Archive for May, 2010

The Book of Lies

May 26, 2010

Cover of The Book of Lies

Author:  Brad Meltzer

Title: The Book of Lies

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date:  2008

Number of Pages:  336

Geographical Setting:  various locations in south Florida, Cleveland, Ohio, and others

Time Period:  Current

Series: NA

Plot Summary: Calvin Harper, currently a social worker but formerly a federal agent with Immigrations and Customs, marks the discovery of his long-estranged father, Lloyd, as the second most life-changing event of his life.  Lloyd had served 19 years in prison after the accidental death of his wife, and when Cal stumbles upon him, bleeding from a gunshot wound in a park in Ft. Lauderdale, the plot rapidly escalates.  The gun used to injure Lloyd turns out to be the same weapon used in the murder of one Mitchell Siegel, the father of the young comic-book writer who created Superman.  Meltzer uses this real-life unsolved mystery to craft the story of The Book of Lies. The Harpers team up to not only to survive a deadly hitman, but also to solve a riddle involving a secret society and the hunt for the murder weapon that Cain used to slay Abel, long thought lost to antiquity.  The link between the world’s first villain and the world’s greatest hero is revealed as the novel comes crashing to a climax.

Subject Headings:  Conspiracies, Conspiracy Theories, Father and Son, Action, Secret Societies, Suspense, Codes and Ciphers

Appeal:  breakneck pace, dangerous, edgy, emotionally-charged, menacing, realistic, strong secondary characters, cinematic, action-oriented, direct, straightforward, dramatic

Three terms that best describe this book:  relentless, plot-driven, dramatic.

Similar Authors and Works:

Non-Fiction –

Edward Alden – The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration, and Security Since 9/11: Alden examines the role of U.S. immigration, customs, and border patrol enforcement in a post 9/11 environment.

Alan M. Dershowitz – The Genesis of Justice: Ten Stories of Biblical Injustice that led to the Ten Commandments and Modern Law:  Dershowitz explores the book of Genesis and how it relates to modern concepts of justice.

Gerard Jones – Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book:  Jones recounts the story of both the creation of Superman and the birth of the modern American comic book.

Fiction –

David Baldacci – The Camel Club:  Also gifted in the craft of suspense, Baldacci tells the story of a massive government conspiracy centered on the murder of a secret service agent.

Joseph Finder – Paranoia:  A low-level telecom employee, Adam Cassidy, stumbles into a world of corporate conspiracy after hacking into corporate accounts.

Manda Scott – The Crystal Skull:  Here, Scott centers the story on two protagonists, separated by centuries of time, as they both race to discover the mystery of an ancient Mayan prophecy.

Name:  Garrett Gottschalk

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

May 26, 2010


Author:  Steig Larsson

Title:  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Genre: Adrenaline/ Mystery

Publication Date:  2008

Geographical Setting:  Stockholm/ Sweden

Time Period:  present day

Series:  first book of Millennium trilogy

Plot Summary:

Mikael Blomkivist was a respected journalist, as well as founder and publisher of Millennium magazine, who built a career exposing financial corruption. After losing a libel case against Wennerstrom, a crooked but well protected venture capitalist, Blomkivist anticipates a jail sentence, financial collapse and the sinking of his magazine. In a moment of uncharacteristic desperation, Blomkivist answers the call of Dirch Frode, a lawyer intently seeking the journalist’s services on behalf of his client. Henrik Vanger is the retired patriarch of the Vanger family- a long-standing name in Swedish finance. Vanger seeks Blomkivist assistance in investigating the cold-case disappearance of his niece Harriet that occurred 40 years earlier.

Little does Blomkivist know that before meeting Frode or accepting Vanger’s offer he was being watched. Lisbeth Salander, mysterious and meticulous sleuth who looks more like a punk rocker than professional investigator, had already compiled his full profile for Frode, a client of Milton Security. Promises that the Wennerstrom case and Vanger’s desire to employ Blomkivist are not to be believed.

