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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars powerful crime thriller
She is a practicing psychologist well known for her lectures, seminars and "how to" books but she wants to reconnect with her teen-age son Scott. Her ex-husband has custody of their son but Sherry Carrigan O'Toole thinks that a trip at the luxurious ski resort Sky Top Village will give them a chance to bond. One night when they were supposed to have dinner together, he...
Published on February 15, 2003 by Harriet Klausner

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average read for thriller fans.
John Gilstrap knows to write, I know that and I liked most of all his books "Nathan's Run". This book was brilliant. But Mr. Gilstrap has never since found a similar voice and well arranged story. "Scott Free" is not much more than what you expect of, for example, the usual Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie. The characters are not much more developed,...
Published on March 15, 2003 by Bernd Brienen


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars powerful crime thriller, February 15, 2003
This review is from: Scott Free (Hardcover)
She is a practicing psychologist well known for her lectures, seminars and "how to" books but she wants to reconnect with her teen-age son Scott. Her ex-husband has custody of their son but Sherry Carrigan O'Toole thinks that a trip at the luxurious ski resort Sky Top Village will give them a chance to bond. One night when they were supposed to have dinner together, he skips out without telling her.
He and a friend who owns a plane fly to Salt Lake City to see a rock concert but the plane crashes in bad weather and Scott is the only survivor. He's able to last in the wilderness for a few days thanks to survival skills he was taught and when he comes to a cottage inhabited by a middle aged man, he thinks his problems are over. He realizes they are just beginning when he realizes his roommate is a hitman who has a tendency to leave no witnesses to identify him.
John Gilstrap has written another crime thriller starring a protagonist who is truly a hero. Even though he is a teenager, he has more daring and courage than most adults and he proves it many times over though a bit irresponsible. Scott's disappearance diffuses the war between his parents who finally reach a cease-fire after almost losing their son. SCOTT FREE is one action scene after another, as the pace never slows down for an instant.
Harriet Klausner
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average read for thriller fans., March 15, 2003
This review is from: Scott Free (Hardcover)
John Gilstrap knows to write, I know that and I liked most of all his books "Nathan's Run". This book was brilliant. But Mr. Gilstrap has never since found a similar voice and well arranged story. "Scott Free" is not much more than what you expect of, for example, the usual Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie. The characters are not much more developed, you read what you would see on the big screen if this book is ever made to a major motion picture. This book should have been a hundered pages longer. The characters are not as well developed as you possibly could in a book. Mr. Gilstrap's style of writing is absorbing, but he lacks the wit he put into the pages of "Nathan's Run" and the well thought ideas he came up with in his first novel. Now he is more mainstream. In this story would have been so much more to explore about any character in this book. Scott's mother would have been a great character if explored more in depth. The attemps are there. But as I said, he would have needed about a hundred pages more to do so. Now it is just a nice summer read for the beach, not much more. The story is so foreseeable, that some twists aren't that surprising at all. The story of the sniper is not too well explored either. You can't really connect to Scott either, he seems too much like a superhero and has knowlege of any surviving skills. Some ideas in this book are too hard to believe. Its a nice read though. But it doesn't touch the reader as "Nathan's Run" did.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A double black diamond thriller, April 29, 2003
This review is from: Scott Free (Hardcover)
As his canon develops, Mr. Gilstrap's fiction seems to be edging away from the imperiled-family-on-the-run suspense thrillers for which he was becoming typecast and this is an evolution that Atria Books, Gilstrap's imprint within Simon & Schuster, thankfully encourages.

Scott O'Toole is not Nathan Bailey redux. Nathan, the title character in Gilstrap's incredible debut NATHAN'S RUN, is eluding capture by both the police and some bad men who want him dead. Sixteen-year-old Scott O'Toole is running toward something, namely a cabin in the middle of the Utah wilderness after his plane crashes that is his only shot at survival.

In that cabin is a mysterious man who claims to be in the witness protection program. But as Scott waits out a terrific blizzard, less and less adds up and his savior doesn't appear to be what he claims. The president of the United States is in town and when the bodies start piling up around the cabin like cordwood, Scott puts two and two together and begins a Nathanesque run back to civilization.

Gilstrap is obviously enamored of the movies, and he's tried and failed to make a career as a produced screenwriter. Still, his love of movies prevails and SCOTT FREE would've benefited from less allusions to specific movies, genres and cinema in general that Gilstrap obviously threw in to make producers realize, Look, see how cinematic my book is!

