Review – Life Or Death by Michael Robotham

9780751552898The advanced reading copy bills this as “the best novel yet from Michael Robotham” which is a big call considering his previous nine novels. While I’m not a fan of the Joe O’Loughlin novels that has nothing to do with Robotham’s writing just the fact I don’t like psychological thrillers. But what all Robotham’s books have in common is precision plotting. Robotham knows exactly how to unfurl a story, keeping you interested and guessing in equal measure. My favourite Robothom was Lost (aka The Drowning Man) which demonstrates this perfectly. But I have a new favourite Robotham now because this is beyond doubt the best novel yet from Michael Robotham.

The idea for this novel came to Robotham over twenty years ago, well before he’d written his first book. But Robotham didn’t know if or how he could pull the story off. Nine best-selling novels later he knew how he was going to do it and it was worth the wait.

Audie Palmer has spent the last ten years in prison for an armed robbery that netted 7 million dollars. Money that has never been recovered. Everybody wants to know where the money is; other prisoners, guards and various law enforcement. Audie has survived beatings, stabbings and other assaults and is finally due to be released from prison tomorrow. Except he has just escaped. And so begins an epic thriller. Nobody knows why Audie has escaped but they think it has to do with the money. As Audie’s plan unfolds we learn that there are stronger motivations than money. Motivations that people will kill for, motivations people will live for.

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

Buy the book here…

Player Profile: Michael Robotham, author of Life Or Death

bytonymott_545Michael Robotham, author of Life Or Death

Tell us about your latest creation:

 LIFE OR DEATH is a love story and a thriller and a story of redemption. It’s a standalone novel that introduces Audie Palmer, a man who has spent a decade in prison for armed robbery, but escapes the day before he’s due to be released. For ten years Audie  has been beaten, stabbed, throttled and threatened by prison guards, inmates and criminal gangs, who all want the answer to the same question – what happened to the money? But Audie isn’t running from trouble. Instead he’s trying to save a life more important than his own.

9780751552898Where are you from / where do you call home?:

My books might not be set in Australia, but I’m a home-grown boy. I was born in Casino, on northern NSW and grew up in Gundagai, where the dog sits on the tuckerbox. After living overseas for many years, home is now on Sydney’s northern beaches, where I write in what my daughter’s call, ‘Dad’s Cabana of Cruelty’.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

 I wanted to be an author from the age of 12, when I discovered Ray Bradbury and wrote him a letter via his New York publishers. Three months later, I came home from school and found a package on the kitchen table. It contained the four or five Bradbury titles that weren’t available in Australia, along with a letter from the great man
himself, saying how pleased he was to have a young reader on the far side of the world.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

That’s like asking me which is my favourite daughter! All my books are special to me, but the one that changed my life was the first one: THE SUSPECT, which caused a bidding war at the London Book Fair and allowed me to fulfil my dreams. The latest book LIFE OR DEATH is a story I’ve wanted to tell for twenty years, but didn’t think I had the skills until now.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

 As mentioned earlier – I write in the Cabana of Cruelty, a lovely outside space with wrap-around windows and a shingle roof, overlooking tropical gardens and a swimming pool. It is sometimes hard to conjure up the means streets when I’m looking at paradise.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

 I read very widely. Mainly fiction. Although I have my favourites like James Lee Burke, Daniel Woodrell and Dennis Lehane, I tend not to read much crime fiction, but I do have about a four books on the go at the one time, in different rooms of the house, as well as an audio book on my iPod.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

 The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury opened my imagination and transported me and frightened my pants off. Lord of the Rings was also special. I borrowed it so often from my school library the librarian banned me from taking it out again. So I took to hiding it in the library. She found out, but instead of punishing me, she gave me the book. It is battered, broken and taped together, but still has pride of place on my shelves because it is the first book that I ever truly ‘earned’.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. Nick calls himself ‘one of the few honest people that I have ever known’ and he prides himself on maintaining his standards in a corrupt, fast-moving world. He is a wonderful observer of people and events. He can see their flaws and foibles, but refuses to be overly critical. If I were Nick, maybe I could save Jay Gatsby from himself.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I’m so boring. When I’m not writing I’m reading. When I’m not reading I’m walking. And even when I’m walking I’m listening to a book. Peter Corris tells the story of bumping into David Malouf at a function and asking if he was writing just then,        ‘What else is there to do?’ he answered. That’s what it’s like for me…breathing.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

 I love a gin & tonic at the end of the writing day and a glass of wine with dinner. As for food, it has to be spicy whether it’s a curry, stir fry and homemade pizza.

