Even Steven

3.88 avg rating
( 392 ratings by GoodReads )
 
9780140292428: Even Steven

Another rocket-paced thriller from John Gilstrap that pulls at the heart. What Bobby and Sue Martin want more than anything is to have a child of their own. After several failed attempts they decide to take a restorative camping trip. Never did they dream their prayers would be answered when a small, filthy, whimpering child stumbles into their campsite. The boy's violent kidnappers quickly appear - and in an explosive and chaotic struggle, the Martins are drawn into an unthinkable crime: the brutal murder of a cop...EVEN STEVEN takes place during one twenty-four hour period - a day you wouldn't wish upon your worst enemy.

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Review:

Gilstrap has produced some highly authoritative thrillers in which characterisation that leaps off the page is seamlessly melded to plotting of machine-like precision. At All Costs was a breakthrough book for the author, and the sheer panache of that book is replicated in Even Steven, which modifies the kinetic movement of the action into something richer and more subtle, with human longing as a key theme.

The Martins, Bobby and Susan, have one desire: to have a child of their own. While considering how their marriage could be consolidated by such a gift, the couple undertake a camping trip, little realising that this will utterly change their lives. An unkempt, dirty young boy, shivering with cold, appears at their campsite, and the Martins' parental urges are soon kicking in. But when the boy's kidnappers make a violent appearance, the couple find themselves caught up in the savage killing of a police officer. Soon they are outrunning a band of dangerous criminals, and while struggling to stay alive, dark emotions concerning their failed pregnancies add a disturbing spin to the situation.

Gilstrap has pulled off two difficult tricks in his invigorating tale: the narrative itself is fresh and innovative (very welcome in these days when many thrillers are content to warm over exhausted plot devices); but he has also adopted and customised a device once very popular in the thriller genre--the action takes place over the course of 24 hours, and Gilstrap ensures that the ratcheting up of tension always has a ticking clock as its motor. Finally, of course, however assured a thriller is at dispensing action, it's the characterisation that really lays claim to a reader's attention. And the conflicted couple at the centre of Even Steven are so roundly drawn that few readers will be able to avoid empathising with them. --Barry Forshaw

Review:

"* 'Another tour de force! He makes reader's palms sweat at the same time that he tugs masterfully at their heart-strings' Jeffrey Deaver, bestselling author of The Empty Chair * 'Tight, suspenseful... tough action thrillers. EVEN STEVEN is no exception.' The Times * 'Gripping and fast-paced... the mounting tension tugs at the reader's heartstrings' The Times * 'Gilstrap has crafted that rare beast: a superior page-turner that manages to pull at your heart' David Baldacci, author of The Simple Truth and Saving Faith"

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