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Even Steven by [Gilstrap, John]
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Even Steven Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Author John Gilstrap's last thriller, Nathan's Run, was a fast-paced, deftly plotted tour de force about a kid in trouble. In his newest, the author serves up another child-in-danger plot, not quite as scary but touching a more sentimental nerve. Bobby and Susan Martin are still grieving the stillborn son who represented their five-year dream of a family of their own. When a frightened toddler escapes from his kidnappers and plunges into the clearing in the West Virginia mountains where the Martins have pitched their camp, he seems to Susan like the answer to her prayers. And when Bobby shoots the man pursuing the little boy, what seemed at first like a justifiable homicide turns into a nightmare; the pursuer is a cop. Bobby wants to surrender himself and the silent child to the authorities, but after several failed pregnancies, Susan is less willing to give up the boy she almost immediately names Steven, after her dead son. Meanwhile, April, the boy's mother, learns he was taken to satisfy a gambling debt incurred by her ne'er-do-well husband. Gilstrap deftly sets April's search in motion, taking her into a criminal underworld of drugs, extortion, and murder and setting up a heart-tugging situation in which the reader isn't sure whom to root for--the child's real mother, trapped by circumstances, or Susan Martin, who'll do anything to keep him. This explosive thriller ends in a hail of bullets, a climax well worth waiting for after a page-turning read that should earn its author a following of new fans. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Corny internal monologues drag down this action-packed third novel by Gilstrap (Nathan's Run; At All Costs), featuring an ill-starred childless couple and a hapless young mom caught between the cops and the bad guys. Still grieving over the recent stillbirth of their first child, a son they named Steven, Susan and Bobby Martin are on a camping trip in the mountains of West Virginia to mark their fifth wedding anniversary when they encounter a frightened little boy and a suspicious man claiming to be his father. After the stranger pulls a gun, Bobby kills him in the ensuing struggle. Finding police ID on the corpse and fearing the consequences of having killed a cop, the Martins take the boy and flee. Having suffered several miscarriages before the stillbirth, Susan believes that God intends the boy to replace Steven. Meanwhile, in nearby Pittsburgh, down-on-her-luck April Simpson discovers that a local drug dealer has kidnapped her two-year-old son, Justin, to hold as a hostage until he can collect a debt from her ne'er-do-well husband. Desperate for her child's safety, April threatens a mob boss with blackmail and is arrested while attempting armed robbery of a department store. Elsewhere, on a rundown farm, the brother of the man Bobby killed is anguishing over not having come to his sibling's rescue. The hero-protagonist (of sorts) who connects all three stories is aging FBI agent Russell Coates, himself embroiled in an old bull/young bull struggle for king of the hill. Although underdeveloped characters, hokey escapes and rescues replete with pulp romance epiphanies give the thriller a comic opera ring, its swift forward motion will speed readers past its flaws. Agent, Molly Friedrich. 7-city author tour. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 877 KB
  • Print Length: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (March 18, 2003)
  • Publication Date: March 18, 2003
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC0O2M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,415 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It's quite obvious to fans of John Gilstrap that this is an author who likes the "chase". In his debut novel, Nathan's Run, he had 12 year old Nathan Bailey being chased by the cops. In his second novel, At All Costs, the entire Donovan family was being chased by the FBI. Now in his third novel, Even Steven, Gilstrap has stayed true to form as we find Susan and Bobby Martin being chased by the cops, the FBI and a kidnapper.
In this book, Gilstrap gives us three concurrent stories that you know will eventually be neatly tied together by this skillful author. In Maryland, Susan and Bobby Martin have been disappointed one too many times in trying to have a baby. After their last mishap, they decide to take a camping trip to West Virginia to regroup and celebrate their wedding anniversary. In Pittsburgh, April Simpson returns home from work to find out that her three year old son Justin has been kidnapped. In West Virginia, two brothers, Jacob and Samuel, have been hired out to kidnap a child. You will travel from state to state during this chase led by FBI agent Russell Coates.
The opening scene finds Susan and Bobby relaxing at their campsite when their peaceful evening is disturbed by a screaming child who is obviously running away from someone. While trying to quiet the child, a man comes running into the clearing claiming to be the boy's father. The couple realize that something is not right with this scenario and challenge the man. A fight ensues, someone is killed and the "chase" begins.
Those familiar with Gilstrap now know they will be in for the ride of their lives. As with his other two books, it is a fast- paced page turner and, midway through the book, you can't imagine how this will ever turn out OK.
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Format: Hardcover
To judge from the blurb on the book's dust jacket, it appears to the reader as if Gilstrap has written yet another imperiled child/family-on-the-run novel for which he's rapidly becoming known. But Pocket Books, John Gilstrap's new publisher, is deliberately misleading the reader into making such an assumption. The central protagonists, Bobby and Susan Martin, spend most of the book either at their house or the mall. The only time they are on the run is when they're escaping the murder scene at the national park and are racing back home. Other than that, it's notable that Mr. Gilstrap was trying to stretch his wings a bit here and leaving mainly his devotion to the family unit as the only common denominator shared by NATHAN'S RUN, still his high water mark, and AT ALL COSTS. Pocket Books, however, would have you believe otherwise. Shame on them.
That said, EVEN STEVEN starts out promisingly. As always, Gilstrap sets up conflicts and situations that actually ENGAGE the reader. You FEEL Bobby and Susan Martin's desperate bid for parenthood, you HURT with April Simpson in her hopeless situation. These are real-life problems that plague so many of us, yet Gilstrap is able to give them even more dramatic impact in his fiction.
But then something very strange happens- the character delineation stops and, while the book takes place over a 24 hour period and doesn't leave much room for character development (OTOH, Susan dramatically swings back and forth from a normal state to a completely delusional state back to a normal state in those 24 hours), the reader is denied the chance for more backstory in these characters' pasts and they become mere automatons for a resolution that is telegraphed all the way from the middle of the book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A young couple lives in drug induced poverty, lurching from one bad decision to the next, barely dragging their small son, Justin with them.

A comfortably wealthy couple struggles to stay together through the valleys and mountains of infertility solutions. Their last failure costing them more than they had to give.

A police detective waffles, just a little, as he begins to identify signs of career burn out in his own thoughts. Just what could make this impossible job worth his whole life?

A big brother tries to care for is "challenged" younger brother. He goes too far, but really, is there such a thing when your brother needs you?

Somehow Mr. Gilstrap weaves together these special people. He takes us into their lives, through some of their despair and into their surprising future. I never saw it coming!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was the longest book I've ever read. Not in pages but in shear agony. I know there really are people this dumb, but I really don't enjoy reading about them. The "good" characters were actually the bad guys. It was just a boring book to me. I normally stop reading when they are this bad, but having thoroughly enjoyed other books by this author I kept waiting for it to get good. It never happened.
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Format: Hardcover
Even Steven was one of the better books I have read in awhile. The story begins with a young couple, camping outdoors on a romantic weekend with the hopes of overcoming their pain of not being able to have a child. Mysteriously, a child comes running from the woods, screaming, a toddler. The couple then becomes involved in a game of cat and mouse, a web of murder and drug smuggling, kidnapping, and intrigue. Their lives are turned upside down in a matter of an hour. The story is fast paced and interesting, and will keep you turning pages. The ending is....well, can't give that one away, let's just say it is an interesting turn of events. This author has a great grasp on how to entice and hold onto a reader.
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