In this race-against-time debut, a homeless 12-year-old discovers a winning lottery ticket—nearly destroying his life.
Bully and his beloved mutt, Jack, have been sleeping rough on the London streets for months. Bully had scarpered after his mum's death, knowing his mum's boyfriend didn't want him and definitely didn't want Jack. But despite the brutal poverty, Bully's got mates, is a decent beggar, and can keep Jack and himself fed. One day he finds a lottery ticket and learns it's not merely a winner, it's a huge winner—but there's a catch. He's only got a few days to claim his cash from an office all the way on the other side of London. If only he weren't so trusting; spilling his secret to just a couple of his homeless friends has made him the juiciest tidbit of gossip among London's underclass. It's not the greedy spongers who worry him so much as the vicious gangsters. Soon he needs not only to claim his prize, but to protect both himself and Jack from criminals who have no objections either to murder or to (sometimes explicit) sadistic animal cruelty. Somewhat unbelievably, the only trustworthy allies Bully finds are a kindly middle class family rather than all his street-wise friends. There’s no denying that Byrne can write hard-core action that keeps the pages turning; here’s hoping eighth- and ninth-graders who'll love the high-voltage thrills won't mind Bully's relative youth.
Boy and dog make a redoubtable, memorable team. (Thriller. 12-14)