Gilstrap's saving grace is that SCOTT FREE, despite its shameless attempts to cozy up next to and identify with action/adventure films, remains one of the freshest and most captivating concepts since Jan Burke's BONES and Michael Prescott's NEXT VICTIM. Scott O'Toole does nothing that a gutsy, level-headed sixteen-year-old boy couldn't do with the proper training and a few aids. The conflict between his estranged parents is not a mass-produced he said-she said one and once again Gilstrap draws the reader into not only the violence of the story but the human conflicts that help illustrate and even bring about the more sensationalistic aspects. Scott's father is a devoted dad who'd be lost without the younger half of "Team Bachelor" while his mother, a self-help pop psychology icon and a bestselling author, is more concerned with ensuring that local bookstores stock her titles in abundance than with being a mother.

The writing of SCOTT FREE isn't quite as snappy as usual and very little of the humor that characterized Gilstrap's first three efforts are in evidence. The characterization, as stated before, is very good, a cut above what Gilstrap had offered in his next-to-last book, EVEN STEVEN. The mysterious man in the cabin is a creepy guy painted with light brush strokes of pathos, someone on a more human scale than the vicious Lyle Pointer of NATHAN'S RUN.

The thrilling, penultimate chapter that takes place on the ski slopes of Utah fades to black and fast-fowarding months later just before the reader actually sees what happened is a trick that directors have been doing since time immemorial and only reinforces the belief that Gilstrap is once again soliciting Hollywood's attention. His republican bias makes a rare, ugly appearance in the acknowledgements page in which he wishes that he could've researched classical music instead of the Metallica beloved of his title character (obviously Gilstrap hasn't heard of that heavy metal group's incredible work with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra).

