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A twelve-year-old girl and her younger brother are on the run in the Idaho woods, pursued by four men they have just watched commit murder—four men who know exactly who William and Annie are. And where their mother lives.
Retired policemen from Los Angeles, the killers easily persuade the local sheriff to let them lead the search for the missing children. Now there’s nowhere left for William and Annie to hide…and no one they can trust. Until they meet Jess Rawlins.
Rawlins, an old-school rancher, knows trouble when he sees it. But he is only one against four men who will stop at nothing to silence their witnesses. What these ex-cops do not know is just how far Rawlins will go to protect William and Annie…and see that justice is done.
- First time reader of Box...
I really liked this book but didn't love it. Too many convenient plot twists. It was a page turner though. The premise reminded me of the movie Copland...a great thriller....more info
- Terrible book
I've no idea how this book won an Edgar. I don't want to post any spoilers, but when the main character can't spot the obvious solution, there's a big problem with the plotting (I mean, even Idaho's got more than one town, and more than one phone).
Not even in the same league as the 2007 winner, In the Woods by Tana French. Go read that one instead....more info
- There's a reason why some books win awards
When I need a good book to read, there's no better place to start than looking at book award winners, especially the genre awards such as the Edgars, the Hugos, and the Nebulas. These contests seem to know exactly what their fanbase wants and expects.
So when I saw that C. J. Box won this year's Edgar Awards, I quickly checked it out from my local library.
That was yesterday. Today, I finished the last page of an immensely satisfying book. BLUE HEAVEN is a story about two children who witness a murder, the old rancher who vows to protect them, and a conspiracy of retired LA police officers who want to shut them up.
Each chapter propels the story along from one of several different characters' perspective, and though some of these character's make mistakes, we find ourselves rooting for almost all of them.
Plus, the novel slowly reveals the nature and depth of conspiracy over the course of the book that's very rewarding. C. J. Box shows us how that conspiracy has ensnared the small Idaho community BLUE HEAVEN is set in.
And, like many modern Westerns such as TRUE GRIT or UNFORGIVEN, BLUE HEAVEN paints a picture of a small-town lifestyle that is modern suburban development and big box stores are eating up "like a snack".
Box writes in clean, economical prose that captures the setting, characters, and tension in the plot almost perfectly. Very highly recommended....more info
- Loved this stand alone! Great read!
Blue Heaven was a stand alone book for C.J. Box and a different form than his series books, but it was an absolutely delicious read. I wish Box would put all his books on tape or CD's. Two youngsters innocently going fishing see a murder by four retired cops killing one of their buddies. Unfortunately, the cops also see the children. The flight is on and the hero is an elderly rancher who basically saves the children. It's a wonderful trip!...more info
- swift action packed plotting
Nice work by Box. This is the second of his books that I have read. I am sort of working my way backwards along his timeline as an author. From what I have read so far, Box is an author who plays within the established mystery/thriller norms. But while playing within these confines, he does a pretty good job.
Basically, this is a story of a couple kids who witness a murder and then are on the run. Along the way as a reader, you are introduced to stand-up citizens, and old fashioned family values. The good guys are of the mythical American Hero mold and the bad guys have no trace of decency. Hmmmm, you know, I would probably give this book a lot less than four stars just based on the plot. Thank goodness that Box is an author who knows how to pull a story along in a unique and engaging manner.
I probably would hesitate to recommend this book to anyone I knew. Their is a lot of better books out there. But to pass a couple of evening commutes, this is a fine book to read....more info
- Good idea for a plot and interesting location but poorly executed.
Having read other books by the same author I knew what to expect; however, this was worse than it should have been. The plot is flawed because the hundred dollar bills would have been spotted deposited in the bank or spent in a store so the whole story is based on false premise. The author needs to take a high school class in English so he can learn basic grammar....more info
- New scene
The author shows he's able to create new characters and discuss different issues. And what he does best, teaches us about something as he entertains us. A good page-turner populated with people who fail as much as those in the real world....more info
- Modern day western/suspense - a new genre for C.J.
