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Blue Heaven    by C. J. Box order for
Blue Heaven
by C. J. Box
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

With seven best-selling novels already to his credit, perennial favorite C. J. Box offers up another must-read winner in Blue Heaven, a brilliant thriller about a small corner of the world in which decency, compassion, and innocence somehow, against all apparent odds, survive in the struggle to overcome greed, deceit, and murder.

Known as Blue Heaven by the steadily growing number of retired police officers who have moved there from southern California, North Idaho is an idyllic, natural paradise. But the peaceful beauty of this western wonderland is about to be brutally compromised: Annie Taylor (12 years old) and her brother William (10 years old) have headed out from their rural home with plans of going fishing; however, their lives are suddenly in danger when they witness a vicious murder in the heavily wooded wilderness. Running away from the three killers who suddenly realize that a girl and boy have observed their vicious crime, Annie and William make their escape. The Taylor children are, however, unable to return home - because of increasingly dangerous complications - and the frightened brother and sister soon become the subjects of an intense search by local law enforcement officials (who, by the way, gratefully rely upon the volunteer efforts of several retired policemen who have moved to the area from Los Angeles).

Meanwhile - as Annie and William, with a little help from a local rancher named Jess Rawlins, continue to elude the killers but at the same time remain hidden from law enforcement - another retired police officer has just arrived in town. Eduardo Villatoro, formerly with the police department in Arcadia, California, is obsessed about an unsolved murder and a multi-million dollar robbery committed eight years earlier, but now a tenuous trail of small clues has led Villatoro to this small area in North Idaho.

With searchers closing in on the Taylor children, with Villatoro closing in on his unsuspecting prey, and with vicious violence competing with poignant tenderness in almost every pulse-pounding scene, Blue Heaven is a brilliantly written, tension-filled thriller. Intriguing characters, cold-blooded killings, page-turner plotting, ironic secrets, intense evil, and tons of explosive surprises combine to make Blue Heaven the best in C. J. Box's already impressive body of work. Don't miss it!

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