Blomkivist and Salander become unlikely partners attempting to solve the mystery the Vanger family’s grisly, dysfunctional history. The pair finds themselves in dangerous territory as they unravel a tale of torture and serial killings against a backdrop of astonishing corruption.

Larsson’s book has won several awards including Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel, Anthony Award for Best First Novel, British Book Award 2009 Crime Thriller of the Year, Library Journal Best Books 2008.

Subject Headings:  Mystery Thriller, Cold cases (Criminal investigation), Murder investigation, Journalists, Hackers, Violence against women, Swedish fictionTranslations into English, award winner/best seller

Appeal Terms: complex, multi-layered, strong characters, sexy, dark, corrupt, violent, fast paced, tense, financial thriller, dangerous, exciting, grisly, dramatic, award winning

Three terms that describe this book: multi-layered, sexy, financial thriller.

The next two books in the series are:

The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Relevant Fiction Works:

Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg

When her six-year-old neighbor falls to his death, and no one is willing to suspect foul play, Smilla Qaavigaaq Jasperson finds her own investigation taking her into the files of a Danish company.

Similarities: Strong, unusual female protagonist, conspiracy reaching back to WWII, multi-layered story

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
A black female elevator inspector must prove that her method of inspection by intuition, as opposed to visual observation, is not at fault when an elevator in a new city building crashes.

Similarities: Strong female protagonist, negotiating career in jeopardy, intertwining multiple plotlines
Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin

Twenty years after Jens disappeared without a trace from the island of Oland, a package is mailed to the boy’s grandfather that contains the worn and mended shoe of a child, prompting the grandfather to contact the child’s mother, resume the hunt for the boy, and make a shocking connection between Jens’s disappearance and the island’s most notorious murder case.

Similarities: Translated Swedish author, Father-daughter relationship

Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

The boys on the tracks: death, denial, and a mother’s crusade to bring her son’s killers to justice by Mara Leveritt

Linda Ives’s simple search for truth in the case of her son, who along with a friend was killed by being pushed in front of a train, reveals a frightening web of multiple murders, government corruption, and political scandal

Similarities: Cold case/ unsolved mystery, murder investigation

The house of Mondavi: the rise and fall of an American wine dynasty by Julia Flynn Siler

Traces four generations of a Napa Valley wine-making family, from the arrival of Italian immigrant Cesare Mondavi at Ellis Island in 1906, to the scandals that rocked the family throughout the twentieth century, to the battle over the family’s billion-dollar fortune.

Similarities: multi-generational family business scandals

The Madoff chronicles: inside the secret world of Bernie and Ruth by Brian Ross

Discusses the multi-billion dollar ponzi scheme masterminded by Bernard Madoff, including his motives for the financial betrayal and others who were involved in the scheme.

Similarities: White-collar crime, fraud and corruption investigation


May 26, 2010

Author: Karin Slaughter

Title: Undone

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 436

Geographical Setting: Atlanta, Georgia and neighboring rural Georgia

Time Period: Current

Series: Georgia Series, Volume 1

Plot Summary: The book follows multiple characters as their lives intersect due to a car accident involving a woman named Anna. Anna was accidentally run over by an elderly couple, leading emergency room doctor, Sara Linton, to discover that she had recently been starved and tortured. Detectives for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Will Trent and Faith Mitchell, are assigned Anna’s case when it is quickly discovered that other women are missing under similar circumstances. As Anna remains unconscious and unable to provide any details of her kidnapper or capture, the detectives struggle to save three other missing women while wrestling with their own personal problems. Detective Trent quickly discovers the hidden, underground torture chamber where Anna was kept, but not the other victims. Sara, the widow of a police officer, must work through her past to assist Agents Trent and Mitchell to catch Anna’s captor.

