Box, C.J., (c. 2008). Blue Heaven. St. Martins Minotaur. 352 pages , $23.95.
When two children witness a murder in the Northern Idaho, they run for their lives. But are they safe from the ex-cops they saw commit the crime?
An execution-style murder is witnessed by a twelve year old girl and her younger brother in the backwoods near their home in Northern Idaho. As if that isn’t bad enough, the four men involved see them. Running for their lives, the children soon realize that they can’t trust anyone except an old-rancher whose barn they seek out for refuge.
This part of Idaho has been dubbed “Blue Heaven” by the Los Angeles cops who have taken up retirement there. And it’s the ex-cops that are in pursuit of the children. But more is going on that brings attention to this part of the country. Suspicious $100 bills are surfacing that were part of a robbery from a southern California race track years back. Retired Detective, Villatoro is determined to solve this open case and follow whatever leads he can find. As all the pieces start coming together, the rancher Jess Rawlins and Detective Villatoro must face down these highly skilled and highly motivated ex-cops before they kill the children.
Box skillfully brings together the plot lines and characters to produce his usual back-country brand of justice. And even without his main series character, Joe Pickett, this stand-alone effectively puts the reader in the middle of beautiful country where human weaknesses have met their match. Box manages to introduce all the characters but gradually expose the threads tying everyone together making the climax not so much surprising but more validated. In the spirit of the old-western, good versus evil is clearly laid out but with the twists and turns of modern day crime, weapons and greed. Even if you are a Joe Pickett fan, Blue Heaven still provides all the reasons you love to read C.J. Box but with a whole set of new characters that will grab your heart and scream for justice, the old-west way.
Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson.
The Narrows by Michael Connelly
Book Discussion Questions:
1. Describe Kootenai Bay and how does the nickname “Blue Heaven” fit?
2. What traits does Annie display early on that makes her “a survivor”?
3. Are Monica’s actions believable or is her character conveniently manipulated for the purpose of the plot?
4. Is Rawlins a throw-back to the Old-West hero? What makes him the “unlikely hero”?
Reasons for selection:
I am an avid C.J. Box fan. His Joe Pickett series always sends me back to my summers in Montana, without the murder and mayhem of course. He was recommended to me by a library patron in 2009 and I haven’t stopped reading him. I picked up Blue Heaven because it’s one of Box’s stand alone titles that still takes place in the rugged mountains of the north west.