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on 22 July 2010
C.J. Box sets up his plot like a classic western movie, framed by the stunning scenery of North Idaho where the local farming community is being shouldered aside by incomers retiring to the country and real estate agents trying to sell their land for development. One grizzled rancher,Jess Rawlins, a 63-year-old lonely divorcee, sticks to the old ways and his self-reliance (as well as a fair number of guns!) is vital to the survival of two local children who are thought to have been abducted, but are in fact on the run having witnessed a cold blooded murder. As Rawlins befriends - and shelters - the two runaways, he discovers that the bad guys have not only ridden into the nearby town, but have taken it over. A violent, classic western shoot-out is the inevitable outcome. With all its feelings of homage to the traditional Western, where one brave man stands tall in defence of the weak and innocent, this is a very modern thriller, scoring highly on plot,suspense and pace and with characters you believe in and are sometimes terrified by. Blue Heaven also sheds light on the contemporary problems facing the ranchers out in the still pretty Wild West. A cracking read, which will finally establish C.J. Box on this side of the Atlantic.
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on 10 November 2008
This is a very good book by CJ Box and the first i have read by him. The storyline doesn't drag at all, so you find yourself not putting the book down. The storyline of retired bent police officers, who kill somebody as two children watch is really gripping. You feel really sorry for the children, Annie and William, because you wonder who is going to believe two kids of 12 and 8 over four retired LAPD officers? They start to beileve they can trust no-one.
I love the characters in this book, as soon as the badguys appear you can feel yourself want to boo and hiss like at the pantomine!! I would definitely recommend this book.
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on 20 August 2014
First if all I'd like to advise anyone who is interested in this book for their kindle - NOT to purchase it as a single novel- you can buy it along with two other stories from the same author for the same price in the Amazon sale.

A decent little thriller, a good book to carry with you to read on journeys or when you have an idle moment. It's interesting enough to draw you in, but not such a page turner that you end up staying up late to finish it.

I like the Western setting but for me there were just a few too many characters, a few too many viewpoints. What really drew me to the book initially was the story of two children - Annie and Willie - and their perspective on seeing a murder committed and having to flee for their lives. However as the book progresses we see less and less of the action from their viewpoint and their mother Monica hardly gets a look in at all. Since the whole plot revolves around us caring what happens to them, and the horror that a group of grown men would hunt down innocent children I felt the story lost some impetus as we see the action mostly from a bunch of other characters - the rancher who takes them in, the bank manager who has a secret of his own, the retired detective chasing a hunch on his own time etc etc. (Frankly I wasn't sure we needed the character of Villatora the detective in the novel at all - he was a good character but I felt he deserved a novel of his own).

The ending disappoints- the action part of the novel just ends suddenly leaving us with a sentimental finale which didn't really work for me. However over all there's something about this author which gets under my skin and I will definitely try his other books while they are in the sale.
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on 12 February 2011
I have given this novel three stars as I enjoyed three fifths of it. It started so well, this multi-stranded story, whose threads weave together a quarter of the way through. The picture of a small rural town in idyllic countryside is skilfully constructed and characters are developed effectively, bringing to mind the wonderful author, Mary Lawson (The other side of the Bridge, and Crow Lake). The plot races from the start and the book is difficult to put down.

Sadly, just as the tale builds towards the climax, the hero, Jess starts behaving in an inexplicably unintelligent way. Knowing the bad guys are bound to come back, why would he leave the children alone in the house - having given 12 year old Annie a loaded gun and brief theoretical lesson on how to use it - against armed murderers? Why would Jess, a single man in his sixties, think he could go to his local supermarket and fill his trolley with Kids food and think no one would notice? Why didn't he just take the kids to the TV News stand that was pitched in the centre of town and let the kids tell their story on TV? Why did the good guys choose to "hole -up" at his ranch knowing that the murderers were on their way, when they could have just driven away? Yes, the possibility of a road block was considered but, bizarrely, dismissed as the more dangerous option.