Subject Headings: Women physicians; Accidents; Violence against women; Kidnapping; Torture; Hospitals- Emergency service; Atlanta, Georgia; Suspense stories; Psychological fiction

Appeal: engrossing, relentless, chilling, claustrophobic, multiple points of view, strong secondary characters, multiple plot lines, tragic, contemporary, details of Atlanta and rural Georgia, descriptive, and vivid

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: relentless, multiple plot lines, and tragic

Similar Authors and Works:


  • My Life Among the Serial Killers: Inside the Minds of the World’s Most Notorious Murderers by Helen Morrison and Harold Goldberg: Chilling stories from a forensic psychiatrist who has worked with the FBI; engrossing and descriptive
  • Something for the Pain: One Doctor’s Account of Life and Death in the ER by Paul Austin: Focuses on the psychological impact of working as a doctor in the ER; vivid descriptions; urgent situations
  • Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge: Isolation due to a dysfunctional family; chilling tone; tragic frame; vivid descriptions


  • 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs: Relentless pace with multiple plot lines; part of a mystery/ suspense series; multiple characters trying to solve a murder; dark mood and descriptive style
  • Disturbing the Dead by Sandra Parshall: Part of a romantic suspense series; contains complex story lines; story contains a pair of detectives with personal problems working together; a fast-paced and chilling read
  • Alone by Lisa Gardner: A suspense story with a character who was kidnapped as a child; a fast-paced page-turner; the first book in a detective series; psychological twists

Name: Rebecca Dorsey

Smoke Screen

May 26, 2010

Author: Sandra Brown

Title: Smoke Screen
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: 2008
Number of Pages: 398
Geographical Setting: Charleston, SC
Time Period: Present Day
Series: No
Plot Summary: In this gripping romantic thriller, local newswoman Britt Shelley wakes up to find her friend and occasional lover Jay Burgess dead. Authorities suspect foul play, and Britt suddenly turns from news star into news story. Raley Gannon is Jay’s childhood best friend whose life was derailed in a circumstance similar to Britt’s, when he was found in bed with a dead woman five years before Jay’s death.  The two find themselves in a race to find out what happened to Jay, and just what, if anything, the two deaths have to do with a devastating fire at the Charleston Police Department. Romance and suspense blend together as Raley and Britt encounter a slew of nefarious characters and a major twist that will shock even astute readers.
Subject Headings: Murder, Police Investigations, Charleston, SC, Romantic Suspense, Relationships
Appeal: Plot-centered, fast paced, romantic, suspenseful, action-oriented, racy, edgy, direct, tense, quirky secondary characters, plot twists, conversational style.
Three Terms that Best Describe this Book: fast paced, suspense, racy
Similar Works:
Amber Beach, Elizabeth Lowell (suspense, contemporary romance, adventure scenes)
Mercy, Julie Garwood (suspense, contemporary romance, fast-paced, female protagonist, Southern setting)
Raven on the Wing, Kay Hooper (romantic suspense, contemporary setting, strong female protagonist)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt (murder, Southern setting, eccentric secondary characters)
Devil in the White City, Erik Larson (suspense, murder, fast paced)
My Horizontal Life, Chelsea Handler (racy, adventures, strong female protagonist)

The Road

May 26, 2010

The Road
Author: Cormac McCarthy

Title: The Road

Genre: Adventure  / Disaster Stories

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 256

Geographical Setting: Post apocalyptic America

Time Period: Near Future

Plot Summary:

In this post-apocalyptic adventure set in the near future, all plants and animals have died, cities and towns have been destroyed, and a wind-driven grey ash covers everything. Among this charred and barren wasteland an unnamed man and his young son must to walk down out of the mountains to the ocean to find food and shelter in order to survive the oncoming winter. They carry with them all possession that will fit into a shopping cart along with one pistol and three bullets; everything else is scavenged from items left behind by the missing or dead. Along they journey they encounter marauding gangs, cannibals, prisoners and lone travelers, all who may or may not be bad guys: those who “eat other people”. All the while they are relentlessly moving forward to an unknown place and future. They reach their destination realizing that it was not quite what they expected or remembered and must choose what to do next.