Already a fan of Mr. Box's Joe Pickett novels, I almost resented him taking time out to write a "stand-alone".... but I should have known this masterful storyteller wouldn't let me down.... nor let me sleep. "Blue Heaven" has all the best features of his series: beautiful western setting that is almost a character of the story, characters faced with adversity who wrestle with questions of how to "do the right thing"; young children whom Box has an uncanny knack for getting inside their heads, telling their stories so that they ring true.... all of this in a fast-paced chase that will leave you breathless. If only Box could write faster. Somebody take that flyrod out of his hand! In the meantime, pick up "Blue Heaven", for the ride of your life. ...more info
- engaging crime thriller
In Kootenai Bay, Idaho, the Tyler siblings, twelve years old Annie and ten years old William Taylor, are playing in the nearby woods when they witness a hideous homicide. The duo flees, but not before the killers spot them. The culprits are retired LAPD officers who left the force eight years ago after getting away with a local heist; they will not allow witnesses to live as happened back in Southern California.
The preadolescent pair knows their lives are in danger from the retired dirty cops. The kids take refuge in the barn of rancher Jess Rawlins. He sees them hiding there and believes their tale even as the dirty former cops volunteer to help the sheriff's department search for the two missing children.
Although no Joe Pickett, this is an engaging crime thriller as Jess plays cat and mouse with the killers while the children are the cheese. The action is at its best when the story line focuses on the current situation but a sidebar involving an investigation into a Southern California robbery murder takes away from the prime tale of two kids in trouble with their murderous pursuer's part of the rescue team.
- CJ Box fans won't be blue
"Blue Heaven" is Box's first stand-alone novel, after seven Joe Pickett thrillers, and it's a welcome change of pace. (Since the author will release the next Joe Pickett entry in just a few months, this is a nice bonus.) Two young siblings witness a murder in the woods outside their small Idaho town, which has a large population of retired cops. The killers turn out to be former LAPD officers who committed murder in the course of a robbery a few years ago, and the detective on that original case is still investigating. Meanwhile, the dirty ex-cops "volunteer" in the search for the two youngsters, who hid in a local rancher's barn after witnessing the murder in the woods. I liked the way Box weaved the two plotlines together - the rancher's efforts to protect the children, along with the dogged search for the truth by the investigator in the heist that started it all - and thought this "back and forth" added suspense. I also like the nicely drawn younger characters, both in "Blue Heaven" as well as with Joe's kids in the Pickett series. Definitely one to pick up.
Also recommended: A Stranger Lies There - this mystery won the Malice Domestic Award for best first mystery. It has a vivid desert backdrop that should please fans of CJ Box's colorful Wyoming settings....more info
- Must Read Suspense - It will keep you turning pages
The story begins with two kids, Annie and William, hiking in the forest to find somewhere to fish after their mother's looser boyfriend breaks one more promise. There they witness the killing of a man. But they were seen by the kills. The kids take off and try to hitch a ride with a car on the near by road. They are taken to a Mr. Swann's place where they learn that he is part of the group of killers. They go on the run again and hide in a local rancher's barn where Jess Rawlins finds them. He listens to their story about the murder and even though he knows that he should let people know where they are, his gut tells him the kids are telling the truth.
The killers turn out to be ex LAPD, that retired to Idaho. With no one the wiser, they talk the local sheriff into running a task force to find the children. They buffalo the inexperienced sheriff, basically take the mother as prisoner, try to pin the kids disappearance on the looser now ex-boyfriend, while looking for the kids to dispose of their witnesses.
Jess is a rancher that is down on his luck after his wife left him. He is about ready to loose his place to the bank, but just won't quit. He tries his hardest to find a way to get the kids to their mother and keep away from the killers.
And finally there is Eduardo Villatoro is a newly retired officer that is bound and determined to solve a robbery from a horse track in which a security guard was killed and seemingly innocent employees have been imprisoned for seven years. He is following a trail of marked bills to the area. But he gets thrown into the local drama as a bigger picture is shown.
