Title: Life or Death
Author: Michael Robotham
Published: July 2014
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
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, everything 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 into 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 keep 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.
Here I leave you the description and some editorial reviews:
Why would a man serving a long prison sentence escape the day before he’s due to be released?
Audie Palmer has spent ten years in a Texas prison after pleading guilty to a robbery in which four people died and seven million dollars went missing. During that time he has suffered repeated beatings, stabbings and threats by inmates and guards, all desperate to answer the same question: where’s the money?
On the day before Audie is due to be released, he suddenly vanishes. Now everybody is searching for him – the police, FBI, gangsters and other powerful figures – but Audie isn’t running to save his own life. Instead, he’s trying to save someone else’s.
Michael Robotham has created the ultimate underdog hero, an honorable criminal shrouded in mystery and ready to lead readers on a remarkable chase.
“Life or Death is a nerve-shredding thriller with the heart and soul so often missing from lesser crime and suspense novels. I couldn’t stop reading, yet I didn’t want Audie’s story to end. Robotham is an absolute master.”―Stephen King
“A pitch perfect plot with a stunning twist that involves a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Talk about topsy turvy — but it works — big time.”―Steve Berry, author of The Lincoln Myth and The Jefferson Key
“Robotham has a talent for creating fascinating and complex characters, and Audie Palmer may be his best yet.”―Booklist (starred review)
[A] prison-break tale with a twist . . . The writing is top-notch . . . Plenty of edge-of-the-seat excitement, forcing readers to frantically turn the pages to find out how all these different strands intersect. Robotham’s skill as a writer remains undeniable: He offers memorable characters caught up in an irresistible story.”―Kirkus Reviews
“Michael Robotham is the real deal.”―David Baldacci
“Robotham is a first-class storyteller.”―Associated Press
About the Author
Michael Robotham is author of Watching You, Say You’re Sorry, Bleed for Me, Shatter, and other novels of suspense. A former investigative journalist who has worked in Britain, Australia and the US, Robotham is one of the world’s most acclaimed authors of thriller fiction. He lives in Sydney with his wife and three daughters.
Realistic Characterization: 4.5/5
Made Me Think: 5/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
Buy it at:
Format & Pricing:
Paperback: $15.99 (http://www.amazon.com/Life-Death-Novel-Michael-Robotham/dp/0316252034/)
Kindle: $17.15 (http://www.amazon.com/Life-Death-Michael-Robotham-ebook/dp/B00HP4HABG/)
Audiobook: $22.08 (http://www.amazon.com/Life-or-Death/dp/B00LU0RCVO/)
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Olga Núñez Miret