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6 of 6 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 9 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 5 months ago by Amazon Customer


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6 of 6 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 10 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
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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 21 May 2015
This review is from: Life or Death (Kindle Edition)
This is the first book I have ever read by Michael Robotham and, as I absolutely loved it, it certainly won't be the last! In fact I have now added all his others to my wishlist so I can catch up with an author who seems to have passed me by. Some reviewers are saying that this isn't their favourite or one of the best examples of his work so it looks as though I have plenty of treats in store.
Audie escapes from prison the day before he is due to be released from a sentence for armed robbery. What makes a person do such an unexpected thing? It quickly becomes obvious that there are plenty of people who don't want Audie out of prison or even alive for that matter. The 7 million dollars from the robbery is still missing and attracting a lot of attention. The chase is on to find Audie and hopefully the money too!
This book is an adrenaline filled journey but with an emotional connection not much felt within this type of thriller. As it became clearer why Audie had escaped, I as willing him to "do the right thing". The twists and turns came thick and fast and at one point I nearly through my kindle across the room when an unexpected plot twist came as a bit of a shock!
Highly recommend this book, it's a great page turner you won't be able to put down till you get to the fabulously emotional ending.
Many thanks to the publisher and netgalley for providing me with a copy in return for an unbiased review.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 24 May 2015
This review is from: Life or Death (Kindle Edition)
Wow… what a rollercoaster of a book! This is the first time that I have read a Michael Robotham book and I am now eager to read more by this author.

I never write a synopsis as usually one only repeats what the author has already written in his. Plus I also feel it takes the enjoyment out of a book when one knows too much of what the story is about.

I loved the character of Audie Palmer. Despite spending time in prison, I had the feeling that he was not the type of person that should be in prison. All is revealed as the story progresses. If I were in Audie’s shoes, I would have made my escape much sooner! The ending was quite emotional and did pull a little at my heartstrings. Such a shame when I finished the last page, as I wanted more.

I highly recommend this book, which I received from Netgalley in return for an honest review.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best thrillers from the past ten years, 14 May 2015
By 
Steve White (Maidstone, Kent) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Life or Death (Kindle Edition)
Life or Death is a book that I have been excited to read for a while, particularly as it has been critically acclaimed by numerous top authors, so I jumped at the chance to review the new paperback copy that is released this July. For those that can't wait, the book is available in other formats now. Life or Death is an exciting read from the beginning, and I'd go as far as saying one of the best thrillers from the past ten years. The plot is constructed perfectly, with twists and turns along the way, and this really keeps the reader hooked in and wanting to read more. Mesmerising characters, a shockingly brilliant plot, more originality than anyone could ever ask for in a thriller - worthy of five stars.

View more of my reviews at http://www.literaryweek.com

Note: I received a copy of Life or Death free from it's publisher for review purposes.
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