Subject Headings:

Fathers and sons—Fiction

Voyages and travels—United States—Fiction

Regression (Civilization)—Fiction

Survival skills–Fiction





Fiction Read Alikes:

Richard Matheson

I Am Legend

This book has the stark and journalistic language along with the character being the last survivor on earth and waiting in abandoned building at night.  It has the same tone and similar themes.

Nevil Shute

On the Beach

Similar in the telling of what people do in the end of time when oblivion and death are inevitable. They just keep on living and surviving the way they always have.

S.M Sterling.

Dies the Fire Trilogy, 1

This story contains elements of the regression of civilization, survival after a disaster and what happens when the use of modern devises are of no use to the characters.

Non-Fiction Read Alikes:

Piers Paul Reed

Alive: the story of the Andes survivors

Not only a true story of survival and cannibalism but more a tale of how the survivors and others made judgments about the necessary actions.

Laurence Gonzales

Deep survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

A good comparison of how people choose to survive based on past experiences. Where McCarthy leaves this open, Gonzales tries to explain.

Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild

This is a must in the adventure / survival genre but it also deals with one person leaving his past and society behind to willingly live without secure sources of food and shelter and “be nomadic”.

John Talley

Kiss the Girls

May 26, 2010

May 26, 2010

Author:  James Patterson

Title:  Kiss the Girls

Genre:  Fiction – Adrenaline

Publication Date:  1995

Geographical Setting:  South Carolina and San Francisco, CA

Time Period:  1990s

Series:  Alex Cross

Plot Summary:

“Casanova” is kidnapping, torturing, and killing young coeds from South Carolina to Florida, while another killer known as “the Gentleman Caller” with a similar m.o. is claiming victims on the West Coast.  At first, the authorities believe them to be one and the same person operating on both coasts.  It turns out that there are, in fact, two separate murderers and there is a bond of some kind between the two – they are long-time friends who share their warped fantasies with each other.  Psychologist / detective, Alex Cross is assigned to the case when a young woman’s body is found bound and mutilated.  He becomes personally involved with both killers when his niece turns up missing from Duke University.  The evidence indicates that Casanova has kidnapped her.  Cross’s niece has become part of Casanova’s collection of beautiful, intelligent, talented young women.  They have been kidnapped and hidden in underground chambers for Casanova’s personal use, so he can fulfill his secret fantasy.  When he tires of one, becomes disappointed in her, or if she breaks one of his rules, he tortures then kills her.  Naomi (Cross’s niece) realizes that she is not alone in the underground chamber and figures out a way to communicate with the other victims.  Casanova is able to move among the authorities as one of them.  He knows how to cover his tracks and expertly does so.  Cross races against time as he puts the pieces of the “puzzle” together to rescue his niece and the other women before it’s too late.

Subject Headings:  Mystery & Detective Stories, Police Procedural, and Serial Killers

Appeal Terms:  dramatic, violent, fast paced, dark, unsettling, tense, compelling, dangerous, exciting,

chilling, quick-read, psychotic.

Three terms that best describe this book:  dark, suspenseful, and fast paced.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Unnatural Exposure by Patricia Cornwell portrays M.E. Kay Scarpetta dealing with an elusive serial killer.

The Broker by John Grisham is fast-paced and engrossing with a political power broker becoming the object of a CIA plot to see who will assassinate him first.

The Judgment by William J. Coughlin involves a serial killer, political corruption, and a corrupt police chief who is being framed for a crime he didn’t commit by the more-corrupt mayor.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Last Victim:  A True-Life Journey into the Mind of the Serial Killer by Jason Moss and Jeffrey Kottler contains memoirs resulting from interviews with real serial killers.

