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Life or Death    by Michael Robotham order for
Life or Death
by Michael Robotham
Order:  USA  Can
Mulholland, 2016 (2015)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I'm a long-time fan of Michael Robotham's mysteries, starring several leads who appear in each other's stories (my favorite being Professor Joe O'Loughlin who appeared in Bleed For Me). Now he brings us something rather different, but just as engrossing. Life or Death is a thriller with resonances of The Shawshank Redemption.

The main character, Audie Palmer, has just spent ten years in a Texas prison. We learn that he pled guilty to an armed robbery in which four people died. Seven million dollars were not recovered and, during his time in jail, Audie has been repeatedly attacked and badly beaten by fellow prisoners and guards, all of whom wanted to find out what happened to the money. Audie only survived with the help of a fellow inmate, Moss Webster, who dreams of his wife Crystal.

Inexplicably, one day before his release, Audie breaks out of prison - when he's recaptured he might face another twenty-five years! And everyone is looking for him, with varying reasons. The one we root for is FBI Special Agent Desiree Furness. Sheriff Ryan Valdez, who originally arrested Audie, has darker motivations. As he travels (where and why, we wonder) Audie helps a destitute young woman, Cassie, and her daughter Scarlett. They journey on together.

Meanwhile, the plot thickens. Moss is released, under orders to find and kill Audie - his wife is threatened. What will he do? As these characters all circle around each other, the heartrending puzzle at the center of the novel is slowly unraveled. Highly recommended!

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