A traumatized boy grows into a world-class safecracker.
Every gangster knows that a boxman is the guy who opens boxes (safes) with precious things in them. Michael Smith’s acquaintances know that he’s an artist among boxmen, someone who, like more conventional artists, is at a loss to explicate the mysteries—partly because he doesn’t talk. When he was eight, Michael states on the first page, a headline-grabbing horror changed his life forever, setting him on his less-traveled path. He still can’t tell us about it, “but maybe one of these days as I’m writing, I’ll get to…that day in June of 1990.” Nine years later, however, 17-year-old Michael suddenly realizes that he can unlock just about anything. This skill, of course, makes him valuable to a wide range of no-goods, some of them just greedy, others downright predatory. But it also brings him to Amelia, with whom he falls irrevocably in love. In order to protect her from dangers more imagined than real, hopelessly romantic Michael is drawn into a multimillion-dollar con game as deadly as it is elaborate. Isolated, deeply enmeshed and mind-numbingly scared, Michael will be hard-pressed to feel his way toward solving a perilous, no-exit, locked-box mystery.
Readers may tire of lock lore a bit earlier than Hamilton (Night Work, 2007, etc.), but sharp prose and a strong cast should keep them in line.