Life or Death – Michael Robotham

There seems to be two types of people in this world. Those who love Michael Robotham, and those who haven’t heard of him yet.’ Andrew Cattanach, writing for Booktopia.

I suspect many more will come to know him, at least in his home country, for the tele version of his 2017 novel ‘The Secrets She Keeps’. It commenced on the Ten Network just this past week at time of writing, presumably being available, as well, on 10Play. Star Laura Carmichael was advised not to take on her lead in this by none other than Julian Fellowes. He reckoned it would detract from her image after years of being a vital cog in the ‘Downton Abbey’ wheel, or so I read. We’ve viewed the first episode and so far it’s done justice to Robotham’s fine telling of suburban deceit.

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Life or Death’ predates all this, being published in 2014 and it is a stand alone, taking place in the US, as opposed to his usual UK settings. And it’s a ripper, like all of his later stuff, winning Britain’s Crime Writer’s Association Gold Dagger Award for the Sydney based writer.

He creates a resourceful and intriguing hero in Audie Palmer. His long prison sentence is about to end, but the day before he’s due for release he escapes. Go figure! What could possibly have led to such seeming stupidity? As we discover in his back story, what slowly comes to light, as the saga progresses, is that there are two kinds of luck for Audie – the very best and the very worst. He’s hoping for a bit more of the former as he tries to make his audacious bid for freedom and tie up the loose ends of his life. And he’ll need it. He’s assumed to know the location of millions of dollars stashed away after a bungled robbery. But, of course, not all is as it seems – giving the author plenty of scope to play, throwing in hints along the way that keep the pages turning. As it ploughs towards its breathtaking, frenetic conclusion, we have a game of good cop (the diminutive Desiree) and bad cop (no spoilers here). There’s also reference to the felon’s brief marriage, his dodgy brother and even dodgier former boss, both of whom caused him to be on the radar in the first place. They are the ones who’ve progressively led an intelligent kid to darker waters.

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In the world of coronavirus we need all the escapism we can muster and with this title and the tele-series, Robotham is delivering and delivering.

Michael Robotham, international crime writer
visiting London

26.07.2010

picture: Stefan Erhard

The author’s website = http://www.michaelrobotham.com/

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