8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Audie Palmer has been in prison for ten years for an armed robbery that went wrong. Although two of the gang died and Audie was arrested, the stolen $7 million has never been found. Since Audie's brother is suspected of being the fourth gang member, everyone assumes he's living a life of luxury somewhere and that Audie will get his share when he gets out. So why would Audie suddenly choose to escape, just one day before he's due to be released? It seems he has made a promise that he must keep - but there are people who want to stop him. So not only is Audie running from the law, he's in a race to fulfil his mission before he loses his life...
I've been enjoying working my way through Michael Robotham's Joe O'Loughlin series recently, so grabbed the opportunity to read this new standalone novel. From the moment Audie escapes right at the beginning, the plot begins to twist and turn. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that the reader is very much on Audie's side - we're not sure why he ended up in jail, but we're soon convinced that he's an honourable man and his intentions must be good. As we follow him on his present-day mission, we gradually find out about his past - the brother whose drug abuse and criminality brought Audie under suspicion more than once, the crime lord he ended up working for, the girl he fell in love with. And it gradually becomes clear that these past events are in some way connected to the present.
The book is told mostly in the present tense but in the third person and, although Audie's is the main viewpoint, we also see through the eyes of Desiree, one of the FBI agents on the case, and Moss, a former prison-mate of Audie's. Desiree has had the original robbery on her books as a cold case, but when Audie escapes her boss takes over the investigation and seems to want to keep Desiree out. But the diminutive Desiree is stubborn and she's determined to be in on it, especially since she's not sure things are quite what they seem on the surface. Moss is a great character - inside for life on the three strikes rule, he suddenly finds himself freed on condition that he hunts Audie down. But will Moss put his chance of freedom above his friendship for Audie? Even he doesn't seem too sure...
As always with Robotham, the characterisation is very strong. Audie himself might be just a shade too perfect to be fully credible, but that's more than compensated for by the characters of Moss and Desiree, both of whom come over as wholly believable and likeable. It takes a while for us to suspect who the baddies are but, when we do, boy, are they bad! And if Audie wants to keep the promise that he made ten years earlier, he has to be running towards the baddies rather than away...
This is a fast-paced rollercoaster of a thriller that reminded me of Harlan Coben at his best (and also just a bit of the Shawshank Redemption). Definitely movie material - has it been snapped up yet, I wonder? Loads of action, strong characters, great writing, a twisty plot and an explosive ending - this is the thriller of the year for me so far. Highly recommended, either for existing fans of the O'Loughlin series or as a great way for new readers to sample Robotham's work.
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Little, Brown Book Group UK.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Audie Palmer has spent ten years in jail when he escapes from prison, without telling anyone of his plans. He was sentenced after a robbery on an armoured truck led to four deaths, Audie himself horribly injured, one man – Audie’s brother –missing and seven million dollars unaccounted for. .. Through all of the ten years Audie has spent in prison he has suffered threats, beatings and countless attempts on his life by people hoping to get their hands on the money. So, with his jail term almost over, his actions make no sense. Why would a man about to be released escape from prison a day early when, if caught, he could face another, harsher sentence?
During his time in prison, Audie’s closest friend has been Moss Webster. Now Moss finds himself sent to locate – and betray – his friend. Also on Audie’s trail is Special Agent Desiree Furness, while Sheriff Ryan Valdez (the man who nearly killed Audie after the robbery), of Dreyfus County, also offers to help with the search. During this fast paced, well plotted and exciting thriller, we are taken through Audie’s life and discover what happened ten years ago, what Audie hopes to accomplish, what happened to the money and why so many people want him dead?
I really enjoyed this novel, peopled with sympathetic main characters and which did not let down the pace from start to finish. This really is a roller coaster ride in every sense of the world and yet the author effortlessly holds together all the different strands of the plot; both past and present. If you enjoy really well written thrillers, then you will certainly enjoy this. I have never read anything by this author before, but as this is a stand-alone novel it is a great introduction to his work and I will certainly be reading more by him in the future. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Audie Palmer escapes prison the day before he is due to be released. Palmer has spent ten years in prison for an armed robbery in which four people were killed, including two members of his gang. The $7 million stolen during the robbery has never been recovered, and Palmer has never revealed its location despite years of beatings and threats. His (missing) brother is suspected of being a gang member, and (if he is) it seems logical to conclude that he has the money and that Audie will be in touch. Once Audie is on the run, a number of different people are trying to find him, including the FBI, and his former cellmate Moss Webster who is freed to try to track him down. Some hope that he will lead them to the money; most are wondering why he chose to escape the day before he would have been released.
