Saturday, February 7, 2015
Review: BLUE HEAVEN by CJ Box
Reviewed by Craig Sisterson
Wyoming-based mystery writer C.J. Box won the prestigious Edgar Award (the ‘Oscar of crime writing’) in 2009 for this absorbing novel, a tale of frightened children and corrupt cops in scenic northern Idaho.
Twelve year old Annie and her little brother William head out on an unscheduled fishing trip but end up on the run through the woods, pursued by four men they've just seen commit murder. The men know who they are, where they live, and easily persuade the local sheriff to allow them to join the search party for the missing kids. And why wouldn't the sheriff want them helping out? After all, the quartet are ex-LAPD officers who have moved to the countryside to retire.
Annie and William have nowhere to hide and no-one to trust, until they meet elderly rancher Jess Rawlins, who knows something’s wrong in ‘Blue Heaven’ (the place where city cops go to retire), and is willing to make a stand to save the scared kids he discovers sheltering in his barn.
Jess starts by hiding the kids, before further action is needed...
Box writes superbly, drawing the reader into a gripping, intelligent thriller peopled with layered and complex characters. Through his ongoing series starring Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, Box was already known for his great evocation of the mountain and wilderness terrain of the Western states. It's clear the author has a passion for the outdoors, and the people and places of these regions, and that once again comes through in BLUE HEAVEN. He evokes a sense of the rural setting beautifully. However in BLUE HEAVEN Box elevates his already-great writing game to another level, ratcheting up the tension, and more importantly the connection with his characters, to previously undiscovered levels.
BLUE HEAVEN is not only a gripping page-turner, it is an emotional wrench. Something of a cross between a crime novel and a classic Western, BLUE HEAVEN will have readers hooked right to its ferocious conclusion, and deserves all its accolades.