Blue Heaven

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This novel won the 2009 Edgar Award for best mystery novel, and (for all I know) they were exactly right. It's an excellent read.

It's set in North Idaho, an area undergoing unsettling changes as long-time ranchers find themselves struggling to stay afloat, while hundreds of affluent retirees migrate in from other states, setting up a distressing number of McMansions and espresso bars. A goodly fraction of those retirees are ex-cops. (Hence the title.)

The action starts when two kids, Annie and William, from a semi-broken family take off on an impromptu fishing expedition. They're deep in the woods when they encounter a grisly crime: three men cold-bloodedly executing one of their comrades. The kids take off, but the killers see them. And the chase is on.

I'm wondering: how can this guy make this simple chase plot go 350 pages? But he does. In a tightly-plotted choreography, the kids have some good guys on their side: an aging rancher, and a retired cop investigating a long-ago heist in his little California town outside L. A. But the bad guys are also resourceful, and have their fingers into the community.

Every character is sharply drawn, from the major heroes and villains to the bit players: a snoopy lady mail carrier, a hapless local sheriff, a bank officer wracked with guilt (about more than one thing, it turns out).

I'd never read anything by C. J. Box before, but he's very good. Next shopping trip through the Amazon…

Last Modified 2024-01-30 1:15 PM EDT