LIFE or DEATH
by Michael Robotham
Why would a man escape from prison the day before he's due to be released?
Audie Palmer has spent a decade in prison for an armed robbery in which four people died, including two of the gang. Seven million dollars has never been recovered and everybody believes that Audie knows where the money is.
For ten years he has been beaten, stabbed, throttled and threatened almost daily by prison guards, inmates and criminal gangs, who all want to answer this same question, but suddenly Audie vanishes, the day before he's due to be released.
Everybody wants to find Audie, but he's not running. Instead he's trying to save a life . . . and not just his own.
Australian author Michael Robotham, already acclaimed both in Australia and internationally, takes a different direction in this novel: not the next in his Ruiz and O'Loughlin series set in Britain, but a stand-alone set in Texas. For me it shows another step, a necessary one, for Robotham in his development as a novelist. And one that I think will be popular with American readers.
Audie Palmer is a survivor - first of all from a gunshot that shattered his cranium, and then a decade where every other inmate in the prison seemed to want to be the one who killed Audie Palmer. As the day for his release looms Audie knows he is not going to make it to freedom alive.
The story is told from Audie's point of view, but in the third person, and we gradually piece together Audie's life before the armed robbery, and then his part in the robbery. We understand what has kept him going for a decade and why he escapes the day before his release date. But will he survive on the run as he tries to put the record straight?
There is a cinematographic quality to this story and I would not be surprised to find it optioned for a film.
LIFE OR DEATH puts Robotham right up there with modern crime fiction writers. It is a tightly plotted thriller with a roller coaster of suspense. It has made it into my top 5 reads for this year.
Review by Kerrie Smith, MYSTERIES IN PARADISE
About Michael Robotham:
An Australian writer, born in Casino, NSW.
A former journalist, Robotham went to London where he worked as a reporter and sub-editor for various UK national newspapers before becoming a staff feature writer on The Mail on Sunday. He rose to become deputy features editor before resigning in May 1993. He then went on to become a ghostwriter, collaborating on fifteen "autobiographies" for people in the arts, politics, the military and sport. Twelve of these titles became Sunday Times bestsellers. In 1996 he returned to Australia with his family and continued writing full-time. In 2002, a partial manuscript of his first novel THE SUSPECT, became the subject of a bidding war at the London Book Fair. It was later translated into 22 languages and sold over a million copies around the world.