Zodiac by Robert Graysmith retells the story of the well-known killer in the San Francisco area during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Nightmare in Wichita by Robert Beattie gives an inside look at the 36-year hunt for the bind-torture-kill murderer.

Tags:  Serial Killers, Suspense, Police Procedural, fast-paced.

Nathan’s Run

May 26, 2010
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Author: John Gilstrap

Title: Nathan’s Run

Genre: thriller (crime thriller)

Publication Date: 1996

Plot Summary: 12 year old Nathan Bailey is an escaped murderer. He stabbed his prison guard to death and is now on the loose in Virginia. The whole book is based around this basic problem, but goes to different perspectives of the people who get embroiled in the investigation. There is Warren, who is the lieutenant of the local police department and the detective on the case. His own son died the previous year and he is obviously still dealing with his grief as he draws connections between Nathan and his own son, making him more sympathetic to the fugitive as the case unfolds. We see Nathan’s perspective as he is trying to  remain at large and uncaptured, thinks through his crimes and motives, and tells his story to the radio host, “The Bitch.” Monica is the radio host who receives Nathan’s call as she is discussing his escape and murder on her radio show. Nathan’s Uncle Mark, who had custody of him before his initial arrest is featured and he has an interesting part in the plot (which I won’t give away).

Subject Headings:

Boy murder suspects, Orphans, Fugitives, Juvenile justice system, Suspense stories

Appeals: compelling, emotionally-charged, sarcastic, philosophical, archetypal, multiple points of view, character-centered, puzzle, cinematic, episodic, issue-oriented, strong language, thought-provoking, sad, simple, straightforward, jaded

3 words to describe book: fugitive, multiple perspectives, philosophical

Read a likes:


The Client -John Grisham

This book is similar to Nathan’s Run, in that a kid is being tracked by organized crime because of a crime he witnessed. This is slightly different in that it is also a lawyer type of thriller. Mark is 11. He witnesses a guy who tries to kill himself by gassing himself in his car in the woods. Mark and his little brother, Ricky, are in the woods at the time. Ricky goes into shock and has to be institutionalized. Mark tries to stop the guy. The man, before he shoots himself, tells Mark that he is a lawyer who was defending a mafia person. The mafia man killed a senator and the lawyer tells Mark where the body is. So now, Mark has to help his brother and save his family, without being killed by the mafia tying up loose ends. The family gets the eccentric lawyer, Reggie Love, to try and end the chaos before they all end up dead.

New York Dead – Stuart Woods

This is the first book in the Stone Barrington series. Stone Barrington is a humble detective in a snotty setting. On Manhattan’s Upper East Side, irresistibly famous and sexy Sasha falls 12 stories from her condo right in front of Stone… He always seems to be in the middle of the action. But, she is still alive. When her ambulance gets into a crash, she disappears. Stone doesn’t believe that Sasha’s lesbian lover is the killer, so he goes beyond the NYPD investigations to find out himself. This is a read alike for those who like melodramtic detective thrillers with sexual undertones.

The Bone Collector – Jeffery Deaver

This is the first book in the Lincoln Rhyme series. Lincoln Rhyme is the main character throughout these series, who is a criminologist (famous and extraordinary in the novel’s world). He gets in a bad accident which scared him and injured him. He cannot rest, though, because a serial killer is on the loose. He and his side kick Amelia Sachs go through New York City following clues the egotistical killer leaves behind on purpose. This is good if you like another thriller with a sexual tension and a puzzle to solve.


Juvenile – Joseph Rodriguez

This addresses the philosophical controversy thread throughout the book about juveniles in prison, what it’s like, and the issues behind it. In Gilstrap’s novel, the radio host and callers, as well as the detective and his family discuss whether Nathan is to blame and how he should be punished.

Hidden evidence: Forty true crimes and how forensic science helped to solve them – David Owen

This discusses how detectives solve crimes. In Gilstrap’s book, Warren is the detective in the book trying to find Nathan, the boy killer, based on clues and leads he finds throughout the books. Readers would want to see how real detectives do this.