I could not put this book down. I felt for each character and could not wait to see what happened next. This is a must read!!...more info
- Crazy over author Box
A friend had told me of C.J. Box and his excellent novels. Now my daughter and I are determined to read every one. You don't figure these books out until the end is looming in sight. This is as it should be!...more info
- Good Read, But I Prefer the Pickett Books
This book seemed a little more contrived than the Joe Pickett books that Box writes with such skill. But still, it was a compelling thriller which required non-stop reading. The plot was creative but it's resolution was, as I say, a little too contrived for me. The character of Jess Rawlins was very well done. All in all, this was a good winter-time read about northern Idaho. ...more info
- Blue Heaven
First timer for C.J. Box- I throughly enjoyed this stand alond book as I am an advid mystery reader. Great character building and I soo look forward to reading the series. Really good story....more info
- Blue Heaven
Am a retired California Cop living in Sandpoint. Bought book on recommendation of another retiree living here. Fast read. Interesting how the author changed names of locations, but if you live up here you know where and what they are....more info
- random grab from library shelf
Wow! What a great summer read.
A great surprise, for just a random pick-up....more info
- Fantastic Novel
This book would make a wonderful movie! Intense, well written, fantastic plot, original ending.
- From J. Kaye's Book Blog
This was one of those books that started out with the biggest bang. I just knew this was going to be the best book of the year. I even had to remind myself to breath and then kapoowee. It did pick up in spots, but dry in others.
Another complaint is the believability, especially with the ending. Oh sure, it was a tear-jerker, heavy on the emotions. It still lacked in the believability department. I do think this is a good time to add, I'm a minority in my thinking. Most readers raved and raved about it.
- Among the best suspense novels
Children are in the wrong place at the wrong time. They observe a murder. Now they are on the run. A story of some police who have gone very bad, counterbalanced by some good guys. The story is set in modern day North Idaho where times are changing as the area becomes a retirement mecca. But the area sometimes attracts the wrong people.
There are a number of villains of various stripes, ranging from murderers to a town gossip. Justice is served out in different ways as bodies start to accumulate....more info
- Blue Heaven
The area around Kootenai Bay in Northern Idaho was changing. Ranches were giving way to mini estates, ten-acre ranchettes, strip malls, and fast food chains. Some welcomed the change while others saw it as an end of an era. They no longer knew their neighbors, and they didn't know who they could trust, and who they couldn't.
The biggest influx of new residents heralded from LA, Specifically the LAPD. Kootenai Bay had picked up a new nickname, Blue Heaven, for the number of retired police officers settling in the area.
Annie and William Taylor were too young to worry about the changes in the community around them. They were more concerned about the changes happening at home. Tom, the UPS man, had spent the night. Did that mean they were about to have a new Daddy?
Upset with their mother and irritated about yet another broken promise of an afternoon of fishing from Tom, Annie and William head out alone. If Tom knew how to fish, it couldn't be all that hard. They hitchhiked to the stream and followed its reedy shores in search of still waters. Hidden within the reeds, Annie and William witnessed an execution-style murder. They fled into the trees, but not before the retired police officers with the guns saw them.
The newly elected sheriff had little experience. When Sloan and several other retired police officers offered to head up the search for the missing children, the Sheriff readily agreed. He didn't know they wanted to find the children and silence them.
Jess Rawlins was a local rancher. The land he owned belonged to his family for generations, but it now sat on the verge of foreclosure. His wife was gone and his son lost. The ranch was all he had left and that too would be gone soon. He held on to it out of sheer stubbornness, but he knew it was over. When Jess stumbled across Annie and William hiding in his barn, he listened to their convoluted story with growing concern. Were the children mistaken? He had to learn the truth before turning them over to the sheriff.
When Jess uncovered the truth, he knew he would do what he could to set things right. He had to, as much for himself as for the children.
C.J. Box's Blue Heaven is a page turner. The suspense begins on the first page and continues right through to the end. The characters are well developed, varying from wholly in the light to souls as black as the ace of spades. There's heartbreak, tragedy and violence, but we also see a chance at redemption and a touch of hope.
- Blue Heaven
Blue Heaven I have read all of C.J.Box's books
this being the first to not include Joe Picket suprised me though I find it is well written and provides excellent reading from start to finish.