Who is your hero? Why?:

 My heroes are those people who we never hear about. The parents who look after disabled children and the wives who escape from violent husbands and the teachers, nurses and volunteers who give back more to their communities than they ever receive

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

 I think the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading is for publishers, authors and booksellers to find a business model that works for everyone.  Heavy discounting by online sellers and self-published authors, is  suffocating bricks and mortar stores and prompting more and more readers who think a book should only
cost 99c or $2.99. On top of this we have the spectre of piracy and illegal file sharing that is becoming more widespread with digitalisation.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelRobothamAU

Twitter: https://twitter.com/michaelrobotham

Website: www.michaelrobotham.com

Player Profile – Michael Robotham, author of Watching You

mr-press2-lgeMichael Robotham, author of Watching You

Tell us about your latest creation:

WATCHING YOU is a psychological thriller featuring some family characters – psychologist Joe O’Loughlin and former detective Vincent Ruiz. It also introduces someone new – Marnie Logan, a mother of two, whose husband has been missing for more than a year. Suffering from blackouts and increasingly desperate, Marnie has always had a sense that she’s being watched – ever since she was a young girl – but now she’s suffering from blackouts and gaps in her memory. Enter psychologist Joe O’Loughlin who offers to help, but the closer he looks at Marnie, the more he begins to doubt her story. Is she being haunted by some past tragedy – or is there someone very real and dangerous watching her?

9781847445278Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Casino in northern NSW and grew up in country towns like Gundagai and Coffs Harbour. Now I live on Sydney’s northern beaches.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be a writer from the age of about 12 when I discovered the writings of Ray Bradbury, who is best known for Fahrenheit 451. I wrote a letter to Bradbury and he wrote back, sending me several books that weren’t available in Australia. It was that generosity that made me want to become a writer. What do you consider to be your best work? Why?: Asking a writer to nominate his or her best work is like asking a parent, ‘Which is your favourite child?’

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My children call my office ‘Dad’s Cabana of Cruelty’. It’s a lovely place for writing such dark stories.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read very widely – not just crime writers, although I have my favourites. I’m a big fan of James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, Gillian Flynn, Peter Temple and Laura Lippman.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Lord of the Rings was a defining book for me. It was the first book I ever felt I ‘earned’. I re-read it so often that Mrs Fitzpatrick, my school librarian, forbade me taking it out again. I took to hiding it in the library. She caught me one recess and instead of punishing me, she gifted me the book. I still have it today.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Homer Wells – the orphan that nobody wanted in John Irving’s Cider House Rules. His was a life  full of tragedy, but he also great love. He is a true prince of Maine and King of New England.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

This is really boring. I have no hobbies. Writing is my passion, my hobby, my career. It’s what I do. And when I’m not writing, I’m reading.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Writers and alcohol have always had a close relationship. For me it’s a reward for a day at my desk. A glass of white wine. A gin & tonic. A Bloody Mary….don’t get me started.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I admire the unsung heroes, those people who care for our sick, elderly and disabled, who earn low pay and are constantly told the coffers are empty whenever they ask for more. Why is that  CEOs never make the same sacrifices?

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The biggest challenge facing books will partly come from the technology but also from changing public perceptions. Piracy looms, but perhaps a greater threat is the tsunami of cheap self-published titles flooding the marketplace – creating a new generation of readers who think a book is only worth 99c.

Website URL: www.michaelrobotham.com
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelRobothamAU
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/michaelrobotham

BOOKS ALIVE

Books Alive, an Australian Government initiative, aims to encourage all Australians to turn off their screens and get reading.

In choosing to purchase one of its “50 Books You Can’t Put Down”, you are eligible to receive a FREE book – either a dazzling collection of brand-new short stories by ten of Australia’s best writers, or Grug Learns to Read, a new title in the classic Australian series.

50 Books You Can’t Put Down

The Book of Rapture by Nikki Gemmell
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville
The Rip by Robert Drewe
Dead Man Running by Ross Coulthart & Duncan McNab
The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay
206 Bones by Kathy Reichs
Shatter by Michael Robotham
How to Break Your Own Heart by Maggie Alderson
Dear Fatty by Dawn French
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
Parky: My Autobiography by Michael Parkinson
The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Through a Glass Darkly by Caroline Jones
Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy
The Young Widow’s Book of Home Improvement by Virginia Lloyd
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell
The Night My Bum Dropped by Gretel Killeen
To Love, Honour and Betray by Kathy Lette
The True Story of Butterfish by Nick Earls
Occy by Mark Occhilupo & Tim Baker
True Colours by Adam Gilchrist
A Most Wanted Man by John le Carré
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
Australian Tragic by Jack Marx
Pacific Fury by Peter Thompson
1788 by David Hill
My God! It’s a Woman by Nancy Bird
The People’s Train by Tom Keneally
The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
Dog Boy by Eva Hornung
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Wanting by Richard Flanagan
Dark Country by Bronwyn Parry
A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn
It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Eagle Day by Robert Muchamore
Robot Riot! by Andy Griffiths
Somebody’s Crying by Maureen McCarthy
Pearlie in the Park by Wendy Harmer
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Nixie’s Song by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
From Little Things Big Things Grow by Paul Kelly & Kev Carmody
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury