While Alex Delaware, his psychologist-sleuth (The Clinic, 1997, etc.), is out on a one-book hiatus, Kellerman produces his best work yet. Young Billy Straight, fleeing domestic non-tranquility--his mom's a drunk, her boyfriend's a sadist--happens on a woman being stabbed to death. It traumatizes him, of course--not only the brutality of it, but its way of placing on his thin shoulders one more impossible burden. What should he do? Should he tell the police he's seen a license plate number? He's only 12, but Bill is named "Straight" for a reason: he's a boy who takes moral dilemmas seriously. But this time, nevertheless, he runs. Facing the police, risking a return to the misery of his home as well as possible exposure to a killer, is more good behavior than he can force on himself. The murder victim turns out to be the divorced wife of a well-known television star--and a case for the LAPD's Detective Petra Connor, who is less than overjoyed at it, knowing it will be high profile and a media magnet. Launching the kind of professional investigation she prides herself on is tricky business in a fish bowl. Brass will get nervous. In addition, her usually rock-solid partner is already distracted in a way that mystifies her, and he won't explain himself, making Petra feel put upon and deserted. But there's plenty of bulldog in this pretty Detective, belying her laid-back and understated look. Relentlessly, she tracks down the leads that at first point unerringly to the disgruntled and jealous former husband. Soon, however, other possibilities occur, until at last Petra connects with Billy during a climactic, blood-drenched shoot-out that resolves all. An engrossing tale in lean, straightforward prose. Readers leery of Kellerman's style will be hard put to find the purple patches usually associated with it.