Book: The Lock Artist, Steve Hamilton.
Summary: Marked by tragedy, traumatized at the age of eight, Michael, now eighteen, is no ordinary young man. Besides not uttering a single word in ten years, he discovers the one thing he can somehow do better than anyone else. 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.
This book won the 2011 Edgar Awards for Best Novel, presented by the Mystery Writers of America, and it's one of the 10 Alex Award winners for 2011 - an honor presented to books written for adults that will also appeal to teens. That's some serious accolades, so I expected that I would enjoy this book - and that I did. It was an interesting, un-putdownable read.
The chapters, narrated by the main character Michael, alternate with life before he started picking locks, and life after - and this worked for me as a way to get both the back-story (something seriously bad happened to him as a kid, so he doesn't speak), and the current story (where he's a lock-picking, safe-cracking master-mind). But while I'm not sure I loved all the details given on lock-picking - just wasn't interested and didn't understand anyway - that didn't get in the way of this good, solid book that I would definitely recommend as a quick, fun read. There are glimpses into the events that shaped Michael's life and led him towards a life of crime, and away from him using his talents as an artist - and the author really did a fantastic job in creating a deep, multi-faceted character, and showing how the people around him influenced his life. Loved it!!!
Book: Radiant Days, Michael A. Fitzgerald
Summary: During the last days of the Balkan War in the summer of 1995, Anthony, a hapless American uncomfortable with the dot-com mania that allows him to live a pampered existence in San Francisco, agrees to join Gisela, a beauty he barely knows, in a search for her son lost in a Hungarian orphanage.
The characters in this book were definitely memorable - Anthony ... dude I kept hoping you would get a clue about being used by that selfish, skanky biatchhh, Gisela! Oh well ... it made for an interesting book, especially with the not-so-subtle contrast between how good Americans have it that we complain about dumb things - like making a lot of money at a boring job - compared to people who have to struggle to survive serious sh%zzle, like war. The strength of this novel is definitely it's vivid description of Hungary & Croatia, as well as the depth of all the characters - flaws & all. My only quibble with the author, is that the reason for Gisela really going to Hungary was never fully explained ... or not in any believable way. Still, I liked this book - although it was just okay for me - but the writing was rather good and I would read another book by Fitzgerald in a heartbeat.
Thanks Tanya for sharing the two mysteries that you read for March. I don't know if a whole lot of information about picking locks would interest me either but in the end it seems that you did love reading the story.
Until next time, keep curling up with a good book....