The full tragedy of Cameron's novel, initially set in the 1960s, only hits home at the end, and it's the conclusion that gives his story its power. At the outset, the title character is a naïve English schoolboy ill prepared for encounters with the opposite sex. The book's prologue, in which an unnamed narrator—who "has never really understood girls"—admits he is unsure if he strangled a girl or not, makes scenes in which Billy begins performing surgery on animals chilling. That development coincides with his tentative steps toward a romantic and sexual relationship with Diana Watson, a girl who happened upon him in the woods. But things go less than smoothly for Billy: someone ends up dead and that leads to an especially cruel denouement. Cameron's novel is plotted cleverly and, in his hands, the warped story and title character seem all too real.