Bumsted Books of the Year - Michael's Pick

Thursday Dec 01 2011
by Whodunit

I must admit that once again there were not a lot of new mysteries in my catalogue this year. As a result, once again my favourite book of the year is from off the beaten path. The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton won the Edgar for Best Book of the Year, so it should really come as no surprise that it appears here. Written as a retrospective memoir, it is the story of a deaf teenager who works across the United States as a freelance safe-cracker.

Steve Hamilton is perhaps better known for his series featuring Alex McKnight, and just as in that series, he relies on his familiarity of Michigan and its locales as the setting for most of the book. With this knowledge allowing him to root his characters in rich detailed locations, it allows his characters to fill the space rather than simply occupy it.

The mystery of the book is built into the retrospective style, told in the first person and in the past tense, there is a little bit of suspense lost in the fact that we know that the main character, Michael, starts the book in prison, but alive. That said, Hamilton manages to build suspense through the non-linear nature of the storytelling and by offering a number of well reasoned twists at the end.

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