundred pound safe . . . he can open them all.
It's a talent that will make Michael a hot commodity with the wrong people, and whether he likes it or not, push him closer to a life of crime. Until one day, when he finally sees his chance to escape, and decides to risk everything to return home to the only person he ever loved, and to unlock the secret that has kept him silent for so long.