I feel CJ Box has great potential as an author, but I think the publisher ought to have sent him away and told him to reconsider his conclusion. Having loved the story so much to start with, I felt cheated by the weak ending.
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on 27 February 2012
In Blue Heaven, Box takes readers away from Wyoming and instead into rural North Idaho. Here readers are transplanted into a former large ranch community that is fastly being developed into housing estates and smaller hobby ranches much to the delight of some but horror of many who liked things the way they used to be. Amongst this community live quite a large number of newly arrived retired policemen, many from LA who affectionately call this part of the world Blue Heaven. Heaven is about to turn into hell though for two local kids Annie and William who witness a brutal vengeance killing and unfortunately lock eyes with one of the killers. The chase is on for their lives as these killers will do whatever it takes to stop these kids returning to town to tell what they saw. With an inept local sheriff, gossiping old lady mail reading mailman and ranchers who like to keep to themselves, the manipulation of the situation seems pretty easy for the killers. Only thing is these killers didn't count on the resilience of these kids and on the man they encounter and enlist to help them. The only thing that bring this storyline down a bit is that Jess could have chosen a bit more realistic and straightforward as well as safer solution for all involved when first encountering his intruders such as driving to another town and verifying the story there. There are a few big coincidences needed for the storyline to happen and the last couple of pages I also thought were a bit, well not up to the standard of the rest of the story. Overall though Blue Heaven is a very good story which C.J. Box fans as well as those who have never heard of his previous work will enjoy.
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on 21 May 2010
I'm off on a road trip to the American Northwest this autumn, and came across this book - set in Idaho and Washington - when doing my research. I had not heard of C. J. Box before.
The book involves a simple suspense story - two children on the run from a bunch of bad retired LA cops, with no-one on their side but a few local has-beens. But the author provides a rich social and geographical backdrop which offers up the stories of the main protagonists' lives as a complex complement to the rip-roaring chase narrative.
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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2011
This was my first C J Box story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a refreshingly different sort of page turner in that it takes place in what I suppose used to be called the wild west. The writing flows easily the characters are likeable and the action seldom flags.
I did think the hero made a couple of ropey decisions late in the story but not to the extent that my enjoyment was in any way spoiled. I just applied the 'we all make mistakes' excuse.

I am pleased to note that there are quite a few other C J Box stories in print and I will certainly be sampling more of them.
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on 11 March 2012
I downloaded the first chapter of this book when it was offered as the Daily Deal, and had to buy the entire thing as I wanted to find out what happened!
Two children witness a murder in the woods near their Idaho home one afternoon when they are playing hooky from school. The killers look up and see that their act has been witnessed and the children, Annie and William, run, and continue to run to avoid the killers throughout the book.
This is a book with three tales which all interlink - Jess, a rancher is wondering if he will lose his ranch to the bank, Eduardo Villatoro is a retired LA cop, chasing one final lead on a case which he never solved, and of course, Annie and William, trying to keep one step ahead of the killers and not knowing which adults they can trust.
This book is a perfect holiday read. It is structured like most action thrillers - short chapters which end at crucial plot points and overall, gradually revealing more and more of the truth, who the killers are and why they killed. I don't think I am giving anything away by saying that the three tales all come together toward the end.
The writing irked me a little to start with . There is a little too much telling rather than showing, but as the book gets going that is less noticeable as the story is a good one.
I felt that while I got to know the adult characters, the character of Annie was not sufficiently well drawn for me. Part of the ending relies on how the adults feel about her and for me this felt a bit lame as I never felt I had got to know Annie - she was never fully realised for me. However, these are small points and while it brings the score down to four stars, overall, the book drew me in. I'd say it was a page turner, but since I read it on a Kindle, maybe screen clicker is more accurate!
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on 7 April 2013
Blue Heaven starts promisingly enough, with two young children witnessing a murder, and then discovering they have stumbled into a conspiracy involving corrupt ex-cops. Not knowing who they can trust anymore, they eventually confide in old rancher Jess Rawlins, who may have his own personal reasons to keep them safe.

While initially fast paced, things slow down as more characters are introduced. While they are all three-dimensional, unfortunately I didn't find any of them (other than Jess) particularly likeable. Some of the motives and actions taken by certain characters seem implausible, if not downright stupid, but then I guess that's artistic licence - most books would be very short if characters always did the sensible thing!

This was an enjoyable enough read, the ideal book to take on holiday, and I imagine it would make a great film. However it just didn't really do it for me for some reason. This is the first C J Box book I have read, and while I would be interested in reading more to see if they are an improvement, I won't be rushing out to buy them.
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on 4 September 2012
I downloaded this 18 months ago, I hadn't read any other books by C.J. Box but it was only £1 and I was enjoying filling my new Kindle.
It had sat in my "to read" collection since then and I finally got round to reading it while on holiday this summer. I hadn't heard of 'Blue Heaven' (or the author) before getting my Kindle so I didn't really have very high expectations of the book, well, what a great suprise, I loved it! The storyline was fast enough to keep the momentum going and to hold my interest, but not so fast that there was no time to connect to the characters. 12 year old Annie is the gutsy heroine and is instantly likeable. There was a small section of the story where I felt it was being unnecessarily prolonged and the part where the man in question (dont want to spoil anything) goes food shopping was very obviously a problem, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story.

I'm now planning on reading some stories from the Joe Pickett series by C.J. Box, although perhaps I'd better get through all the other books I downloaded 18 months ago first?!
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