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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeping a promise...
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...
Published 10 months ago by FictionFan

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars So Disappointed
Really disappointed in this not very thrilling thriller--transparent plot, two dimensional characters, comic book-like evil versus good. I miss the more convincing sense of place in Robotham's English thrillers, as well as his interesting psychologist and ex-cop detectives. I ordered the book format so I could pass it on to a friend, but I'll put it in the library...
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeping a promise..., 15 Aug. 2014
By 
FictionFan (Kirkintilloch, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Life or Death (Kindle Edition)
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life or Death, 29 July 2014
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Life or Death (Kindle Edition)
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ‘What sort of idiot escapes the day before his release?’, 16 Oct. 2014
By 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Life or Death (Hardcover)
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.’

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Audie Palmer, 17 May 2015
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Life or Death (Hardcover)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended - whether you like thrillers or not, 28 Jun. 2015
By 
Miss Emma K. Williams (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Life or Death (Kindle Edition)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Life or Death was an excellent read, 19 Jun. 2015
By 
I. Clements (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Life or Death (Kindle Edition)
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The story starts with a compelling question:
- See more at: http://publishing-adventures.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/life-or-death-michael-robotham-review.html#sthash.NWzh38em.dpuf

Why would convicted robber (Audie Palmer), suddenly choose to escape prison after 10 years of confinement, one day before he's due to be released?

So begins the exploration of Audie Palmer's background and the history behind the $7 million dollar robbery that sent him to jail and killed 3 others.

As Michael Robotham develops the story via a richly described series of flashbacks told from individual character perspectives we learn that there is much more at stake than the robbery haul. Audie is keeping a promise that he made 10 years ago and now time, and the odds of success, both seem to be against him.

This story flows at a very fast pace and has enough twists to make you want to read further at the end of each chapter. I really liked Audie Palmer's character in this story and the other main protagonists; Sheriff Ryan Valdez, FBI Agent Desiree Furness, and fellow prisoner Moss Webster.

I have seen several comparisons made to the Shawshank Redemption in other reviews due to the friendship between Audie and Moss in prison and if you liked that or other novels of that genre then I would definitely recommend this.

Life or Death was an excellent read, and it warranted a very rare 5 out of 5 rating from me, I simply couldn't put this novel down and finished it within a few days.

To learn more about Michael Robotham visit his web page here: http://www.michaelrobotham.com/

- See more at: http://publishing-adventures.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/life-or-death-michael-robotham-review.html#sthash.NWzh38em.dpuf
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5.0 out of 5 stars Strong characters and great plot, 2 Jun. 2015
By 
OlgaNM "Olga" (Penistone, South Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Life or Death (Kindle Edition)
Thanks to the publishers for providing me a free copy through Net Galley.
This novel’s tagline is The Shawshank Redemption meets No Country for Old Men and it is fairly accurate.
Audey Palmer escapes prison the day before he was due to be released, and everybody, including the inmates of the prison, wonder, why? This question propels the novel where Robottam makes a skilful use of third person point of view that alternates between a large cast of characters, but they are all so distinct that the reader never loses track.
From Audey, whose memories are slowly uncovered, to a diminutive but feisty FBI female agent, Moss, the prisoner of the next cell and a deeper character than at first appears, a sheriff hell bent on revenge, we get to see things from their perspective, whilst at the same time we’re not shown the whole story until the very end. The pieces fall into place eventually, and although we might have our suspicions, it fits in beautifully. Considering the times and the stories in the news, unfortunately the truth behind the case does not feel like a huge stretch of the imagination.
Audey is a survivor against all odds but at the same time has an uncanny talent for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When asked about it, he comments that he must have broken a mirror and found a horseshoe in the same day. There are many coincidences throughout the plot, but then life is full of them and there is an internal logic to the characters and the story that pulls it all together. Audey has something of the tragic hero as fate seems heavily stacked against him but he never gives up. And those on his side seem to grow in stature by coming in contact with him.
The style of the novel is easy to read, well-paced and at the same time beautifully written, with some gems of insight and style. I also loved the dry sense of humour and the pathos. The plot and the story keeps us engaged, but the level of writing and the skill lift it above the humdrum standard thriller. This novel will work equally for people who enjoy complex characters and those who prefer an action filled adventure. A great book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very superior thriller indeed., 22 May 2015
By 
This review is from: Life or Death (Hardcover)
Michael Robotham's Texan set thriller clearly owes a lot to Stephen King's Shawshank Redemption as a beginning, an idea, and a kind of relationship: Two convicts, ones the reader is absolutely meant to root for, in essence good and noble men, one black, one white. The white man Audie Palmer in theory is obviously in no way hardened, or dangerous, and is likely to get beaten and savaged. But somehow, he survives the ten years of his sentence, despite various inmates making sporadic beelines to try and kill him. He and the black man, Moss Webster, strike up a deep and quiet friendship during Palmer's sentence.

Audie Palmer had confessed to an armed payroll robbery, in the course of which, 4 people died. The 7 million dollars taken in the robbery have never been found, and much of the violence meted out to Palmer in prison was from various inmates and guards and gangs anxious to beat the money's hiding place out of Palmer.

The novel opens the night before the end of Palmer's sentence : he is to be released the next day. Instead of which, he escapes from prison, and goes on the run.

Something, in fact, pretty well everything, is not what it seems.......and the reader very quickly will come to the conclusion that despite confessing to the crime, Palmer is clearly innocent. So that becomes another question. And, whilst rapidly everyone starts frantically searching for Palmer, including not just local law enforcement officers, but the FBI, one of the FBI agents is also battling with a growing feeling that Palmer may indeed be innocent (so, shades of The Fugitive too)

Robotham builds a tightly twisting spider's web of a story, with some useful red herrings thrown into the mix. Central to the plot is that ten year friendship between Moss and Audie, both their back stories, the strong women in their lives, Audie's own background, figures with Mob connections, corrupt politicians and business leaders. And good police and bad police. And much more.

