In this town, the bad have it good…
by C.J. Box
A twelve-year-old girl and her younger brother are on the run in the Idaho woods, pursued by four men they have just watched commit murder – four men who know exactly who William and Annie are. And where their mother lives.
Retired policemen from Los Angeles, the killers easily persuade the local sheriff to let them lead the search for the missing children. Now there’s nowhere left for William and Annie to hide … and no one they can trust. Until they meet Jess Rawlins.
Rawlins, an old-school rancher, knows trouble when he sees it. But he is only one against four men who will stop at nothing to silence their witnesses. What these ex-cops do not know is just how far Rawlins will go to protect William and Annie … and see that justice is done.
Review: My first C.J. Box – won’t be my last!
Their mother’s current beau was still there that morning and walked into the kitchen, finding twelve-year-old Annie and ten-year-old William at the table eating breakfast. Following a quick conversation, Tom promised William he’d take William fishing that afternoon – school was letting out early. Upset with her mother that she’d allow that man into her home, and upset that Tom broke his promise to William, the pair set out on their own to the creek. Neither knows how to fish, but Annie is a determined girl; she figures that if Tom knows how to fish, it can’t be all that hard to learn.
But once at the creek, the children witness an execution-style murder and are now on the run from the three men who spotted them. Only, it’s not just the three men: after being rescued, Annie quickly learns that their rescuer is in on it as well. Again on the run, they’ve taken refuge in Jess Rawlins’s barn.
Retired Santa Anita policeman, Eduardo Villatoro, has come to town, wanting to solve a case that still haunts him. A few years back, after the races in Santa Anita, several million dollars was being transfered from the racetrack to the bank. The armored cars were stopped and one of the officers were killed. All this time, the killers were never found, the money still missing. But several of the bills that matched the recorded serial numbers have been deposited lately, most through a bank in Kootenai Bay (Blue Heaven). Villatoro is determined to solve this last case.
Rawlins, an old-school rancher, thinks at first that Annie and William couldn’t have witnessed what they said they did. It didn’t make any sense; especially when the supposed killers turn out to be retired policemen from Los Angeles. But as Jess continues with questions while the children are hiding in his home, he learns that the children were right. Now the four men are heading the search for the missing children, one of them staying with their mother in her house, keeping her away from the public, the media and the phone. And now Jess, divorced with a mentally ill and drug-addicted son, a man about to lose his family’s ranch, is determined to keep the children alive. But what will he do when the killers figure out the children are hiding in his home?
**Fabulously told, rich with descriptions and well-developed characters.
Jess Rawlins doesn’t see himself as a brave savior; he only wants to do what’s right. But he is a strong man with strong beliefs, and he’ll do what he must to protect those children.
Annie – for a twelve-year-old, she’s turning out to be a brave and mature young lady. She does what’s necessary to protect her brother, right down to convincing Jess to teach her how to load and shoot a gun. William believes to be brave, even when scared spitless. I adored the children.
And the killers… they gave me the creeps. Being retired police officers, I think made the creeps worse. Vindictive, manipulative and cunning, I cringed everytime they determined what to do next to find the kids. I hated every single one of them. While they get what they deserve, I still wish more would have happened to them. If you as me, they got the easy way out.
Superb action, intense suspense, well-developed love-to-love and love-to-hate characters, incredible descriptions of what seems like a beautiful and relaxing place on earth, together with a tear-jerker ending, this was my first experience with C.J. Box. I can say with complete honesty it won’t be my last. A huge recommendation!