‘You want to know why he escaped, but that’s the wrong question. You should be asking why he didn’t do it sooner.’
Audie Palmer has his own reasons for escaping. These gradually become clear to the reader as the story unfolds. With so many people in pursuit, it seems unlikely that Audie will survive. Along the way he forms some fleeting friendships, some of which unfortunately end in death as those pursuing Audie are not concerned about collateral damage.
‘There are moments in life when important choices have to be made. If we’re lucky we get to make them, but more often they’re made for us.’
This is a fast-paced story which I could not put down. The characters are well developed and believable, the setting realistic. While the story is mostly from Audie’s viewpoint, we also see some aspects from Moss’s perspective, and from one of the FBI agents involved.
This is a standalone novel: one which Michael Robotham (according to his website) has been considering for over twenty years. It’s one of the best crime thrillers I have read this year.
‘Odds don’t change because a coin has landed on the same side a dozen times or more.’
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Life Or Death kicks off with a perfect poser: why would you escape from prison one day before being released? The mystery manhunt which follows maintains that level of intrigue and suspense, gradually untangling the events which pushed Audie Palmer into going over the wall when 24 hours later he would’ve been a free man.
Using flashbacks to explain Audie’s present predicament by revealing the events which led up to the failed security van heist and his incarceration, keeps the core mystery shrouded in suspense and pushes the pace along. Although the author embellishes the plot with colourful incidental characters, they’re deftly drawn in a few paragraphs so the text isn’t saturated in extended, irrelevant history. The key figures essential to the plot are all a little bit quirky, easily recognisable as genre players, but each unusual enough to capture the attention.
There's more thoughts on the plot and characters over at murdermayhemandmore.net
At its heart, Life Or Death is an old-fashioned love story, a book about manning up and doing the right thing. In the telling, it builds a picture of small-scale crime, organised gangsters, corrupt cops and the politicians they serve – and shows how many otherwise innocent lives are twisted first in the commission of a murderous conspiracy, and then in keeping it quiet. No matter what the cost.
The author has an easy-going style; the action flips between several characters’ perspectives and different times. There’s enough detail to push the plot along but no so much that you think you wandered into a history class by mistake. There are several tense moments when you genuinely don't know how a stand-off is going to unfold; when all seems lost (but the author has a goodly number of credible tricks up his sleeve).
In short, an engaging mystery with a solid moral centre. A perfect book for the beach.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
If you enjoyed the movies ‘The Fugitive’ and ‘US Marshals’ then you should certainly enjoy this book. Here we meet Audie Palmer, who, on the day before his release escapes from the penitentiary. But what would drive a man to escape prison when he only has another day to go, and upon capture could face ending up doing more time in prison than he already has?
This story, which goes back to the past in flashbacks and then into the present gives us a compelling and tautly suspenseful tale. Audie was serving time for his supposed participation in the violent robbery of an armoured truck, but was he really one of the criminals? As you read this story things slowly start falling into place, although chances are you will already be one step ahead. With more than just the official sources looking for Audie there seem to be others as we find out why Audie had to escape prison before his time out was due.
Taking in corruption, politics and violence this tale also shows us the power of love, and what friendship and loyalty really means. But for Audie it could all be useless unless others believe him and in him, especially one diminutive FBI agent, Desiree Furness. With others looking for the re-capture or death of Audie, Desiree starts to realise that there is a web of corruption that leads quite high up that surrounds the case of Audie Palmer.
An action packed tale that is fast paced and full of intrigue and suspense this is really something that grabs hold of you and holds your attention to the last page. This would make a great film and perhaps one day we may have one, but for the moment at least this is a thriller that is well worth reading.
I was kindly provided with a review copy of this by the publisher via NetGalley.
on 25 July 2015
Audie Palmer is his own man and is on a mission which starts by escaping gaol the day before he is released. So what’s going on?
This gritty thriller gives up its secrets in measured doses and kept me guessing right through. Audie’s character is great, he is just the sort of guy you want on your side. It is a real good guy vs bad guy story but working out who is who is not so simple.
I enjoyed how Robotham introduces Audie without telling his history and secrets too quickly, and enables us to get right into his psyche.