It's a brutal story (if not always completely believable in terms of the amount of beatings, maimings, shootings and the like that the fictional human body survives) but what lifts it above just another thriller is the strong characterisations (although I do have a cavil, here too) and the extremely well drawn relationships. Audie and Moss, and their respective significant others are all extremely attractive characters, whom the reader will care about, and have empathy with, and this is also a big plus for this book. You will be involved, without a doubt.

There are also a lot of very ignoble, unattractive villains, with little redeemable about them, and, because they are out to get the people we care about, it is a classic battle between good and evil and the reader will root for the heroes and want the villains to get their justs, too

And then there is that FBI agent who all the way through smells rats......and rather knows the rat is not at all Palmer. Special Agent Desiree Furness is a brilliant operative. And she is shrimp sized, and despite being as tough, feisty, brave and fit as any ripped muscle hunk in the Feds, is under a huge disadvantage as her size makes everyone think she is a wee teen. And she gets permanently teased and humiliated. However, she is made of very strong stuff indeed, gives as good as she gets, and provides much of the necessary humour in the book, as she can outclass most of those who patronise her in wit, sass and intelligence. Moss too has a nice line in not only repartee, but his own internal thoughts about matters, as related by Robotham (the book is third person narrative):

"Moss is not a lover of the countryside. He's city born and bred, preferring to know the proximity of his nearest takeout than seeing newborn lambs gambolling in a meadow or a field of wheat shivering in the breeze. The countryside has too many things that buzz, bite, slither or growl, and it also happens to be full of murderous hicks who think lynching black men should still be a recognised sport, especially in parts of the South"

If I couldn't quite go 5 star on this it was for two reasons. Firstly, in order to make all those many cliffhanging tension moments that are scattered in the various chases (all very filmic), there were rather too many coincidences for my liking, and in fact I did think, `this is filmic in structure - I could `see' the cutaways, and indeed hear the kind of soundtrack playing in my head - it for sure will get made for the screen. I would lay money on that, even if not quite a missing 7 million dollars!

And the second reason is that though absolutely excellently done our heroes and our villains are on the one hand a little too noble and on the other, a little too unremittingly sulphurous in their villainy. I do prefer the greater discomfort of nuance.

I received this as a review copy from the publisher, Little, Brown Book Group UK
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Thriller, 30 Nov. 2014
By 
atticusfinch1048 - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Life or Death (Hardcover)
Life or Death – Beautiful Thriller

Life or Death that is the question that Michael Robotham poses to the reader throughout this excellent suspense thriller. I would go as far as to say it is a beautiful thriller in that it is an enjoyable read that is so well written the prose is beautiful and engaging the plot outstanding and the imagery as clear as day.

Audie Palmer has spent the last ten years of his life in prison for an armed robbery in which four people were killed and he pleaded guilty to the charges. According to the press and the wider world there is seven million dollars missing from the robbery and Palmer is the one who knows where the money is hidden. Palmer has had to avoid the attention of fellow inmates, criminal gangs and the guards every day who all want the money. He endures everything that they throw at him but somehow he survives. Then the day before his release he escapes from prison and nobody can understand why.

With the FBI, Dreyfus County Sheriff and the US Marshall Service all hunting him he also has a price on his head. We learn through the book that some people have very specific reasons as to why they want Palmer to die and that Palmer has a secret he wishes to deliver before he is killed. He knows he has a target on his back and is running for his life so that he can hide and deliver his secret and at the same time stay alive and away from prison.

Whether Palmer is believed by the person he wants to deliver the secret or the law enforcement officers actually care about what he has to say he knows he has to survive. The people who do not want him to deliver that secret keep increasing the bounty on his head to find and kill him. The question is whether he can and will survive and who can help him. The bodies pile up in the process and it seems like his luck, if he had any, is running out.

Robotham’s voice throughout the thriller is haunting and you identify with at times with Audie Palmer. We see both the good and bad of the human psyche which is one of the major driving forces throughout the book. Life or Death will leave you breathless and exhilarated at the same time and it is a pure pleasure to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More excellent crime fiction, 11 Aug. 2014
By 
Liz Wilkins "Lizzy11268" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Life or Death (Hardcover)
I've long been a fan of Michael Robotham's crime novels, this one is a brilliant and addictive standalone story that had me madly reading in great big chunks as I was absolutely determined to find out what on earth was going on.

One day before he is due to be released, Audie Palmer makes his escape from Jail and appears to go on the run - but why? Another 24 hours would have seen him free. What follows is a heart stopping race against time as Audie attempts to evade his would be captors and right a wrong - there is a lot more going on than meets the eye and it is truly compelling stuff. At turns very emotional and then extremely thrilling, it twists and turns its way to an electrifying finale.

I've always loved the depth that this author brings to his characters - there was a definite touch of the "Shawshank" about this one as we learn about Audie, his time in Jail and eventually what it is that is driving him. Surrounded by a beautifully drawn cast of eclectic characters, the whole thing is ingeniously constructed, completely hooks you in right from the start and has such a wonderful flow to it that you won't want to put it down. Indeed as I headed into the final part of this, I couldnt put it down - I completed it bleary eyed yet satisfied at 3am one morning.

Michael Robotham never fails to deliver on great writing, intelligent plotting and people you will fall for and this was no exception to the rule. I have absolutely no hesitation in giving this, and all the other books from this author, a highly recommended tag.

Happy Reading Folks!

Source: Review copy via Netgalley.
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