A twelve-year-old girl and her younger brother go on the run in the woods of North Idaho, pursued by four men they have just watched commit murder---four men who know exactly who William and Annie are, and who know exactly where their desperate mother is waiting for news of her children's fate. Retired cops from Los Angeles, the killers easily persuade the inexperienced sheriff to let them lead the search for the missing children. William and Annie's unexpected savior comes in the form of an old-school rancher teetering on the brink of foreclosure. But as one man against four who will stop at nothing to silence their witnesses, Jess Rawlins needs allies, and he knows that one word to the wrong person could seal the fate of the children or their mother. In a town where most of the ranches like his have turned into acres of ranchettes populated by strangers, finding someone to trust won't be easy. With true-to-life, unforgettable characters and a ticking-clock plot that spans just over forty-eight hours, C.J. Box has created a thriller that delves into issues close to the heart: the ruthless power of greed over broken ideals, the healing power of community where unlikely heroes find themselves at the crossroads of duty and courage, and the truth about what constitutes a family. In a setting whose awesome beauty is threatened by those who want a piece of it, Blue Heaven delivers twists and turns until its last breathtaking page. Blue Heaven is the winner of the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Novel.
*Starred Review* Taking a break from his terrific Joe Pickett series (Free Fire, 2007), Box offers a stand-alone thriller set in north Idaho, a region called Blue Heaven by the many California cops who have retired there. When two kids witness a campground execution, they have no way of knowing the killers are ex-cops they just know they have to get away. But when the first man who offers them help turns out to be another bad guy, the kids decide they can't trust anyone. Their disappearance triggers a manhunt, and when the killers volunteer their services to the beleaguered local sheriff, he puts them in charge. Box deftly juggles a compressed time line and a large cast of characters that includes a good ex-cop who has followed the killers from California, the kids' single mom, a banker with a bad conscience, and a grizzled rancher who becomes the kids' protector. In some ways, this isn't that different from a Pickett novel: set against a New West issue (rampant development), it features likably flawed good guys (the good cop grapples with fear) and springs the noble western archetypes at just the right moment to have us cheering (you just knew the rancher would saddle up his horse). So does this stand-alone stand on its own two feet? Hell, yes. If it's a bit less introspective than a Pickett, it's a bit more of a page-turner. And Box builds suspense so brilliantly that Blue Heaven could serve as a textbook of how to do it.--Graff, Keir Copyright 2007 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review
John Bedford Lloyd's rich, distinctive voice brings a strong sense of power to his reading of Box's first stand-alone thriller. In the rural Idaho town of Kootenai Bay, 12-year-old Annie Taylor and her younger brother, William, witness a brutal murder. Immediately the two find themselves being hunted by killers who will stop at nothing to ensure the children's silence. The two find refuge with an old rancher, Jess Rawlins, and recently retired police detective Eduardo Villatoro. Together, the two men make a desperate stand against the murderers despite being outnumbered and outgunned. Lloyd's crisp, laconic delivery easily handles a multitude of characters, accents and shifting points of view, creating just the right tone for the material and drawing the listener deep into the action of the story. He portrays his villains (a band of dirty ex-cops) with just the right amount of ruthless menace without going overboard, and he perfectly captures the essence of the aging rancher, imbuing him with the quiet strength and dignity of an iconic western hero. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's Minotaur hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 15). (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal Review
Two young kids witness a backwoods execution-style murder in their rural Idaho hamlet. Worse yet, the killers--four retired cops from Los Angeles--see the children and begin a dogged pursuit. Struggling rancher Jess Rawlins is surprised to find Annie and William hiding in his barn, but he's wise enough to believe their lurid tale. He also astutely recognizes the goodness of a stranger in town: Eduardo Villatoro, a retired detective, is determined to put one last unsolved case--a big one--to rest. Villatoro's case is the final nail in the coffin for these bad cops, and it's up to Jess and him to save the children. Readers will be anticipating the final shootout long before the bad guys catch on. Popular series author Box's (Free Fire) first venture into stand-alone territory is a quick, satisfying, and straightforward--if fairly transparent--read. It should appeal to readers looking for a contemporary Western with an infusion of thriller; Michael McGarrity's books come to mind. Recommended for larger popular collections. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 9/1/07.]--Teresa L. Jacobsen, Solano Cty. Lib., Fairfield, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
C. J. Box writes short stories and novels, including the Joe Pickett series. His first stand-alone novel, Blue Heaven, won an Edgar Award for Best Novel of 2008, and his short stories were included in America's Best Mystery Stories of 2006. He has also received the Anthony Award, Prix Calibre 38, Macavity Award, Gumshoe Award, and Barry Award. He co-owns an international tourism marketing firm with his wife. In 2008, he was awarded the "BIG WYO" Award from the Wyoming tourism industry. His title's Breaking Point and Stone Cold: Stories from Joe Pickett Country made The New York Times Best Seller list. (Bowker Author Biography)