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Billy Hardcover – August 20, 1990


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Normal by Graeme Cameron
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1st American ed edition (August 20, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399135847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399135842
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #736,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Strieber's latest (after Communion ) is by turns gripping, plodding, truly horrifying and, finally, falsely sunny. Fat, 40-ish Barton Royal, kiddy-clown in an L.A. bookstore, is obsessed with pubescent boys. He wants to be their "father" but when they turn against him he has a "black room" for their punishment. Seeing 12-year-old Billy Neary in an Iowa shopping mall, Barton is smitten. He follows the boy home, craftily and boldly abducts him and begins a nonstop drive to L.A. The book alternates scenes of the devastation wrought on Billy's family, a national manhunt, Billy's growing awareness of his peril and Barton's violent mood swings. We get chilling glimpses of Barton's past--he talks of skinning boys alive--and his plans for Billy. Bright, winning Billy is worn down almost to madness. Barton's tortured self-justification and Billy's brainy sweetness are believable but the other characters have much less depth. The bloody pater ex machina climax is followed by worse-than-expected revelations and an oddly upbeat finale that rings not quite true.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

What a thought-provoking story!
Gerry Griffiths
I was in high school when I came across this book, just browsing through a NYC public library when I picked it up, out of coincidence.
fe
I can't comprehend hurting someone.
Jose Jones

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By fe on October 5, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
I was in high school when I came across this book, just browsing through a NYC public library when I picked it up, out of coincidence. Bottom line - reading this book was an emotionally harrowing experience for me. It is a vivid account of a twelve year old boy who is adbucted from what is supposed to be the safest place in the world - his own bed, a couple doors down from his parents' bedroom. From there, the story takes the reader through a horrendous ordeal of the aftermath of this abduction and what happens to the child. Whitley Strieber tells this tale from multiple points of view. You get the boy, who is living through the worst, most traumatizing nightmare of his life. There's also the mother, experiencing the agony and pain of her only son - missing, possibly even dead, a mother who's only wish is to have him at her side. Then, there's Barton Royal, the darkest character to ever cross the world of fiction, a diabolical child murderer who has an attraction for young boys, someone who wants to make his perverse dreams a reality when he abducts young Billy. This book is not only a tale of suspense. It is a tale that puts things in a frightening real - life perspective. It is a sign that we must truly be aware of children's surroundings. We must make sure that what happened in this book will remain fictional, that it will never, ever become a real - life story. Billy, the book, was engaging from word one. It's a powerful tale with clear prose, a tale that makes the agony, the fear, and the monstrous perversion feel real. That's how powerful the book is. It will truly move anyone who reads it. I recommend it with the highest praise.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Chadwick H. Saxelid on July 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A serial predator (obviously based on real life clown/serial killer John Wayne Gacy) breaks into little Billy's room in the dead of night and abducts him. The queasy similiarities to several recent child abductions makes rereading this book even more disturbing. Every parent's worst nightmare is played out here without a single pulled punch and the result is one of the most disturbing 'horror' novels in recent memory. Recommended for the strong of heart.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Vegan on April 28, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Barton Royal, a clown in an L.A. bookstore, is obsessed with young boys. He wants to be their father, he even fantasizes how much they will love being together. In an arcade, he spots Billy Neary with a group of friends. Unfortunately, Billy doesn't pay too much attention, even when Barton offers him more money for the games. He finds out where Billy lives and abducts him. It's a disturbing book because it can happen and I'm sure that it does. For any suspense/thriller fans, this book is not to be missed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Hansen VINE VOICE on July 6, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was not AMAZED by the book but it was an overall good book. Billy was a very smart child. He tried his best to manipulate Barton. Although it took a lot out of him he was very brave in this story. The only problem I had was the last 60 pages or so. The story just got weird. Then at the very last chapter Billy wanted to go somewhere (I don't want to give anything away) and I just thought as a parent that was a little to weird. Overall a pretty good book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By fe on October 5, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
I was in high school when I read this book. It was a surprise pick I made at a public library in NYC, just through browsing and reading book jackets. Bottom line, when I read this book, I was emotionally gripped by this grim tale of a 12 year old boy who was kidnapped by a monstrous, homicidal pedophile in what was supposed to be the safest place in the world - in his own bed, a couple doors down from his parents' bedroom. This story goes on to describe this child's horrendous ordeal through several points of view. Here you get to see the child living his darkest, most traumatizing fears. You also see the agony and pain of a mother who yearns to have her only son returned to her side. Finally, you are introduced to the darkest side of humanity ever to come across the world of fiction, a child murderer who goes by the name of Barton Royal. This tale is so VIVID that it all feels real - the pain, the fear, the monstrous perversion. A must - read, especially for parents. This is not just a tale of suspense. It is also a tale that shows that children are not 100% safe, that we must truly be careful of their surroundings and that we must watch out for them so that the tragic events that happened in this book never, ever become reality. I give the author the highest praise. The writing is clear and to say that the story is very engaging is an understatement. It was good from the first word on. I agonized right along with the main character, Billy. That's how real and powerful this story is. To whoever reads this - mark my words, this book will truly move you. That's how vivid and powerful the story is. The best read of a lifetime - and that is NOT an overstatement.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on December 2, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Streiber is a very clever and well-polished writer, and I have enjoyed his horror novels for a long time. Billy was one of his books that I never got around to reading at the time of publication.

Unlike his other work, the horror does not have a supernatural theme. The plot has more in common with a mystery or thriller, but Streiber's natural feel for the horror genre lifts Barton from a criminal to a monster.

The book is surprisingly realistic at times, almost to the point of sacrificing pace. I found the material compelling, but somehow not as well structured as some of Streiber's other books.

Three and a half stars. Be aware, the book is very violent and deals with an extremely disturbing theme. It is not suitable for younger readers.
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