More like life, then dull….. ***
Having read all of Robotham’s Joe O’Loughlin series, I was curious to read one of his stand alone novels.
Life or Death is a unique story that grips you from the beginning. Just the premise of a character breaking out of prison one day before his release is enough to make you want to read the book. Weaving the present with the past, Robotham reveals the motivation behind the escape, saving the twist to near the end. I do have to admit I had not figured things out until the author revealed the full story. Up to that point the novel is well written.
Robotham even manages to take what could have been a cliche – prisoner on the run connects with down and out mother and child – and gives it a twist that was surprising.
It is not until the climax that this novel falls apart. The confrontation between the good guys and bad guys is so full of holes, I was expecting the pages to fall apart. The rest is tied into a neat little package and left me with a feeling of being let down.
This one gets three stars. Actually it is a four star read up to chapter 64, then it becomes a three star read.
Hold on, and don’t close your eyes….. *****
Some writers who write a series get lazy after a few novels and rely on formula to put out the rest of the series. Lee Child is a good example of this. Michael Robotham is one of the exceptions. His novels have only gotten better as the series featuring Joe O’Loughlin has progressed. His latest, Close Your Eyes, is one of his best.
Once again, using first person for the viewpoint of both the antagonist and the protagonist, Robotham creates a page turner that not only doesn’t let you go, but in the last few chapters had me breathing fast and on the edge of my seat.
The story revolves around two people who were murdered at a farm house and a seemingly unconnected group of women, and men, who have been attacked throughout the city, left alive, with a letter “A” carved in their foreheads. (Yes, Robotham pays homage to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.) Finding the connection between the victims becomes O’Loughlin’s task and he recruits Vincent Ruiz, as usual, to help.
While the story of solving the crimes is enough to make this a good read, it is the side story of Joe’s family that cements this as a must read. It has been a while since a book actually made my heart pound and had me completely engrossed in the fate of the characters.
This one gets a full five stars!
Another good one from Robotham…. ****
Once again Michael Robotham proves he is at his best when at least one of his characters is written in first person. This time we are in the head of the protagonist, who Robotham uses to take the reader down a path that has twists, turns, and finally a slight head scratcher. I can’t say who the protagonist is without this being a spoiler.
Marnie Logan’s husband has disappeared and she goes to see Joe O’Loughlin for therapy. This puts Joe and his retired detective sidekick, Vincent Ruiz, in the middle of the story. Someone is eliminating or harassing people in Marnie’s life that have wronged her, and the question of who is doing this drives the plot.
In the middle of the book, a secret about Marnie is revealed and Robotham wants the reader to think this will be the answer to the mystery, but then the twists and turns begin.
In the end, I was left thinking, “Okay, this was possible, but it does stretch believability.” This is a good read and one of Robotham’s better novels.
This one gets four stars.
Stephen King was right….. ****
On the cover of this novel Stephen King is quoted as saying, “The most suspenseful book I read all year.” My first reaction to this was, really? After Robotham’s last book, The Night Ferry, I was skeptical. Now, having read Shatter, I agree with Stephen King.
Robotham mixes first person viewpoints between psychologist Joe O’Laughlin and the antagonist. This works well and keeps the plot moving at a fast pace. The mind of the villain is unnerving to say the least. This is not a book for the squeamish or faint-hearted.
While the twists and turns are fairly predictable, the ride to the end is worth the read. Robotham is able to build tension that keeps you turning the page even though you are sure of were he is heading. It has been a while since a book evoked emotion in this reader.
The basic idea of the story revolves around what you would do if you thought someone had your child. Robotham takes the idea of the phone call where someone says your child needs money to get bailed out of a situation, and pushes it over the top, the situation now life threatening and the request is for more than cash.
This is the most suspenseful book I have read all year, but then it is only February, so hopefully not the last.
This one gets four stars. Four, not five, for being predictable.