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Billy Straight (Petra Connor #1)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  5,848 Ratings  ·  180 Reviews
An LAPD detective races to find a young runaway murder witness in this classic thriller by the New York Times bestselling author of the Alex Delaware series. Reissue.
Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by Ballantine Books (first published 1998)
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Cindee Bowen
Aug 02, 2010 Cindee Bowen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent story told through the alternating voices of three of the main characters. This might be the best Jonathon Kellerman book I have read, not only a thriller, but a thought provoker as well.
Kaykay Obi
Aug 05, 2013 Kaykay Obi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My fifth Jonathan Kellerman read. As usual, I wasn’t disappointed.

When Billy Straight, a twelve-year-old runaway witnesses a gory murder at a park, he must do everything he can to protect himself from the unknown killer. The deceased is Lisa Boehlinger, a former model and ex-wife of Cart Ramsey, a TV star. Suspicion falls on Ramsey because Lisa had once publicly revealed how he beat her up. Detective Petra Connor and her partner Bishop Stu are called to investigate the case. When the case gets m
aPriL does feral sometimes
This is the best novel Jonathan Kellerman has ever written.

It is a Detective Petra Connor book, the first, I think, of a new series. Delaware, Kellerman's bread and butter character, is mentioned in the last chapter only, so, yes, they live in the same universe.