Villains’ paradise: A history of Britain’s Underworld – Donald Thomas

True crime of organized crime, including mafia and gangs. This is for people who like to read about history. It also involves crime, which is the basis for Gilstrap’s thriller.

The Cove

May 26, 2010

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Title: The Cove

Author: Catherine Coulter

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Publication Date: 1996

Number of Pages: 327

Geographical Setting: Cove, Oregon

Time Period: Present day

Series: Yes, the FBI series

Plot Summary:  Sally St. John is on the run–from an FBI agent, from her husband, and from her psychiatrist. She has recently escaped from a mental facility where she was institutionalized for killing her abusive father, a high-powered corporate attorney. Sally flees to The Cove, a small town in Oregon where she takes refuge with her eccentric Aunt Amabel. Tension runs high in this page-turner, as Sally frantically works to get her memory back, and to find out what really happened the night of her father’s murder. Ms. Coulter has written a suspenseful novel full of unexpected events, creepy characters, and a small town reminiscent of Twin Peaks, Washington.

Subject Headings: Women murder suspects; FBI agents; Emotional abuse; Physical abuse; Protectiveness in men; Murder investigation; Fathers–Death.

Appeal:  Fast-paced, action-oriented, plot twists, dangerous, edgy, engrossing, psychological, strong second characters, romantic, suspenseful, contemporary, small-town

Three Words or Phrases Best Describing this Book:  Fast-paced, suspenseful, plot twists

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Memory and Amnesia: An Introduction by Alan J. Parkin is an easy-to-read, somewhat humorous introduction to this mental condition.

Refusing Treatment in Mental Health Institutions-Values in Conflict is an examination of patient’s rights and mental health laws of various states by A. Edward Doudera and Judith P. Swazey.

“Not to People Like Us:” Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages by psychotherapist Susan Weitzman explores the culture of spousal abuse in affluent society.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Lisa Gardner’s The Other Daughter provides themes of ugly family secrets and a romantic relationship with an FBI Agent.

See Jane Run by Joy Fielding is a novel of a woman suffering from amnesia who is being gaslighted by her husband.

Secrets of a Small Town: Small Town Mayhem by Jean Buonanno features a small Baptist town named Palm Cove where things are not as tranquil as they seem.

Jane Bessette

Zane’s Trace

May 26, 2010

Author: Allan Wolf

Title: Zane’s Trace

Genre: Adventure

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 177

Geographical Setting: U.S.A. (West Virginia and Ohio)

Time Period: Present day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:

17 year old Zane Guesswind, an epileptic who also suffers from hypergraphia (the overwhelming urge to write), finds himself driving a stolen 1969 Plymouth Barracuda to his schizophrenic mother’s gravesite in Zanesville, Ohio after believing that he has killed his grandfather by writing him out of the world with a Sharpie.  As the numbers on the mile markers dwindle, Zane also embarks on a journey through his past and starts to learn more about who he is and where he came from.

Zane picks up a mysterious hitchhiker at The Happy Days Diner, 288 miles from his destination.  Her name is Libba and although she has to have the last word in any discussion she does give Zane insights into his past that he never could have expected.  As the Barracuda eats up the miles, Zane also meets several other characters, some real and some imagined (or are they?), who also provide him with pieces to the puzzle that is his life.

Presented in verse form, this fast paced and energetic novel puts the reader in the back seat of that Plymouth Barracuda along with Zane and Libba.

Subject Headings:

Epilepsy; Orphans; Interracial persons; Family; Death; Automobile travel; Loss (Psychology); Grief; Guilt; Suicide; Mental illness; Self-discovery; Novels in verse


energetic, fast moving, engrossing, fierce, reckless, compelling, cynical/sarcastic, humorous, spiritual, earnest, melancholy, trippy, quirky, supernatural, cathartic

3 terms that best describe this book: tight; charismatic characters;  wild ride

Similar Authors and Works:


1)      Before and Again by Doris Mortman

Callie, the daughter of a schizophrenic who committed suicide, searches for answers after she begins having the same sort of disturbing dreams that destroyed her mother.