Very enjoyable and highly recommended. ...more info
- Great Book
I hadn't read anything by C.J. Box before and was drawn to this book by its cover. I really enjoyed it and didn't think it was overly complicated as was stated in another review I read. I couldn't wait to pick it up each time. I went out and bought the first of the Joe Pickett series because I really liked the writer's style. Can't wait to get into them....more info
- No Joe Pickett But A Good Rural America Thriller None the Less
Great authors are never tested until they can show they can write something different from their successful series, and there hasn't been many more successful series than the Joe Pickett adventures. Success is exactly what C.J. Box has achieved with his first novel length standalone thriller Blue Heaven. Previously he had also achieved the standalone thriller with his short story Pirates of Yellowstone found in The Best American Mystery Stories 2006. A brief summary of that story is at the bottom of this review for those interested.
In Blue Heaven, Box takes readers away from Wyoming and instead into rural North Idaho. Here readers are transplanted into a former large ranch community that is fastly being developed into housing estates and smaller hobby ranches much to the delight of some but horror of many who liked things the way they used to be. Amongst this community live quite a large number of newly arrived retired policemen, many from LA who affectionately call this part of the world Blue Heaven. Heaven is about to turn into hell though for two local kids Annie and William who witness a brutal vengeance killing and unfortunately lock eyes with one of the killers. The chase is on for their lives as these killers will do whatever it takes to stop these kids returning to town to tell what they saw. With an inept local sheriff, gossiping old lady mail reading mailman and ranchers who like to keep to themselves, the manipulation of the situation seems pretty easy for the killers. Only thing is these killers didn't count on the resilience of these kids and on the man they encounter and enlist to help them. The only thing that bring this storyline down a bit is that Jess could have chosen a bit more realistic and straightforward as well as safer solution for all involved when first encountering his intruders such as driving to another town and verifying the story there. There are a few big coincidences needed for the storyline to happen and the last couple of pages I also thought were a bit, well not up to the standard of the rest of the story. Overall though Blue Heaven is a very good story which C.J. Box fans as well as those who have never heard of his previous work will enjoy.
If you haven't done so obviously you should check out the Joe Pickett series starting with the first novel in that series Open Season. If you are after similar storylines and characters to Joe Picket while waiting for next in the Picket series Blood Trail to come out I'd also suggest the author Ben Rehder. Buck Fever is book one in a series of adventures set in Blanco County Texas with a very similar character to Joe Pickett in game warden John Marlin who could practically be his twin separated at birth and sent to Texas.
For those interested in pirates of Yellowstone it's the tale of a couple of Czech guys on a working visa who have arrived in Yellowstone only to find their promised jobs were not kept by their employer. In exchange for board they help out a struggling mother and decide that blackmail is their only way to prosper in America....more info
- Excellent stand alone
Blue Heaven proves C.J. Box can hop into the sandbox and play with the best of the contemporary crime fiction authors.
I've always enjoyed his everyman, Joe Pickett, series but this stand alone took my breath away. He takes a story of the search for two missing children and asks: Why would they disappear? Where did they go and what did they see? And on the answers to those questions hangs the plot of this marvelous book.
The novel is beautifully textured and masterfully crafted. Part crime fiction, part thriller, Box moves us deftly through the story and balances all the elements to make the book consistently engaging. It's a difficult novel to put down even at 1 in the morning.
The ending is solid and valid. I re-read the ending several times, getting more out of each reading.
A superior effort!...more info
- Not just good. Excellent!
C.J. Box continues to turn out what are not only excellent thrillers but novels of substance. I won't go into detail about this particular book's plot, others like doing that, except to say that I hope someone has gotten the movie rights. This is a great break-out from the outstanding Joe Pickett series and I hope that Box will continue writing for years to come. In the Pickett books you watched the characters develop and you feel that you know them. This manages to do that here in a single volume. The only minor quibble I have is that the young female character, like Pickett's oldest daughter in that series, is a bit too mature in her outlook, I think. But as I said, that's minor and the stories are so good, who cares? This is a "don't miss." ...more info