Sixteen-year-old Scott O’Toole didn’t know when he jumped on a plane with pilot Cody Jamieson that his life would never be the same. En route to Salt Lake City in bad weather, the inexperienced pilot takes them 30 miles off course, ending in a deadly crash. Forced to fend for himself, Scott must use his wilderness-survival training to battle the elements.
Unaware of her son’s predicament, self-help guru Sherry Carrigan O’Toole awaits Scott’s return from a day of skiing. Upon hearing of his disappearance, she panics, knowing that her ex-husband, Brandon, will label her a bad mother. Meanwhile, an enraged Brandon jumps on a plane from his Fairfax home to Utah, demanding answers from Sherry and the police. Despite their ill will, the estranged couple learn they must stick together to save Scott. As they come to terms with their marriage’s failure, their son’s fate remains a mystery.
Perseverance finally leads Scott to a secluded log cabin. But the inhabitant, Isaac DeHaven, isn’t in the market for a visitor. When the truth about Isaac’s murderous past surfaces, Scott fears for his life more than ever and soon flees the cabin, with Isaac in pursuit. From here, Scott Free takes off and never slows down.
The author’s greatest strength is his ability to create characters who are easy to relate to. They don’t possess superhuman skills, but they face enormous tests of will. Gilstrap—a Vienna resident and former EMT/firefighter—distinguishes his thriller by weaving into its riveting plot a moving story of the bonds between parents and children.