Want to read a book that gives an excellent picture of a new street kid's introduction to a big city after running away from an abusive home? Want to understand why kids run away in the first place? This is a great thumbnail sketch, with
Nov 24, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kellerman's thrillers are never disappointing. His characters; main, secondary, and even bit; are well-drawn and genuine. In this, the first Petra Connor novel, a young runaway witnesses the murder of the wife of a TV star and Petra immediately suspects said TV star. Kellerman alternates between the viewpoints of Petra, Billy the runaway, the killer, and a couple of other interested parties, but it's not as jarring as this can sometimes be. I really liked how Kellerman got into Billy's head and ...more
Sheila Beaumont
This is an outstanding mystery/thriller, the best of Jonathan Kellerman's novels I've read. The title character is an intelligent, moral, book-loving 12-year-old boy who has run away from an extremely bad home situation and is living in Griffith Park when he witnesses a vicious murder. He flees the park, and soon finds himself pursued by both cops and bad guys. There's plenty of suspense and fast-paced action in this twisty tale, but what I liked best was the cast of well-defined characters, esp ...more
Dec 09, 2016 Bob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Billy Straight is a 12 year old who has run away from an abusive home, he is bright, a voracious reader and is by himself living rough in Griffith Park. One night he sees a murder committed and although he has not been seen he runs from one of his hide outs and heads for another one. Petra Conner and her partner are assigned the murder case. The victim is the ex wife of well know actor and he becomes the prime suspect but Petra has been told to keep the investigation low key and not to have the ...more
Feb 17, 2014 Winston rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Good read... though once again as in many of his books the ending is too dramatic and a bit contrived... too much coincidence... I liked the character of the young boy and the main protagonist Det. Petra Connor. Unfortunately half way through he switched to the antagonist and what he was thinking. Not sure why? Would have been better to leave us in the dark because up to that point there were questions as to who the guilty party was though the obvious one was up there. Should have stayed in the ...more
Aug 01, 2016 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite Kellerman books this book centers on Petra Connor, a LAPD detective and a 12 year old boy, Billy Straight who witnesses a murder. Billy is living on the streets after escaping an abusive home, and is so good and moral, that you ache for someone to scoop him up and give him a chance. Petra is assigned the case, and she tries to track Billy down, as the killer is also after him. A top notch thriller, I wish Kellerman would write more books with Petra as the main character.
Really liked this book. The story is well written. I especially liked how every character had their own style of speaking. Differences in present and past tense. Using I for Billy and he/she for everyone else. Almost without reading the names you knew who the chapter was about. Very nicely done.
Jul 30, 2008 Jonna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is probably Kellerman's best novel. Don't read it if you want a peaceful night's sleep, but if you're looking for well-crafted characters, a suspensful storyline, and lots of twists, this is the book for you!
Jul 11, 2013 Kaylol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was not awesome, it was not exactly thrilling but it was ok.
I liked Petra, though the character could use more exploring.
Jun 07, 2014 Cupcakencorset rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A promising start to a new-to-me series. I look forward to delving further into it.
May 23, 2017 Naomi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Billy Straight who has run away from home because of the abuse by his mother's boyfriend lives in 5 different places out of doors in Los Angles trying to stay hidden and yet have a place to eat and sleep. With no money he has an almost impossible job in doing this. One night he witnesses a murder being committed in the park in which he is staying. He takes off to stay out of harm's way and then he runs into more trouble. The character of Billy Straight is a very charming touch to the book and hi ...more
While I believe it was stretched out way too long, I did enjoy it. There were definitely parts that I felt didn't need to be there...or at least not stretched into full chapters. It did get a bit confusing at times with the way it jumped with each chapter, but nothing that I couldn't handle. It was my first Jonathan Kellerman book and I would definitely say that I will look to read his others.
May 09, 2017 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 3.5. Would have been a 4 if it were about 75 pages less. Way too wordy for me. Also did not especially like the chapters floating back and forth between the cops and the kid (who basically just talks to himself and to me quite boring)........
Mar 12, 2017 Larry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love Kellerman's Alex Delaware books but while this book had a good plot it had way too many vulgar parts.
Karl Marberger
Mar 22, 2017 Karl Marberger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An exciting thriller with a taut plot, sympathetic characters, an a lot of suspenseful writing. Everything you would expect from Kellerman.
Rebecca Burke
Good book if you can keep up with how the narrator tells the story.
Πάνος Τουρλής
Ο δωδεκάχρονος Μπίλι Στρέιτ, ένα αγόρι ιδιαίτερα ώριμο, με ακλόνητη ηθική και με ξεχωριστή διορατικότητα, δραπετεύει από το χάος και τη βία του σπιτιού του και προσπαθεί να επιζήσει στους άθλιους δρόμους του Λος Άντζελες. Ολομόναχος κι αβοήθητος, ζει στα όρια του κινδύνου, χρησιμοποιώντας διάφορα θεμιτά κόλπα για να επιβιώσει. Αργά, μια νύχτα, βλέπει από την κρυψώνα του έναν άντρα να σφάζει μια γυναίκα. Το θύμα είναι η πρώην σύζυγος ενός τηλεοπτικού αστέρα κι έτσι, αναπάντεχα, με τρόπο τρομακτικ ...more
jv poore
A gorgeous, relatively well-known woman is murdered. Billy Straight, a sweet 12-year old boy, recently a "street-kid" after leaving a dubious home; witnesses the murder. All signs immediately point to the woman's actor/ex-husband as the murderer, but due his Hollywood status, Detective Petra Connor is forced to appear to conduct an investigation as if there are no leads. In doing so, another likely suspect emerges while young Billy becomes a most wanted person. As the good guys and the bad guys ...more

Another excellent mystery by J.Kellerman.

Twelve year old Billy, a frightened street kid hiding out in the famous Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, has witnessed a violent murder. He isn’t sure if he has been seen by the murderer, but to be safe he goes deeper into hiding, trusting no one.

Homicide Detective Petra Conner, is part of the investigation team assigned to the Lisa Ramsey murder case. Her body was found in Griffith Park. Forensic evidence suggests that there had been a witness. Eventually, B
Nov 10, 2013 Peg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was recommended by a close friend. She wanted so much for me to read it, she bought me a copy. Thanks, Lisa!!!

