Life or death by Michael Robotham

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Sphere, 2015. ISBN 9780751552898
(Age: Upper secondary to adult) Highly recommended. Crime fiction. USA. Capital punishment. Corruption. Robotham will please his wide audience yet again with this tightly plotted, explosively written novel as Audie Palmer, a ten year prisoner in a hell hole in Texas decides to escape the day before his release. His journey drags us through the events of his life bringing us up to the day he escapes and the reasons behind it. Along the way, another prisoner, a lifer who befriended Palmer in jail, is released by a powerful group of men to find Palmer and hand him over. The corruption is palpable, Moss must not only watch his own back and find Palmer, but also work out why Palmer is so necessary to these people's plans and how he can keep them both alive. The botched theft of seven million dollars, eleven years before, left Palmer in a life and death coma, but pulling through he admitted the crime and was sent to jail. But this money was never recovered, so many people are after it. And of course, as with all good crime stories, the hero is a hero, not the villain he is portrayed and we know that he is not what he appears. All is tied up with his family and a stepson he vowed to care for, now adopted by the very sheriff who arrested Palmer in the first place. Layers of coincidence pile on each other as links between powerful law officers and state politicians crowd into the story, making the reader assess, try out then throw aside theory after theory about what is actually happening. It is a rivetting read, one that carried me along its whole length to the nail biting conclusion.
The setting is part of the story with small isolated pockets of civilisation and the sad people he met a necessary part of Palmer's life on the run, while the corruption within the police force and their methods of law enforcement made me shudder. I was involved from page one.
Fran Knight