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Billy Straight (Jonathan Kellerman) Audio, Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook

4.0 out of 5 stars 192 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Petra Connor Series

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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.
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Product Details

  • Series: Jonathan Kellerman
  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Abridged edition (December 16, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375402829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375402821
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.6 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,086,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was enormously disappointed with this book and bored. So much so that I skimmed several chapters because I just wanted it to end. This came as a surprise as I am a fan of Jonathan Kellerman and have all his books. Frankly, this does not read like on of his book and makes me wonder if he came up with the plot and had someone else write it as some other popular authors do. This was wooden and laborious, the pace was glacial. The characters are not likable or interesting and none of the book is believable. Its all very caricatural and some of the content is there purely for shock value, except the only discomfort I experienced was for the writer who surely cannot be proud of this book. I will not purchase any more books with the Petra character and will probably borrow the next Kellerman books to make sure the other books are still up to the old standards. This was a complete waste of my dollars.
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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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