This is a fast-moving murder mystery/thriller. I did not want to put it down. Mr. Kellerman does a great job of getting inside his characters' heads and it's helpful to the reader to know what they are thinking. Each chapter was viewed by a different character which meant a lot of going back and forth; however, it was never confusing to me. Of course, I kept waiting for Billy'
Thom Swennes
Sep 28, 2014 Thom Swennes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are many Damn Straights but there is only one Billy Straight; aka William Bradley Straight. Billy is the twelve year old son of a negligent, substance addicted mother and the victim of her abusive, motor- gang want-a-be boyfriend. At a very early age Billy took to the streets to save his life and protect his yet-to-be-used manhood. Safely hidden in obscurity among the throngs of people in the City of the Angels, he survived by his keen mind and high intelligence. That was until that fatefu ...more
Sridhar Babu

Lisa Ramsay...Victim
Petra Connor ) D Inspectors..
Stu Brown...

Billy Straight aged 12..little hero..

Lisa Ramsay Murdered...Petra Investigates..Investigation goes on..list of suspects are investigated..Greg Blech (Ramsay's PA) Darrel( editor)Ramsay (husband of Lisa) are investigated..A book about presidents of USA found in the Crime scene..finger prints checked..leads to a 12year old kid Billy Straight..witness to murder..Billy straight a run away..DI petra sk
Beverly Johnson
Jul 28, 2014 Beverly Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Murder/mystery readers
Novel about teenage homeless/murder/ hope!

Billy Straight is a 12 year old teenager who ran away from home. Billy used to live with his mother and her boyfriend (who is not Billy’s father). Billy’s mother was being abused every day by her boyfriend and the boyfriend mistreated Billy as well. Billy ran away to a park where he picked several locations within the park to hide and seek shelter. One night, Billy was at one of his hiding spots when he heard a car pull up. A man and woman begin arguing.
Jul 11, 2013 Dark-Draco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
This is the first book I have read by this author and I really enjoyed it.

The wife of a well known TV actor is found brutally murdered in one of the cities parks. Suspicion falls firmly on her husband, but wary of the media coverage, the police have to tread carefully to avoid bad press. Detective Connor doesn't much like this, especially as her partner is acting strange, her boss is on her back and she can't find any other explanation. But then evidence points to the fact that there was a witne
Jun 09, 2014 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I found this book in a Little Free Library in NC. It had obviously had paint spilled on it and some of the pages were stuck together at the outside edge. I laboriously cut them apart with fingernail scissors. Totally worth it! Kellerman weaves a suspenseful and complex yarn with so-real-you-could-touch-(and smell-them characters and more twists than a yoga class. His writing is so evocative and vivid, the story comes alive. He also weaves in his background in child psychology in the sympathetic ...more
May 01, 2012 Bob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was reading Jonathan Kellerman in chronological order so I picked this up from the library. It was marked as the first in the Petra Connor series and to tell you the truth I didn't even know there was another series. It wasn't bad but it wasn't anything special either. I was more interested in the chapters form the kid's point of view for some reason. Petra's view seemed to barely capture the surface of what was going on. There could have been more on the department politics in a post-OJ LA or ...more
Feb 19, 2010 Joe rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
Fine writing style, quite creative really, with good character development. But the story was a bit weak. The situations and resolutions too convenient. Flipping back and forth between the subplots was ok, but the story didn't develop very well for me. Billy Staight's situation had little contribution in the end. The Ramsey investigation was small. What did Stu's character have to do with anything other than an attempt to show a considerate domestic side of Petra. I really expected Stu to play a ...more
Feb 08, 2017 Jeanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I have read all of his Alex Delaware books and came upon the Petra Conner series and decided to read one. I am on my 2nd and have the rest ready to read.
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Jonathan Kellerman was born in New York City in 1949 and grew up in Los Angeles. He helped work his way through UCLA as an editorial cartoonist, columnist, editor and freelance musician. As a senior, at the age of 22, he won a Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award for fiction.

Like his fictional protagonist, Alex Delaware, Jonathan received at Ph.D. in psychology at the age of 24, with a specialty in the t
More about Jonathan Kellerman...

Other Books in the Series

Petra Connor (2 books)
  • Twisted (Petra Connor, #2)

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