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Thursday, October 8, 2015

BLUE HEAVEN (audiobook) by C. J. Box

Published in January of 2008 by Macmillan Audio
Read by John Bedford LLoyd
Duration: 11 hours, 58 minutes

The first C.J. Box book to make it to publication that did not feature Joe Pickett, Blue Heaven is set in north Idaho. The story can easily be classified as a modern version of a classic western story. 

The story starts with a highly respected local rancher, a lifelong resident of the area, who is in danger of losing his beloved ranch to the bank. Newcomers, including an especially large number of retired police officers from Los Angeles, are moving in and local realtors want to take advantage of his financial troubles and turn his ranch into a series of McMansions with mini ranches so that the new residents can play at being cowboy.       

Meanwhile, two kids get mad at their mom and decide to take her boyfriend's expensive fishing equipment out for a fishing trip that he promised to take him on but "forgot" about. Before they even get to their fishing hole they stumble across a group of older men in a campground who surround a member of their group and shoot him with pistols. The kids run and are pursued but are not caught.

From this point the book becomes a race against time - will the children get caught before enough police and volunteers flood the area and find them? But, if they are found, can their rescuers actually be trusted? 

Of course, the stories of the children and the rancher do intersect and when they do a lot of deeper themes come to play such as old ways versus new ways, city vs. rural and commitment to family and justice. 

This is a good story, but needlessly over-complicated and overly-populated. There are a couple of dozen characters, many of them taking a stint as the lead for at least a chapter or two. It is fairly difficult to juggle that many characters when you are reading the book and it is even more challenging to do so when you are listening to it as an audiobook.

Luckily, the book was read by John Bedford Lloyd, a talented reader who was able to create a number of accents and cadences that were distinct enough that I was able to keep up. 

I rate this audiobook 4 stars out of 5.

This audiobook can be found here on Amazon.com: Blue Heaven

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