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Billy Straight
Cover of Billy Straight
Billy Straight
Petra Connor Series, Book 1
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
A resourceful runaway alone in the wilds of Los Angeles, twelve-year-old Billy Straight suddenly witnesses a brutal stabbing in Griffith Park. Fleeing into the night, Billy cannot shake the horrific memory of the savage violence, nor the pursuit of a cold-blooded killer. For wherever Billy turns—from Hollywood Boulevard to the boardwalks of Venice—he is haunted by the chuck, chuck sound of a knife sinking into flesh.
 
“Taut, compelling . . . Everything a thriller ought to be. The writing is excellent. The plotting is superior. The characters ring true.”—USA Today
 
As LAPD homicide detective Petra Connor desperately searches for the murderer, as the media swarms mercilessly around the story, the vicious madman stalks closer to his prey. Only Petra can save Billy. But it will take all her cunning to uncover a child lost in a fierce urban labyrinth—where a killer seems right at home.
BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Jonathan Kellerman's Guilt.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
A resourceful runaway alone in the wilds of Los Angeles, twelve-year-old Billy Straight suddenly witnesses a brutal stabbing in Griffith Park. Fleeing into the night, Billy cannot shake the horrific memory of the savage violence, nor the pursuit of a cold-blooded killer. For wherever Billy turns—from Hollywood Boulevard to the boardwalks of Venice—he is haunted by the chuck, chuck sound of a knife sinking into flesh.
 
“Taut, compelling . . . Everything a thriller ought to be. The writing is excellent. The plotting is superior. The characters ring true.”—USA Today
 
As LAPD homicide detective Petra Connor desperately searches for the murderer, as the media swarms mercilessly around the story, the vicious madman stalks closer to his prey. Only Petra can save Billy. But it will take all her cunning to uncover a child lost in a fierce urban labyrinth—where a killer seems right at home.
BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Jonathan Kellerman's Guilt.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book 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...
About the Author-
  • Jonathan Kellerman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than three dozen bestselling crime novels, including the Alex Delaware series, The Butcher’s Theater, Billy Straight, The Conspiracy Club, Twisted, and True Detectives. With his wife, bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman, he co-authored Double Homicide and Capital Crimes. With his son, bestselling novelist Jesse Kellerman, he co-authored the first book of a new series, The Golem of Hollywood. He is also the author of two children’s books and numerous nonfiction works, including Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children and 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, New Mexico, and New York.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 30, 1998
    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.

  • Library Journal

    September 1, 1998
    After a 12-year-old runaway named Billy witnesses the vicious murder of a TV star's former wife, he is pursued by reporters, bounty hunters--and the murderer. LAPD homicide detective Petra Connor is also in the race, trying to save Billy. The multiple formats speak volumes.

  • USA Today "JONATHAN KELLERMAN HAS JUSTLY EARNED HIS REPUTATION AS A MASTER OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER. . . . The writing is vivid, the suspense sustained, and [he] has arranged one final, exquisitely surprising plot twist to confound the complacent reader."
  • People (Book of the Week) "[A] TENSION-FILLED THRILLER . . . A COMPELLING READ . . . KELLERMAN MAKES YOU CARE DEEPLY FOR THIS CHILD."
  • San Francisco Examiner "RIVETING . . . NOBODY EVOKES LOS ANGELES BETTER THAN JONATHAN KELLERMAN."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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Petra Connor Series, Book 1
Jonathan Kellerman
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