Cover image for Billy Straight : a novel
Billy Straight : a novel
Kellerman, Jonathan.
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[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
New York : Random House Large Print, 1999.

Physical Description:
663 pages (large print) ; 24 cm
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X Adult Large Print Large Print
X Adult Large Print Large Print

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Read bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman in Large Print * About Random House Large Print Editions All Random House Large Print Editions are published in a 16-point typeface In this riveting, astute, high-tension thriller, the creator of psychologist sleuth Alex Delaware weaves a Dickensian tale of innocence, urban depravity, and the resilience of the human spirit, and brings to the page one of the most endearing and finely drawn characters in contemporary  fiction. Twelve-year-old Billy Straight - precocious, heartbreakingly perceptive, relentlessly moral - has fled the chaos and abuse of his life at home and is fighting to survive on L.A.'s meanest streets. All alone, Billy has fashioned a precarious existence for himself, using principled tricks to nourish his body and his mind. Late one night he watches from his hiding place as a man viciously butchers a woman. The victim turns out to be the ex-wife of a television celebrity with a history of domestic violence, and Billy becomes the center of terrifying attention - from the media, from violent bounty hunters, and from the murderer himself. As he runs for his life, relying on his native wit and instincts for survival, Billy is also tracked by a potential savior: Petra Connor, a tough, gifted, beautiful LAPD homicide detective with a past of her own. Breathtakingly paced,Billy Straight brings to life one street kid's efforts to survive in the face of unspeakable evil. Richly layered, emotionally compelling, and peopled by a vivid cast of supporting characters - including Alex Delaware himself in a strong cameo role - this gripping novel represents one of the century's great story-tellers at the top of his form.

Author Notes

Jonathan Kellerman is one of the world's most popular authors. He has brought his expertise as a child psychologist to 16 consecutive bestselling novels of suspense, including The Butcher's Theater, Jerusalem, and Billy Straight and 32 previous Alex Delaware novels, translated into two dozen languages. He is also the author of numerous essays, short stories, and scientific articles, two children's books, and three volumes on psychology, including Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children.

(Publisher Provided) Jonathan Kellerman was born in New York City on August 9, 1949 and raised in Los Angeles. He received a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and a Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Southern California. At the age of 22, he won the Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award for fiction.

He has served as Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Psychology at the School of Medicine at USC and as a consultant to the State of California, the U.S. Army and the Superior Court of Los Angeles. He is the founding director of the Psychosocial Program at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. The first books he published were medical texts: Psychological Aspects of Childhood Cancer (1980) and Helping the Fearful Child (1981).

His first novel, When the Bough Breaks (1985), was made into a television movie and received the Edgar Allan Poe and Anthony Boucher awards. He has also written many bestselling crime novels featuring the Alex Delaware series, children's books, and nonfiction works. His fiction book, co-authored with son Jesse Kellerman, The Golem of Hollywood, made the New York Times bestseller list in 2014. His recent books include The Murderer's Daughter and Breakdown.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Readers rightfully equate Kellerman with blockbuster best-sellers filled with suspense, violence, and intriguing glimpses of the human psyche. His latest is no exception, although Kellerman rests series star Dr. Alex Delaware and introduces two new heroes: 12-year-old runaway Billy Straight and LAPD detective Petra Connor. Billy has escaped his alcoholic, drug-addicted mother and her abusive boyfriend and lives by his wits on L.A.'s mean streets. Petra is an artist turned homicide detective, recently divorced from a husband whose mental abuse left deep scars. The lives of these characters merge when Billy witnesses a violent murder and Petra is assigned to investigate the case. As Petra follows up leads, wades through evidence, and deals with the LAPD bureaucracy, Billy burrows deeper into street-kid anonymity, terrified the killer will come after him. The plot hurtles along at breakneck speed toward a cliff-hanger of a climax that's guaranteed to surprise even seasoned mystery fans. Kellerman, already an icon in the genre, will further cement his status as a mystery master with this diabolically clever thriller. A mesmerizing combination of violence, pathos, misery, and hope. --Emily Melton

Publisher's Weekly Review

Although this is only the second of Kellerman's 14 novels not to feature psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware (the first was Butcher's Theater, 1988), it has all the author's familiar strengths: a broad cast of well-defined characters, a fast-moving plot and themes sponged from the daily news yet turned fresh. (And Delaware makes a brief appearance at the end.) Twelve-year-old Billy Straight, a precocious homeless kid with a taste for reading, flees Los Angeles in terror after witnessing a murder in Griffith Park. The homicide inquiry is headed by Petra Connor, a determined, intuitive detective, and her partner, Stu Bishop, who is distracted by a family tragedy. The murder victim turns out to be Lisa Ramsey, ex-wife of the famous, and abusive, Cart Ramsey, who plays a private eye on a late-night television series. Kellerman does a fine job revealing how memories of the Simpson case shadow the Ramsey investigation, affecting the ways Petra and Stu are allowed to go about their work. The search for Billy by the cops and several villains forces a comparison with John Grisham's The Client, but Kellerman's novel is far more complex, switching points of view among a multitude of characters and amid a series of distinctive subplots. By the dramatic climax, Kellerman has pushed a number of familiar buttons‘but with enough panache and surprises to satisfy his most demanding fans. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Twelve-year-old Billy Straight ran away from his mother's abusive and sadistic boyfriend and is now living on the streets of Los Angeles. He witnesses a murder and suddenly finds himself in the middle of a manhunt. Petra Connor is the lead detective on the case. Her job takes on additional complications: the victim is the famous ex-wife of a Hollywood actor, Petra's supervisors are frightened that this crime will turn into another "OJ," her partner is strangely distracted, and her chief witness is a street kid. This story is told in the voices of both Billy and Petra, and though it could be confusing, it is quite interesting to hear. John Rubinstein, a phenomenal actor, brings Billy Straight to life and makes the characters seem real. Most mystery readers will think they have solved the murder by the middle of the book, but keep listening: the ending will shock almost everyone. Kellerman's (The Clinic, Audio Reviews, LJ 4/15/97) thriller is quite graphic, but it will be enjoyed by most mystery buffs.ÄDanna Bell-Russel, Natl. Digital Lib., Library of Congress, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



