©1990 Whitley Streiber; (P)2009 Phoenix
I was looking for this book in Kindle format, when to my delight I found it here, and narrated (albeit abridged) by the late great Roddy McDowell!
McDowell delivered an outstanding performance for each of the characters, and the villain in particular with a charming nastiness!
I'm not going to waste time with statistics or analyses, except to say that I'm glad I made this purchase.
My only complaint was that the sound quality was not as good as other Audible purchases, but this may have been due to the book being 22 years old, and you honestly can't expect a 22 year old book on tape to have crystal clear sound quality. However, this is why I rated this a 4 instead of a 5.
I intend to listen to this thrilling story many times!
Ears picking up the slack so my eyes can work.
I’m a casual Strieber fan. I’m not overly fond of the books I’ve read of his because they’re sorta typical attempts at being best sellers in the 1980s style. They are usually like a blockbuster of the time with naturalistic characters and settings met up with, say, vindictive wolves or aliens - literary Amblin Entertainment stuff. You know whatever, right? BUT Strieber’s success is his ability to pull startling detail that makes you believe absolutely in these far out or even ridiculous scenarios. In Wolfen, Strieber’s party trick is making you believe in how the mind of a wolf works while on the hunt. I didn’t really like the novel that much, but THAT part sticks with me even years later. BILLY is kind of like that, too, albeit on a less fantastical predator. Which is what makes BILLY sort of nuts. It’s about a child abduction.
I am the age of Billy at the time the book came out originally. I recognize the boy’s world. Afterburner the video game. I grew up hearing often about Adam Walsh. Stranger Danger. Constant vigilance and paranoia that at any second a predator could grab you like a boogyman and pull you off the face of the earth forever except for a milk carton.
That’s part of what makes BILLY so vivid for me. It’s also so bravely written and observant. Strieber has to be a little nuts, haha. If you know anything about his background, you already know this. But, man. I can’t imagine what sort of flack he might have gotten for just imagining being the kind of guy who sees children as....well. You know.
I usually avoid abridged novels like the plague. In this case, given the subject matter, I find myself happy it’s not the full novel. I don’t think I could live for long in the world of this child abductor’s world or the terrified boy and his grieving parents.
NOTE: As mentioned by another reviewer, the audio quality SUCKS. I don’t think the age of the recording is a valid excuse. It sounds like a third generation cassette copy. There’s really no excuse for this. Oddly it lends the book an extra layer of unease that sort of works for the material -- like a shadowy horror movie. I might be turning lemons to lemonade there. I’d rather have a clearer copy of this recording.
I would recommend it if they were interested in true crime or in the study of psycopaths. It is very realistic in terms of desire of unbalanced individuals and the use of torture by kidnappers. Really gets into the head of the kidnapper in a disturbing way. Makes me wonder a little about the author!
In the black room, meeting his "brothers".
Inside every serial killer is his mother. Truthfully I found this a little like the movie "Psycho".
The performance was superb but the audio quality was mediocre. There was considerable rumble, boominess, noise and a lack of clarity. There were some squeals that made me think it was recorded on a cheap reel to reel recorder many years ago. Performance, story and writing 4 out of 5, audio 2 out of 5. I can only say I have heard worse on audible.
McDowall's performance invoked the sadistic tortured mind of Barton Royle. He gave me chills.
Whitley Strieber and Roddy McDowell made this story come to life and made me hold my kids a little tighter at night.
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