The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

There are two unusual things about Michael: he hasn't spoken a word since his childhood and he can open any lock or safe without a key or combination. It's these two things that make him the perfect 'boxman' -- someone who is employed by thieves and con men to break into homes and open safes. Michael never wanted to get involved in crime. In fact, with his amazing talent at drawing, he was possibly on his way to art college. But one break and enter sends him doing community service for Mr. Marsh, a man in trouble with big crime bosses and the father of Amelia, who Michael falls in love with. When Michael finds out Amelia will be in danger unless he works for the crime bosses, he agrees to take up the job as boxman. He's given a 5 colour coded pagers -- each one that goes off will lead him to a different 'job'. Soon Michael finds himself in a dangerous world of felony, murder and deception with no way out.

I rarely read adult fiction and many attempts at reading adult novels only seem to confirm that I really rather read kids and teen literature. There are exceptions once in a while though, and this would be one of them.The story is told in parts alternating between Michael's childhood and more recent events of his life, with the events converging at the end so that the complete story is revealed. I thought this was well done and made the storytelling more intriguing. The plot itself kept me interested the whole way through; there was a fair amount of mystery about what traumatic event caused Michael to stop speaking and each job he was called to provided some good action (trigger crazy security guards, thieves turning on each other, etc.). And while there is some romance and heavy issues surround Michael's past, the author never portrays Michael as overly emotional or spend an excessive amount of time taking about his feelings. I think that the whole idea of someone being able to open locks and safes without keys and combinations, and getting employed by criminals to do it is pretty fascinating -- and I would guess that most teen guys would too.
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