In the park you see things. But not what I saw tonight. God, God . . . I wanted to be dreaming but I was awake, smelling chili meat and onions and the pine trees. First, the car drove up to the edge of the parking lot. They got out and talked and he grabbed her, like in a hug. I thought maybe they were going to kiss and I'd watch that. Then all of a sudden, she made a weird sound--surprised, squeaky, like a cat or dog that gets stepped on. He let go of her and she fell. Then he bent down next to her and his arm started moving up and down really fast. I thought he was punching her, and that was bad enough, and I kept thinking should I do something. But then I heard another sound, fast, wet, like the butcher at Stater Brothers back in Watson chopping meat--chuck chuck chuck. He kept doing it, moving his arm up and down. I wasn't breathing. My heart was on fire. My legs were cold. Then they turned hot-wet. Pissing my pants like a stupid baby! The chuck chuck stopped. He stood up, big and wide, wiped his hands on his pants. Something was in his hand and he held it far from his body. He looked all around. Then in my direction. Could he see me, hear me--smell me? He kept looking. I wanted to run but knew he'd hear me. But staying here could trap me--how could he see anything behind the rocks? They're like a cave with no roof, just cracks you can look through, which is the reason I picked them as one of my places. My stomach started to churn around, and I wanted to run so badly my leg muscles were jumping under my skin. A breeze came through the trees, blowing up pine smell and piss stink. Would it blow against the chili-burger's wrapping paper and make noise? Would he smell me? He looked around some more. My stomach hurt so bad. All of a sudden he jumped ran back to the car, got in, drove away. I didn't want to see when he passed under the lamp at the corner of the parking lot, didn't want to read the license plate. plyr 1. The letters burned into my mind. Why did I look? Why? I'm still sitting here. My Casio says 1:12 a.m. I need to get out of here, but what if he's just driving around and comes back--no, that would be stupid, why would he do that? I can't stand it. She's down there, and I smell like piss and meat and onions and chili. Real dinner from the Oki-Rama on the Boulevard, that Chinese guy who never smiles or looks at your face. I paid $2.38 and now I want to throw it up. My jeans are starting to get sticky and itchy. Going over to the public bathroom at the other end of the lot is too dangerous . . . that arm going up and down. Like he was just doing a job. He wasn't as big as Moron, but he was big enough. She trusted him, let him hug her . . . what did she do to make him so mad . . . could she still be alive? No way. Impossible. I listen carefully to see if she's making any sounds. Nothing but the freeway noise from across the east side of the park and traffic from the Boulevard. Not much traffic tonight. Sometimes, when the wind blows north, you hear ambulance sirens, motorcycles, car honks. The city's all around. The park looks like the country, but I know the difference. Who is she?--forget that, I don't want to know. What I want is to put tonight on rewind. That squeaky sound--like he took the air right out of her. For sure she's . . . gone. But what if she isn't? Even if she isn't, she will be soon, all that chucking. And what could I do for her, anyway? Breathe into her mouth, put my face in her blood? What if he comes back while I'm doing it? Would he come back? That would be stupid, but there are always surprises. She sure found that out. I can't help her. I have to put this all out of my mind. I'll sit here for ten more minutes--no, fifteen. Twenty. Then I'll get my Place Two stuff together and move. Where to? Place One, up near the observatory, is too far, and so are Three and Four, even though Three would be good 'cause it has a stream for washing. That leaves Five, in the fern tangle behind the zoo, all those trees. A little closer, but still a long walk in the dark. But it's also the hardest one to find. Okay, I'll go to Five. Me and the animals. The way they cry and roar and smash against their cages makes it hard to sleep, but tonight I probably won't sleep anyway. Meantime, I sit here and wait. Pray. Our Father in heaven, how about no more surprises? Not that praying ever got me anything, and sometimes I wonder if there's anyone up there to pray to or just stars--humongous balls of gas in an empty black universe. Then I get worried that I'm blaspheming. Maybe some kind of God is up there; maybe He's saved me lots of times and I'm just too dumb to know it. Or not a good enough person to appreciate Him. Maybe God saved me tonight, putting me behind the rocks, instead of out in the open. But if he had seen me when he drove up, he probably would've changed his mind and not done anything to her. So did God want her to . . . No, he just would've gone somewhere else to do it . . . whatever. In case You saved me, thank You, God. In case You're up there, do You have a plan for me? From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from Billy Straight by Jonathan Kellerman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.