“The night is over. Audie leans against a damp wall and writes a list of the things he needs. Other people would be running. They would be selling their watch, the gold in their teeth, a spare kidney; they would be catching a bus to Mexico or Canada or working passage on a container ship or swimming to Cuba. Perhaps he desires his own destruction, although Adie doubts he has the necessary moral fibre to support a death wish.”
There are some really great lines which sang to me as I was reading. Some of them are important and serious, and some were clearly lighthearted but no way detracted from its darker meaning. My favourite line says a universal truth:
Waiting sounds like a passive thing, but it wasn’t for Audie.
There is a great balance of humour with the thrills throughout the book such as this which shows the dark side of characters painting a picture I had in my mind when I read it:
"Mercenaries with made-up names, Jake and Stav, they won’t speak unless they have something to say. They’ll do their job as long as they're paid. Jake has long hair tied back in a ponytail, but he’s receding at the front, as if the tide were going out leaving his eyebrows behind.”
The narrative connected with emotions, that took me into the excitement of the chase.
“Looking up and down the sand, he’s filled with a desperate, almost suffocating sadness and sense of abandonment. Why does the world have so little need of him. Why can’t it just be ambivalent?”
Later in the book enters Special Agent Desiree Furness, knee high to a grasshopper short, she is the person who gave me the ‘finally a good cop whose going to do something’ feeling, and she does not disappoint with her quiet but determined character.
It’s great how the strong characters have not necessarily been thrust forward right at the beginning or have remained in the spotlight of the plot. This is quite clever because all of the players are layered in such a way that it keeps the suspense of where it is leading.
Many thanks to the publisher for a copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
on 17 July 2015
From the very beginning readers are drawn to the question as to why Audie Palmer would break jail the day before his release? What was so important that he needed to escape a day early? What outcome is he hoping to achieve?
Readers are gradually introduced to the various episodes in Audie's past that drive his present actions, in a way that still leaves readers guessing as to the reasons for his actions.
The several threads of the story knit together in a way that never telegraphs the likely outcome, and so is a gripping and compulsive read from the very start.
A departure from Michael Robotham's previous books sees this story set in America, and the scene-setting captures the flavour of the U.S. in a lucid and evocative way. Some great lines - "Houston Public Library on McKinney Street is the architectural equivalent of a love child conceived by a cement mixer and a cubist painter", and "a church with a sign out front: IF YOU REALLY LOVE GOD, SHOW HIM YOUR MONEY." - portray the essence of small-town America!.
While the story primarily concerns Audie, and his prison 'buddy' Moss Webster, it introduces firebrand U.S. Deputy Desiree Furness in a major supporting role - a diminutive lady with a major attitude (‘If I gave up sarcasm that would leave interpretive dance as my only way of communicating.’). Her dogged determination and perseverance, despite placing her at odds with her supervisors, more than make up for her lack of stature, and lead her to prove her case in the end.
I have read several of the Author's previous books, and particularly like the way that a major supporting character in one becomes the lead character in the next. I hope that this may be the case with these 'new' characters, and that both Desiree and Moss may get their own stories in future books.
(This review is based on a copy provided to me by the Publisher via Netgalley.)
I kept reading this one, intrigued. But having recently read The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair (on the surface, very different to Robotham's novel), the twists and conspiracies of that measured up in my eyes to be smarter and better thought through.
This isn't bad though, not at all. What a great premise for a start - a man put in prison for robbery and murder, about to be released, escapes the NIGHT BEFORE he is to be let go. WHY?! The money from the heist was never recovered,,,
Then his former cellmate finds himself released under dubious circumstances, told to find Audie, the missing prisoner. He knows something isn't right, but what? Moss and Audie both narrate segments, along with Desiree, a great 'little' character (speaking in height terms here, not demeaningly), she's spunky and could do with material devoted to her alone. Exceptionally short, she's had to push hard to succeed, and she is bright enough to realise that things don't add up with Aude's original conviction. Will Moss or Desiree turn up anything that shows Audie isn't what he is painted to be?
I never quite felt I understood everything that was going on, but did enjoy the surprises along the way. Audie is a little too saintly though (almost daily beatings in prison for ten years and he keeps his cool?!), and Desiree doesn't get much more do in in the second half than a few revelation scenes and a last-minute dash to the final confrontation moment. She could have been much more a part of it.
Some great minor characters, some of whom get despatched unexpectedly easily. Audie's backstory, when it finally comes, is a good one, very revealing and sad.
