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Billy Straight Mass Market Paperback – October 5, 1999


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345413865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345413864
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,176,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Kellerman isn't just an Edgar Award-winning thriller writer, he's a prominent child psychologist, and it shows in Billy Straight. The hero is a 12-year-old runaway whose sharp mind and straitlaced moral sense make him fit to survive the lurid jungles of Hollywood. One night hiding in Griffith Park, Billy witnesses the butchering of Lisa Ramsey, the cokehead ex-wife of Cart Ramsey, a crummy actor-golfer once busted for pummeling Lisa. Did Cart knife Lisa, or was it his pathetic old football sidekick Greg Balch?

When O.J. was on trial, Kellerman said, "This wouldn't make a good novel," but some of Kellerman's toughest critics say this funhouse-mirror version of an O.J.-like case is his best, better than his famous Alex Delaware series. Psychologist Dr. Delaware has a bit part here, but the heroine is Detective Petra Connor, his distaff equivalent. Kellerman's main strength is his vivid invention of secondary characters and his skill at juggling subplots. When Petra's media-whore boss puts Billy's police sketch in the paper with a $25,000 reward, two marvelously sub-simian bounty hunters join the chase: a vicious Russian ex-cop and the vile biker boyfriend of Billy's stoned-out, trailer-park mom.

Like the kid hero of Russell Banks's Rule of the Bone, Billy enriches his author's customary milieu by viewing it from a new, low angle. The tale is more taut than Kellerman's 1997 bestseller Survival of the Fittest and more riveting than the O.J. case--the cops are smart and justice has a prayer. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Jonathan Kellerman is one of the world's most popular authors. He has brought his expertise as a clinical psychologist to more than thirty bestselling crime novels, including the Alex Delaware series, The Butcher's Theater, Billy Straight, The Conspiracy Club, Twisted,and True Detectives. With his wife, the novelist Faye Kellerman, he co-authored the bestsellers Double Homicide and Capital Crimes. He is the author of numerous essays, short stories, scientific articles, two children's books, and three volumes of psychology, including Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children, as well as the lavishly illustrated With Strings Attached: The Art and Beauty of Vintage Guitars. He has won the Goldwyn, Edgar, and Anthony awards and has been nominated for a Shamus Award.

Jonathan and Faye Kellerman live in California and New Mexico. Their four children include the novelist Jesse Kellerman.

Customer Reviews

Mr. Kellerman's characters have depth and were very believable-especially Billy!
L. Jenkins
I look forward to reading more of this series, since I've only read his Alex Delaware books before.
E. S. Charpentier
Overall there was some real potential with this book but too many loose ends and lack of build up.
djbrkns

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rene Rieser on December 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
J. Kellerman leads you on a roller coaster ride of twists and turns in his new novel Billy Straight. I could not put this book down. Each character is so detailed. Billy is a fantastic, brave, and yet vulnerable boy, and Petra is a strong willed leader with a very sensitive side -- both are characters I would like to see in future novels. The book is filled with detailed information only a child phycologist could right about. An added bonus was Alex Delaware's cameo role. A must read for J. Kellerman fans.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 20, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Want to find out about Kellerman's newest sleuth? Pick up this book and enter the terrifying world of a runaway boy who has witnessed a murder. It is a refreshing change from Alex Delaware. This is not to imply that I am the least bit tired of Alex.I have read all Kellerman's novels and could read about Delaware forever. It is altogether different from his former novels-so it a change of pace and a cleverly woven mystery that wins my applause. That Kellerman can change his tack and produce as equally scintillating a mystery as he has, is mind boggling to me. Petra Connor is refreashingly different, not all brain, not all beauty but an astonishing mixture of both. Her thought processes in solving the many involved aspects of this mystery are fascinating to follow. And Billy Straight is right behind her. He is an intelligent, moral kid whose background does nothing to help him become a survivor, but somehow he manages his day-to-day life in a scary adult world.His character is very believable: if one is a survivor his/herself (and Kellerman has a very good handle on that).
A terrific read: no, the killer is not obvious- you just THINK you know. And the ending is slam-bang! Kellerman is the consumate mystery writer. I particularly am impressed, in all his novels, by the descriptions of people, places and things. He does it in such a way that you do not realize it and suddenly the entire picture is in your mind-down to the color of a man's tie and the shape and color of flowers on the hillside.How interesting that he managed to insert Alex and Milo(from his Delaware novels) in between the cracks of his new mystery. I am curious if they will all be together one of these days. All of his books are great-I have already ordered his next book on Delaware "Monster" due out soon-but I am looking forward to more of Petra Connor,also. Kudos to Kellerman for giving something new and different a try - and succeeding.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Torben Hansen on February 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
... because then I could look forward to a great story and hours of thrilling suspension! I only just recently 'discovered' J.K. and I must say I haven't read a bad book by him so far. And Billy Straight is definitely the best. This is an absolutely great story with plenty of layers and a good plot. I was unable to put it down once I got started and it cost me a good nights sleep and ruined the next day - but who cares :-) Do yourself a favour and read this book - you won't regret it. And then check out some of the other books by Jonathan Kellerman...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I must say, this is the first Jonathan Kellerman novel that I have ever read. The book was quite entertaining, although I find his writing style somewhat awkward (so is Stephen King's - and he sells millions of books!), even at times boring. The ending was definately not a surprise, and it happened so quickly I was left wondering: "Is that it! " There were too many references to O.J., which wasn't really needed (once was enough - but to go on and on about the case, come on, we've had enough!). Billy's character was strong and the writer made you care for him, as he went through his homeless life through the mean urban streets of LA - although I found Kellerman's characterization of Petra kind of flawed, especially the overuse of references to her past. I also found it bothersome and annoying all of the very simple character thoughts throughout the book (she thought, he thought, I thought, etc. etc.). All in all the book was entertaining - although I don't recommend it as the book of the year. But I'll read some other of Kellerman's work and see if it'll change my mind about his writing style and lack of "depth" in the characterization.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Jonathan Kellerman is one of my favorite authors. I've read all his books including "The Butchers Theatre", the Alex Delaware novels and I've just finished reading "Billy Straight". If I had to pick my favorite Kellerman book it would have to be "Billy Straight". Billy is so lovable and moral and I cared so much for and about him. He's a 12 year old runaway from an abusive home who witnesses the murder that sets off this exciting read. I also admired and respected Petra Connor, the very professional and caring LAPD detective handling the case. "Billy Straight" is a great mystery story and much more. The characters are very well defined, there's lots of suspense and so much human interest. What else can an avid reader like myself ask for!! I recommend this book to all my friends and thank Mr. Kellerman for creating "Billy". I hope we'll be reading more about him and also Petra in the near future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "jerb57" on July 10, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Terrific story! I listened to the book on tape of Billy Straight. Alexander Adams is the BEST Kellerman reader. His voice modulation is near perfection. Near the beginning of the book, the child-abuse segments were so disturbing I thought I wouldn't want to finish this book. However, I had faith in Kellerman's skillful writing and he came through BIG TIME. The title character is such a gem. We see his thoughts and his reasoning and are able to appreciate his youthful wisdom. The ending was a BLAST!. Usually I have it all figured out but this one took me by surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation of each of the characters. The pathetic Mom, "Cowboy-Moron", Petra, even the Villan are tightly sketched and credible. This is a great book. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys murder mysteries.
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