2)      Night of the Radishes by Sandra Benitez

Annie Rush has dealt with various family tragedies which prompts her to try and find her long lost brother.  Along the way she must decide who she really is.

3)      The Rhythm of the Road: A Novel by Albyn Leah Hall

Another novel involving road trips and hitchhikers, this one centers on Jo Pickering, who travels everywhere with her truck driving father.  When they pick up a female country singer, Jo’s life is forever changed.


1)      Flight of Passage: A Memoir by Rinker Buck

Two teenage brothers fly a plane over the U.S.  This adventure eventually brings them closer to their father and to each other.

2)      The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain by Alice Flaherty

Flaherty talks about how hypergraphia affected her as a writer and as a person.

3)      The Mourner’s Dance: What We Do When People Die by Katherine Ashenburg

Rituals of death are explored in this book and how different cultures deal with death is also examined.

Name: Valerie Kyriakopoulos

the lock artist

May 26, 2010

Author: Hamilton, Steve

Title: The Lock Artist: A Novel

Genre: Crime Fiction, Thriller, Romance

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages:  304

Geographical Setting: Milford, Michigan and both coasts

Time Period: From 1991 to the present

Series: Not as of this writing

Plot Summary:  In a first person narrative, 18-year-old Mike imparts to the reader that a traumatic experience when he was 8-years-old has left him unable to speak.  He also reveals that a unique talent for picking locks has brought him into association with unsavory characters and resulted in his current wardrobe, an orange jumpsuit. He wants to unburden himself of his story, revealing a journey that takes him from his Michigan home to both coasts, while working for a mysterious boss in Detroit whom he is warned never to cross. Mike longs to find his voice and reconnect with his one true love, Amelia, with whom he shares an artistic talent for drawing.  Hamilton drops clues about Mike’s childhood trauma throughout the book, which contains a lot of research about safecracking, sign language and the effects of childhood trauma on the human psyche.  Will Mike dare to escape prison using his special skills?

Subject Headings: Lock picking fiction, Criminals fiction, Mystery fiction

Appeal:  deliberate, bittersweet, candid, dangerous, earnest, melancholy, unpretentious, intriguing, lifelike, character-centered, flashbacks, plot twists, frank, well-researched, direct

3 terms that best describe this book: non-linear, tantalizing, well-researched

3 relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Boxman: A Professional Thief’s Journey by William J. Chambliss

Written by a professor of sociology at the George Washington University and past president of the American Society of Criminology and the Society for the Study of Social Problems, this book offers insight into why someone becomes a professional thief.

Catch Me If You Can: the amazing true story of the youngest and most daring con man in the history of fun and profit by Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., with Stan Redding

This book is similar to Mike’s story in that Abagnale leaves home at a young age to pursue a criminal lifestyle because of a disrupted home life.

The Untouched Key: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and Destructiveness by Alice Miller

Following a childhood trauma, Michael becomes a gifted boxman and visual artist. This book connects childhood trauma to adult creativity and injurious behavior.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Nobody’s Safe by Richard Steinberg

This is a story about a master thief who finds himself in great danger after a murder occurs while he is burglarizing an apartment. He finds what the murderers wanted, in the apartment’s safe.  Like Mike, he finds himself involved in something bigger than his own not quite legal goals.

The ha-ha: a novel by Dave King

In a similar theme to The Lock Artist, the protagonist is mute but finds a way to reconnect with life through his high school sweetheart.

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers

Like The Lock Artist, this story is told by a teenaged first person narrator who is dealing with life in the justice system.

Rosemary Sullivan