Life or Death // by Michael Robotham

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//published 2014//

This book has been on my TBR since FictionFan read it a couple of years ago.  At the time, she said that it was one of her thrillers of the year, so don’t let my 3/5 rating deter you from reading it!  :-D

Audie is the hero of our tale, and when the story opens it is the day before the last day of his ten-year prison sentence.  He was convicted in a robbery in which seven million dollars were stolen and four people were killed, including two of accomplices to the crime.  The seven million dollars has never been recovered, and Audie has never talked, despite years of abuse as people try to force the secret from him.

But the night before Audie is set to be released, he escapes from jail.  The story follows Audie’s escape, tells us snippets of Audie’s past life (which begin to explain the present), and also gives us insight into the actions of a few other characters, including FBI agent Desiree and fellow-inmate Moss.  (“What sort of name is Moss?”  “Well, suh, my momma couldn’t spell Moses on my birth certificate.”)

There were a lot of things about this book that I really liked.  It was an engaging story, well-plotted, and twisty without being ridiculous.  Audie is quite likable (almost too likable), Desiree is intelligent and logical, and Moss – well, he was my favorite – just a really solid, believable character.

So why did this book not rank higher for me?  The biggest reason is that Audie felt just too passive to me.  Virtually all the back story that we learn about him is based on coincidences and luck – and all of them bad.  Audie’s entire life to date basically reads like the diary of someone who regularly breaks mirrors and walks under ladders.  I started to feel a little frustrated because it seemed like so much of the story was happening to Audie instead of Audie making it happen.  Yes, he breaks out of jail – but even as he works towards his goal, those same bad luck coincidences seem to haunt his steps.  And I think I might have been okay with all of that except legit the biggest plot twist in the entire book – just plain old bad luck (again).

The other hiccup for me was that both Desiree and Moss are looking for Audie, but they are on completely separate tracks.  So there were times that I found myself feeling a little confused about which person knew which facts.  Although, in fairness, this could be because it took me a few days to read this one.  I just can’t explain why it didn’t grab me!

Overall, a solid read, and with close to a four-star average on Goodreads, this book obviously has a lot of fans.  While I only give it a 3/5 for me personally, it did make me want to look for more of Robotham’s work – any suggestions?

Also – Book #5 for the 20 Books of Summer!

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