Life or death by Michael Robotham

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Hachette, 2014. ISBN 9780751552898
(Age: 16+) Recommended. Mystery and suspense. Crime. Why did Audie Palmer escape from prison a day before he was due to be released? In prison for an armed robbery where four people died and $7 million disappeared, Audie is a man hunted for his knowledge of the whereabouts of the money and for the murders of the people at the robbery. His prison inmate friend, Moss doesn't know why he left after serving all but one day of his 10 year sentence and FBI Special Agent Desiree Furness, as well as the local sheriff are hot on his trail. But Audie is not after the money, he is trying to save a life.
Robotham has come up with an intriguing premise that impels the reader into the life and motives of Audie, an intelligent, seemingly non-violent man who has survived the horror of prison, attacks from other prisoners and numerous visits from men on the outside, who want to know what has happened to the money. Audie is also seen through the eyes of his friend, Moss, another prisoner, and Moss too, cannot fathom out why Audie has decided to leave a day early. On the run, Audie relives some of his past, and the reader finds out about the effect that the actions of his brother Carl have had on his life and begins to empathise with him. Other characters too, are well fleshed out: Moss who is on his trail under the orders of unknown men, and the diminutive FBI agent, Desiree Furness, who struggles to overcome bias because of her size and gender, bur who is determined to find out the truth.
Robotham is a master at writing a thrilling plot that keeps the reader wondering what will come next and why the action is occurring. The suspense is constant, there are plenty of red herrings to confuse, and enough clues to tantalise, all making Life or death a really good psychological thriller.
Pat Pledger