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Blue Heaven: A Novel Paperback – June 23, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 346 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of this overly complicated thriller from bestseller Box, his first stand-alone, siblings Annie and William Taylor, ages 12 and 10, witness a gruesome murder in the woods outside the small Idaho town of Kootenai Bay, nicknamed Blue Heaven for its abundance of retired LAPD officers. Annie and William make a run for it after they're spotted by the killers, a group of crooked LAPD cops who retired to Idaho eight years earlier after pulling a complicated heist in California that left a man dead. Rancher Jess Rawlins becomes the children's only hope of survival after they take refuge in his barn. Jess must stay one step ahead of the killers, who have volunteered to help the local authorities investigate the children's disappearance. Annie and William's mother is frantic, as the scheming officers try to persuade her the children are gone for good. A subplot involving a retired California detective pursuing the original robbery case adds too many extra characters and undercuts the suspense. Readers expecting the same brisk story lines as the author's Joe Pickett crime novels (Free Fire, etc.) will be disappointed. 100,000 first printing; author tour. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A thriller with a heart.” ―The Boston Globe

“One of the best thrillers of the year. It kept me up most of the night, the way few books have ever done. C.J. Box owes me a night's sleep!” ―Tess Gerritsen

“A first-rate thriller, peopled by complex characters and unpredictable action. Don't miss it.” ―T. Jefferson Parker

“A first-rate, edge-of-your seat read.” ―Omaha World-Herald

“A non-stop thrill ride--a provocative suspense novel that has you rooting for the characters every step of the way.” ―Harlan Coben

“An unusual, intelligent thriller that resonates long after the last page is turned.” ―George Pelecanos

“A suspenseful tour de force.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Relentless. C.J. Box sucked me in with good cops, bad cops, and missing money, then blind-sided me with unexpected twists and surprises in this novel of clashing cultures and dark secrets. Box delivers the goods!” ―Robert Crais

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; Reprint edition (June 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312614837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312614836
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (346 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sandra Keith on April 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The plot is not overly complicated--not if you're used to reading mysteries with more depth that Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. My book had excellent print quality, which leads me to believe the person with the badly printed book should have exchanged it for a good copy. I've read everything C.J. Box has published and though I love the Joe Pickett novels, I really liked this stand-alone and I hope Box writes more like this. The action is interspersed with times of thinking on the protagonists parts but when the whole story was done, everything came together in a logical way. It was an excellent read and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes mystery and action all in one novel.
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Format: Kindle Edition
is is the first time I have read anything by CJ Box and I was pleasantly surprised. When a cache of former LA cops enters the Idaho valley, nothing seems amiss at first glance. But then Annie and William witness a murder and things change dramatically. Nothing is as it seems, which not only poses problems for the children, but for everyone in the town. At this point, trust becomes an underlying theme at nearly every turn. Cleverly evading both the killers and subsequent town-wide search volunteers, the children happen upon a barn owned by Jess, a long-time rancher who is having problems of his own. From there the book is not so much a mystery as it is suspense, which CJ Box is able to maintain for the rest of the book. Remorse and retribution are added as elements of the human condition and the listener is further drawn into the plot asking "I wonder what I would have done?" The end is appropriately frustrating because not everyone rides off into the sunset happy. The battle of good versus evil doesn't end fairly although the reader wants it to end that way. Nevertheless, it's understood that the tale accurately mimics real life which is, in its own way, satisfying.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First, a disclaimer: "Blue Heaven" is the first of Mr. Box's novels that I have read, and I picked it up because it won an Edgar (I was hooked after reading the Kindle "free sample" first chapter, in which two children witness a murder and are pursued through the woods). This is a review of "Blue Heaven", not a polemic on the relative merits of book awards, but I will make a brief digression on the subject:

Reading award-winners is not a strategy I often follow, but I like the Edgar awards (and the Mystery Writers of America), because they seem relatively free of the pretension, vanity, and faddish-ness that pervades other literary awards. Therefore I at least try to peruse the fiction nominees and winners. There are so many books out there, and without the Edgars I would never have been aware of Mr. Box's novel. So thank you, MWA.

Now, back to "Blue Heaven". Other reviewers have perceptively noted that this is a modern Western, in ways both subtle and obvious. The obvious western touches include the setting--it takes place in the Mountain West (North Idaho)--and a hero who is, literally, a cowboy. The less-obvious Western hallmarks are found in the narrative structure. Much like a classic Western, the bad guys are known from the beginning (it is not a mystery in the classic sense). Furthermore, the novel builds to an inevitable showdown between the hero and the villains, a final, frenzied scene of violence that would not be out of place in a dusty, sun-bleached frontier town of the late 19th century.

Although the villains are revealed at the outset, Mr. Box takes more time to explain the motives for their crimes, but the "why" is never really important.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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 characters 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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was my first experience in a C.J. Box mystery. Set in Idaho, small town rural setting - good story line - I wonder how a "readers digest version" would read. There were parts that I "skimmed over" because they seemed to extend the novel unnecessarily. I do like a story filled in, but I sometimes wonder if the writer thinks he is getting paid by the word. I don't judge a writer by just one book, so I will definitely try another.
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