Life or Death by Michael Robotham

Keeping a promise…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

life or deathAudie 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…

Michael Robotham
Michael Robotham

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.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

20 thoughts on “Life or Death by Michael Robotham

  1. It has been optioned for a film, FF. when I shared a panel with him earlier this month, Michael wouldn’t say who was in line to play Audie, though sadly it wasn’t my first choice of Ryan Gosling 😉 Can’t you just imagine Clint Eastwood directing this story?

    Like you, I loved this novel and the ending actually made me cry. In public. A winner!


    • Yay! I could see it as a film while I was reading. I’m so out of touch with movie stars these days – I’ll have to give it some thought as to who should star. Pity Mr Clooney is too old… 😉


  2. FictionFan – Oh, so nice that you’re becoming a Robotham fan, too. I think he does really fine thrillers, and it’s good to know that you enjoyed this standalone as well.


  3. Sounds good – quite a relief to get a stand-alone recommendation. I have so many series on the go that I feel like one of those jugglers who spins plates on sticks!


  4. Stellar Review, FEF! I must say, it does seem like a big interest. Audie sounds like me! I think I’d want to escape one day before too, just to have everyone wondering why I did. (He had a better reason, though, I know.)

    I think I’d like Desiree too. Her name is an interest, and then I like that she won’t be pushed out! Would you say the end is shocking?

    (You should be hired to write query letters!!!)


    • Thanks, C-W-W! I’ve already added this one to your list to save you the bother of having to decide… *chuckles wickedly*

      Audie is a bit Professorish, but not wicked enough really. Moss is more like the Professor, but maybe a bit too wicked! Desiree, you’ll be glad to know, is nothing like the Professor…

      The ending is as good as the rest of the book – I’m saying no more! Don’t need to, since you’ll be reading it soon…


      • Oh! That’s just not fair. Don’t you think I should have a say? *laughing*

        I am glad to know that! Don’t see how she could be. The little beast! There. Now I feel mean.

        You could tell me the story, then I wouldn’t have to read it. That’d be the gentlemanly thing to do.


  5. I’ve been waiting for you to review this one. I’m glad it’s a 5-star, I’ll get on to it right away (but only after few others!)
    I’m really excited to this one as the blurb itself it very impressive!


    • It’s great, Heena! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when you get to it (haha! I know what you mean about having a pile of books waiting) – it really lives up to the blurb… 🙂


  6. What an absolutely BRILLIANT thriller by Aussie author Michael Robotham! This would have to be one of the best books I have read in a long while. The incredible twists and turns were breathtaking – at one stage I gasped and said “Oh no, no!” out aloud! As I neared the finish I had to stop reading as I didn’t want to know what happened, then I had to start again immediately as I DID want to know! Life or Death is an astounding, past paced and gritty psychological thriller that I have no hesitation in recommending extremely highly.


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