Life or Death

Why would a man escape from prison the day before he’s due to be released?

Audie Palmer has spent a decade in prison for an armed robbery in which four people died including two of the gang. Seven million dollars has never been recovered and everybody believes that Audie knows where the money is.

For ten years he has been beaten, stabbed, throttled and threatened by prison guards, inmates and criminal gangs, who all want the answer to the same question, but suddenly Audie vanishes the day before he’s due to be released.

Everybody wants to find Audie, but he’s not running. Instead he’s trying to save a life… and not just his own.


A letter from Michael

Dear readers,

It is ten years since my first novel THE SUSPECT was published – a book that changed my life because it allowed me to become a full time writer. Since then I’ve produced a book a year, hoping to make each one better than the last.

Now I’m releasing LIFE OR DEATH, a story that I’ve nurtured and turned over in my mind for more than twenty years – ever since I read a newspaper account of a man who had a served a long prison sentence, but escaped the day before he was due to be released.

Why, I asked myself, what could possibly be the reason?

It took me years to come up with an answer and even longer before I felt I had the skills to tell the story properly. I needed to practice. I needed to learn. I needed to get better.

That’s why I’m so excited about LIFE OR DEATH. It’s a love story and a prison story and a heart-stopping account of one man’s refusal to surrender. More importantly, it’s the book that I was meant to write.

Best wishes
Michael Robotham

“LIFE OR DEATH is a nerve-shredding thriller with the heart and soul so often missing from lesser crime and suspense novels. I couldn’t stop reading, yet I didn’t want Audie’s story to end. Robotham is an absolute master.”

Stephen King

“I love this guy’s books. Try this one and you’ll see why.”

Lee Child

“A pitch-perfect plot with a stunning twist that involves a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Talk about topsy-turvy – but it works – big time.”

Steve Berry

“One of the strongest thrillers in ages…a novel blessed with unforgettable characters, beautiful writing and a plot to keep you up at night.”

Michelle Ross in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

“One of the great plots of the year unfolding as you turn pages, a plot with all of the intensity of a Greek tragedy… if it came from a native Texan we’d believe it. Since it comes from a stranger to Texas with such convincing powers of detail, we should celebrate it.’”

Alan Cheuse in the Dallas Morning News

“Robotham creates fascinating characters and gives them wonderful dialogue. And if his plot sometimes edges toward the thin ice of credibility, readers will keep wading through this well-told tale.”

Harry Levins in St Louis Post-Dispatch

“What sort of idiot escapes the day before his release?” wonders Special Agent Desiree Furness of the F.B.I. who is smarter than most of the characters looking for Audie (Palmer)…a man with hidden depths and horrific secrets. Your real boon companion on this manhunt [is Moss Webster]…a big bruiser… emotionally involved in Audie’s fate and morally conflicted about his own role in determining it. His warm voice, thick with country honey, is the one you want to hear.”

Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times

“Start reading LIFE OR DEATH and you’ll want to stay curled up in an armchair with one of the best thrillers you’ll read this year.”

Financial Times (UK)

“Superbly exciting thriller… Beautifully written and full of poignancy.”

Sunday Mirror (UK)

“Highly original…in a preface Robotham tells us this is ‘the book that I was MEANT to write’. He could be right.”

Literary Review (UK)

“Robotham’s skill as a writer remains undeniable: He offers memorable characters caught up in an irresistible story.”

Kirkus Review (US)

“Damn near perfect.”

Weekend Sport (UK)

“Robotham is a true master, structuring a sublime story with both beloved and credible characters and villains who actually have something to answer for…[a] cinematic thriller with the atmosphere of The Shawshank Redemption.”

VrouwenThrillers (Netherlands)

“A crime writer at the top of his game.”

The Australian

“Robotham hits all the right notes here. Think Michael Connelly crossed with Elmore Leonard: a cracking plot and great dialogue.”

Sun Herald (Australia)

“This is a terrific thriller that showcases Robotham’s ability to challenge the reader’s expectations and to tackle different themes and styles. Highly recommended.”

Sydney Morning Herald

“LIFE OR DEATH is like fine bourbon: smooth, layered, and lingering long after the final sip.”

Crimewatch (New Zealand)

“There is nothing more exciting than an author operating at the peak of their powers.
With LIFE OR DEATH Robotham is doing just that.”

Booktopia (Australia)

“This is far and away the thriller of the year. it will keep you glued to the end of your reading chair,
it will keep you guessing until the very end and, best of all, it will break your heart.”

Bite the Book (Australia)

“The story builds to a heart-stopping climax—Robotham piles on the tension without ever going over
the top—and legions of readers should enjoy this superior example of the crime writer’s art.”

Books & Publishing (Australia)

“A thriller in the true sense of the word – brilliant writing style, strong characters, breathtaking exciting, action-packed, stunning plot twists and a thrilling denouement. LIFE OR DEATH is a jewel in the world of the exciting book.”

Hebban Crimezone (Netherlands)


  • Winner of the CWA Gold Dagger 2015 for crime book of the year
  • Shortlisted for the Mystery Writers’ of America Edgar Award for Best Novel 2016
  • Shortlisted for the 2015 UN Thriller of the Year award in the Netherlands
  • Shortlisted for the Australian Book Industry Association 2015 GENERAL FICTION award
  • Shortlisted for the 2016 Barry Award (Deadly Pleasures Magazine)