One of America's most acclaimed suspense writers now serves up a bracingly original nail-biter that takes us deep into the rugged terrain of the Utah mountains.
Sherry Carrigan O'Toole can't seem to apply the prescriptions she offers in her bestselling self-help books to her own life. Six years after her marriage to Brandon disintegrated and he won custody of their son, Scott, there's no room in their lives for her. Hoping to win back the teenager's heart, Sherry arranges a week's skiing at the plush SkyTop Village resort.
But Scott has other plans. Determined to evade his mother's clutches, he jumps at the chance to join a foolhardy adventure: flying a Cessna through a nighttime storm to Salt Lake City for a Metallica concert. After the plane crashes, Scott is lost and alone in the frozen wilderness, miles from anywhere anyone would search for him.
As Brandon and Sherry revisit the old battles that tore them apart, they have to fight a bureaucracy that wants to abandon the search even as their son struggles to survive impossible odds.
Barely alive, Scott finally finds a cabin for shelter. He thinks his troubles are over. When he discovers the truth about the man who lives there, however, it's clear that his terror has hardly begun.
With his latest page-turner, John Gilstrap cements his position among today's most ingenious thriller writers.
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March 19, 2003
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Excerpt from Scott Free by John Gilstrap
P> The Cessna danced all over the sky.
The pilot shouted to Scott over the engine noise, "Everything's gonna be just fine. The storm's just a little heavier than I'd anticipated."
A little heavier. As in, the walls of the Grand Canyon are a little steep.
The pilot tried to put the best face on it. "Forget it. In ninety minutes, our ears'll be bleeding from the music."
Scott shot him a look. "You told me ninety minutes a half hour ago."
The pilot tossed a tense shrug. "Like I said, the storm's worse than I thought."
Metallica was appearing at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, and the pilot -- a ski patroller named Cody Jamieson -- had somehow scared up two tickets from a couple of college kids who'd let the blizzard intimidate them. Nobody in their right minds would risk getting stranded on the back roads of the Wasatch in weather like this.
For Cody, however, road conditions were irrelevant. He had his very own airplane -- a twenty-five-year-old high-wing job that he'd picked up for a song and maintained himself in a little corner of the hangar at SkyTop's private airstrip. The idea was to fly out of the storm, then beat its arrival in Salt Lake City. If they ended up stranded after the concert, Cody knew some people at BYU who'd put them both up in a heartbeat.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
The aircraft lurched violently, the worst bump yet, knocking Cody's flying charts onto Scott's lap. "Air currents," he explained before Scott could ask.
This whole thing was beginning to feel stupid. They'd met less than a week ago while Cody was writing Scott up for skiing out of control on Widow Maker. It turned out that the ticket was little more than a warning, but Scott had gone off like a bomb anyway. He was the only skier in control, for crying out loud. It was a matter of principle. He'd thrown down his poles and his hat, kicked off his skis, and was ready to fight it out. "Why don't you write up those assholes for doing two miles an hour on a black diamond slope?"
Cody ignored the challenge and asked him what he played.
The ski patroller nodded toward Scott's head. "The hair. I figure you've got to be part of a band."
Scott's bushy crop of blue hair had earned him the nickname Smurf from his soccer teammates. "Guitar," he said, caught off guard by the randomness of it. "Lead guitar." Just like that, the acrimony evaporated.