This was my first Robotham. I'm not normally much of a thriller/conspiracy reader, and won't read this genre much more often, but it makes a change from my usual reads and I'm glad to have tried a new author.
What causes Audie Palmer to break out of prison the day before he is released from his short sentence for his involvement in an armed robbery? Is it because he knows where the missing money is and wants to disappear to collect it rather than have people watch where he goes or is it for a completely different reason. He has certainly not had it easy in jail, attacked on a regular basis with few people he can trust. One of them, his cell-neighbour, Moss is then "released" himself by persons unknown and set to task to find Audie and bring him in. But does Moss know anymore than anyone else.
As the current day story of his escape progresses, we are shown Audie's life in flashback. How as a child he excelled at school and what happened subsequently to get him to where he ended up. It is a tale of secrets and lies, abuse of power, and it becomes a race against time for Audie as he endeavours to keep a promise and save not only his life but that of another.
This book was reasonably fast paced throughout. There were the odd rest points where the reader had a little respite before the action ramped up another level. The action itself was slick and well plotted, the characters very well fleshed out and totally credible. It was easy to emote with them both in a good and a bad way - a key thing with this genre of book I believe.
And the twists and turns had me practically going round in circles chasing my tail, Who is good, who to believe and more importantly, who to trust?
Audie himself came across as a very unlikely hero but it only goes to show that it's not the cards your are dealt, it's the way you play your hand! I also loved the character of Desiree, a special agent short in stature but big in confidence and who, from the start, begins to question so many things from the original conviction. Why the short sentence, who was the unidentified woman, why some of the forensics didn't correlate with the statements she was pretty much a dog with a bone as she started to dig out the answers.
The ending was perfect, some of it was obvious the set up of which having started quite early on in the book, but there were still some aspects that floored me when eventually, the whole truth was out there.
All in all, a thoroughly satisfying read. My first from this author, but rest assured, it won't be my last!
I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
on 28 June 2015
Many thanks to the publishers for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.
Full review appears on my blog http://thebookbrief.wordpress.com
“Life is short. Love is vast. Live like there’s no tomorrow.”
Audie Palmer is a fugitive. Having escaped from a Texas prison the day before he was due to be released for his part in an armored truck robbery ten years before, he’s wanted by an array of people. There’s the sheriff who caught and shot Audie at the crime scene ten years before. There’s special agent Desiree Furness of the FBI; a plucky, intelligent agent who has worked against prejudices to raise up the ranks. Then there’s Moss, Audie’s best friend in prison who is broken out himself a few days later, and told he must find Audie Palmer or die. Plus an array of side characters, some with wholesome motives and some not so much, all tangled up in a case “riddled with discordant notes like a child plinking the keys of a piano, making noise instead of music.”
This book was amazing. I went into it expecting an easy-reading page turner, and it is that but it’s also so much more. The moment Audie breaks loose from prison a high-speed race across outback Texas breaks out - the characters are out to to find Audie, while the reader just wants to know the truth. Why did he break out a day before he was due to be released? Does he know where the missing $7 million from the robbery is? What’s his plan now? It’s a fast-paced, tense and emotional journey to find out.
The characters throughout the novel are brilliant. I couldn’t help but root for Audie and Moss, even though they are supposed to have committed terrible crimes. Audie is so unique; “the joker in the pack”. He handles prison attacks which would break most men with ease, focusing solely on his own motivations and letting everything else go over his head. Some believe he’s damaged from the gunshot to his head years before, but there’s more to him than that and as the story progresses the driving force behind his actions is gradually revealed in a series of flashbacks. There’s a depth of emotion here which you don’t find in many books in this genre, and it made me fall in love with the characters and the book. It definitely had me welling up on more than one occasion.
The setting is also superb - the world of Texas feels very immersive and realistic, especially considering the writer is from Australia. He picked a clever setting for a gritty crime novel, and he executed it well. Whilst I’ve never visited Texas myself, it feels like he’s done his research. But this isn’t really surprising - the writing throughout is intelligent and elegant. It’s a beautiful novel to read, despite dark subject matters.
I haven’t read any books by this author before, but I’m definitely not going to make this my last. It felt to me like a bit of a mix of Dennis Lehane, Stephen King and maybe Lee Child. But this author definitely has a talent all of his own. A tragic love story and gritty noir thriller are perfectly combined against the backdrop of Texas and it’s got to be one of my favourite novels I’ve read this year. I’d recommend it to anyone - whether you like thrillers or not.