Overall, I have to give SCOTT FREE four stars based on the vivid characterization, the ending that's almost as exciting as skiing a black diamond trail and the last-minute twist. Gilstrap still hasn't produced anything nearly as thrilling or heart-wrenching as his debut effort and it doesn't look as if he will. But his subsequent novels have a proven entertainment factor that's all too uncommon in the dull sea of generic books that come out every year.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast Moving, March 19, 2003
This review is from: Scott Free (Hardcover)
This fast-moving thriller kept me up late at night as I read the story of a young boy, lost in the freezing wilderness, pursued by the bad guy(s). As I read along, I was forced, however, to suspend belief because the action in this book just did not compute with my sense of reality and there were so many things that just did not make sense to me.
For one thing, Scott has just too many super-powers for a boy of his age and background. This was detrimental to the story because I found myself saying "yeah, right, sure" so many times.
I also found several major errors of fact and this was most distracting. I would have expected better research. Like another reader, I think Gilstrap's best book was "Nathan's Run"...it was so well-done.
I gave this book a "4" because it kept me involved and the story moved quickly. I would give it a "3" for content, however.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Preposterous !!!, June 2, 2003
By 
nobizinfla "nobizinfla" (Windermere, Florida USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Scott Free (Hardcover)
I found "no there, there" in John Gilstrap's "Scott Free."
Had I desired a soap opera I would choose Howard Fast or Harold Robbins and enjoy the ride with guilty pleasure.
All I wanted to do was slap the mother, send the son to military school and have the father see a shrink.
As if the central characters were not unsympathetic enough, the exploits of the son were beyond absurd.
I can suspend disbelief with the best of them, but this was ridiculous.
On the plus side it is a fast read. Many of the secondary characters are worthy, especially the cops...and the villain is colorful, interesting and entertaining.
Mr. Gilstrap's "Nathan's Run" remain a favorite---I expected much more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good!, April 7, 2003
This review is from: Scott Free (Hardcover)
Considering the lame title, SCOTT FREE is surprisingly good.
The hook for me was the set-up. Sixteen-year-old Scott O'Toole's plane crashes in the Utah mountains in the middle of a snow storm. The pilot is dead and the plane has no radio or transponder. He must decide whether to stay put or try to walk to what looks like a cabin on a map he finds in the cabin of the plane.
For a thriller, the book manages to maintain believability for the most part; but I was bothered by the scene where Scott was confronted by wolves. Wolves DO NOT attack human beings unless you invade their space.
Also unusual for a thriller is Gilstrap's facility with character development. Scott O'Toole starts out as a Heavy Metal-loving teenager with little else on his mind than skiing and rock concerts; by the end of the book he has become a man.
Scott's mother Sherry Carrigan O'Toole is a self-absorbed Dr. Laura Schlesinger-type, divorced from Scott's father. She has been trying to win Scott's affection by treating him to a ski trip at SkyTop resort. Scott and his father, Brandon, a rocket scientist, are referred to as Team Bachelor throughout the book, and she's jealous. When he learns his son is missing, Brandon flies to SkyTop to monitor the search.
Gilstrap uses multiple perspectives: Scott; Sherry; Brandon; Barry Whitestone, the police chief in charge of the search; and Isaac DeHaven, the villain of the piece whom Scott mistakenly embraces as his salvation. I kept reading ahead to see where Scott came back into the story. Despite his blue hair, Scott is a great character. Gilstrap puts you there with him in the freezing cold with no food as he tramps through the snow toward a tiny speck on a map.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gilstrap/SCOTT FREE are superb., March 3, 2003
By 
Stephen Besecker (East Aurora, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Scott Free (Hardcover)
When I read something special--a novel that keeps me awake and has me guessing on one page, openly encouraging the protagonist on the next, cursing the bad guys (including one self-centered mom)--I need to share that book with others. From my point of view, John Gilstrap, author of NATHAN'S RUN, EVEN STEVEN and AT ALL COSTS, pitched a perfect game with his latest thriller, SCOTT FREE. Characters we can actually embrace because they're believable, a unique story that literally grabs you by the throat and slowly squeezes the life out of you, and a writer who appears to really care about his craft. I encourage other readers to pick up Mr. Gilstrap's suspense thriller and kick the tires. YOU WON'T BE DISAPPOINTED. A fast-paced story with political intrigue, divorce at it's ugliness, the Western wilderness and a young teenager (Scott O'Toole) who has a few neat tricks up his sleeve. What more could you or I (the reader) possible ask for? Read SCOTT FREE and you'll certainly find out.
Steve Besecker
East Aurora, NY
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Excellent, ARE CELL PHONES ON SMALL PLANES..., November 11, 2005
By 
S. Henkels (Devon, Pa United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Scott Free (Hardcover)
..in case of an emergency crash!? Cell phones are used throughout this contemporary book, but if one was on the plane, a lot of problems might have never started! Outside of this situation, and the obligatory arguments between our 16 year old hero's divorced parents, this is a really fine thriller, especially once you've gotten to about page 40, when the other characters, especially the the hidden away hit man show up. In fact, as a snowy survival tale it is top notch, and the psychology between the 16 year old Scott and his new found acquaintance is really well done. Would a 16 year old (or really anyone for that matter, except a hardened ex-SEAL or criminal) be so cool, calm, and collected towards the end of the book? Maybe not, but still done extremely well. And would there really be such emnity between a Secret Service man and the local police? Who knows, but this book is close to 5-stars, but just shy for the few semi-cartoon situations and people noted here!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Escape, April 21, 2003
By 
Roe P. Wiles (Raleigh, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Scott Free (Hardcover)
I loved this thriller by John Gilstrap. Not since The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by King have I been on such an intense merry-go-round with a young protagonist. Nathan's Run sealed my implicitly silent contract of approval for Gilstrap, and this time around, the protagonist is a blue haired teenager, full of bravado, with incredible learned skills, resolve, and vulnerability, as well as adolescent 'attitude'. The descriptions of the hardships are vivid, visual reality-charged moments of reader recognition.
The novel speaks for itself. A teenager visiting with his detached but famous mother, who is taken on an exorbitant ski vacation to woo him away from "team bachelor", decides on the spur of the moment to fly with a new found skiing buddy to a rock concert. A storm ensues. From that point on, weather, survival, horror, and where-with-all co conspire to build great tension and a very satisfying book. Scott is compelled to call on inner resources, those he was trained for, and those which he is unaware that he possesses. I bought it all. The villain is great, wearing more guises than an entire halloween party. Dad is a devoted supporter who never gives up, knowing in his gut that his son is still alive. Even egocentric mom changes over time. Scott Free is a page turner and a great escape. I found Scott Free to be very satisfying and an entertaining distraction from current events.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing!, June 3, 2003
By 
Richard I. Summers (Port St. Lucie, Fl USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Scott Free (Hardcover)
Unlike other Gilstrap novels, this book drags alone getting pulled by arrogant self centered, self serving characters. The missing boy asks too many questions of which there is no answer "Why me Lord?", etc.
P.S. I rate all the other Gilstrap novels very high. This one I gave up on after 150 pages.
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Scott Free: A Thriller by the Author of EVEN STEVEN and NATHAN'S RUN
Scott Free: A Thriller by the Author of EVEN STEVEN and NATHAN'S RUN by John Gilstrap (Paperback - August 24, 2007)
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