The Unprotected Witness

The Unprotected Witness

4.6 3
by James Stevenson

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After the murder of his father, who has been hiding under the Witness Protection Program, Pete finds himself the target of sinister men who seem to think he knows where a large sum of money is hidden.


After the murder of his father, who has been hiding under the Witness Protection Program, Pete finds himself the target of sinister men who seem to think he knows where a large sum of money is hidden.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW's starred review of this sequel to the thriller The Bones in the Cliff called it "just as skillfully crafted--and even more hair-raising." Ages 12-up. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Sue Reichard
In this sequel to Bones in the Cliff, Stevenson's strong characters, Pete and his best friend Rootie, take readers on a journey from New York City to the New England coast. The pair believe that Pete's criminal father has been safely hidden in the federal witness protection program. When they realize the truth, they begin a terrifying escape to save their lives. This is a fast-paced book and will not disappoint readers.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6In this sequel to The Bones in the Cliff (Greenwillow, 1995), Pete is trying to adapt to his new life in Manhattan with his friend Rootie and her wealthy grandmother. The first part of the book is rather slow; it begins with the murder of his father, who is in a witness protection program in Missouri, but then flashes back to their life on the run from the Mafia, and also explores Pete's alienation at his privileged Manhattan private school. Readers who stick with this section will be rewarded by the sensitive and wry portrayal of Pete and his relationships with his alcoholic father and with the exuberant Rootie. The pace begins to zoom in the second half of the book. At his father's funeral in Missouri, a man furtively passes Pete a letter, whispering that it is from his father. Too upset to open it immediately, he later discovers that it is a coded message meant to lead him to stolen money. Members of the Mafia have been watching Pete and waiting for just such an opportunity, however, so when the boy goes after it, they're ready to move in. The suspense mounts to an almost unbearable level as Pete and his friends attempt to get to the treasure before the bad guys get them. Eminently satisfying as a sequel, The Unprotected Witness also stands well on its own. Hand it to any kid who craves suspense.Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sold by:
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

We took an early plane out of LaGuardia, heading for Missourimy best friend Rootie, her grandmother Mrs. Bowditch, and me.

The United States marshals were going to meet us in St. Louis. Then we'd drive down to the Ozarks together.

It was a rainy day. We sat on the runway for a while, then we took off into the rain, and the water streamed across my window.

Mrs. Bowditch opened her bag and took out her new Roger Tory Peterson bird book. She already had a bunch of bird books, but she'd bought this one specially for the trip: Birds of the Western States.

Rootie asked the attendant what was for lunch. The attendant told her. "Oh, please," said Rootie, and pulled her baseball cap down over her eyes. "See you in St. Louis, she said to me, and went to sleep. Like that: bam.

I figured we were crossing the Bronx. I tried to go to sleep like Rootie, but it didn't work for me.

My father and I had lived in the Bronx one winter. I remembered the sound of planes flying low.

We were on the run, my father and I. We lived on the fifth floor of a tenement, a couple of blocks from Hunts Point Avenue. The whole time we were there, my father never once left that room.

He watched TV on an old set where everything looked like smoke. But he didn't give a damn. He was doing a quart of vodka a day.

I know, because I had to go get it. The same with food. All take-outChinese. Pizza. Chinese. Pizza. Chinese. . .

The stairs in the tenement had no lights. I guess they burned out, or else people took them, but there were never any lights. The steps were narrow and full of garbage. You had to walk down slowly, touching the wall, using whatever light came fromunder people's doors. Sometimes a person would be standing in a hall, silent, not moving. You wouldn't know he was there till you practically bumped into him.

I hated those stairs.

I got the vodka from one of the raggedy-looking guys who hung out in front of the liquor store. I got to know them. They were okay. In fact, they were the only friends I had. After a while, they'd see me coming and start arguing which of them was going to buy me the vodka. I'd hand the money to one of them, then I'd go around the corner and wait in the hall of a deserted brownstone. The floor was tileI'd look at the patterns and the faded colors while I waited. I thought of long ago, and guys kneeling in the hall, putting each tile exactly in its place. Now half the tiles were cracked or missing, and the house was empty.

Then one of the raggedy guys would bring a paper bag with the vodka, and I'd put it in my book bag and go back up to the room.

Some days I'd take a detour past the neighborhood school. If it was morning, crowds of kids about my age would be swarming around the door, yelling and laughing. If it was noon, they'd be in the yard, shooting baskets and fooling around, shoving one another, joking, pretending to fight.

I'd stand and watch from across the street. I hadn't been to a school in over two years.

Copyright ) 1997 by James Stevenson.

Meet the Author

James Stevenson is an op-ed contributor to the New York Times. His popular column, "Lost and Found New York," has appeared regularly in the newspaper since 2003. He was on the staff of The New Yorker for more than three decades; his work includes 2,000 cartoons and 80 covers, as well as reporting and fiction. He is also the author and illustrator of over 100 children's books. He lives in Connecticut.

James Stevenson's books for children have been universally welcomed by young and old alike.

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The Unprotected Witness 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thougth that this book was going to be dumb but it surprized me and i couldnt take my eyes off it i read it every chance i got (and im not really a book person lol)
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like books with weird friendships and momentous secrets you should take a look at. The Unprotected Witness has unique parts that will get you reading more chapters than you plan. I especially enjoyed reading this book becuase of the weird friendsips and secrets.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This great book written by James Stevenson is a great book to read. Mixed with frightening scary things and a little of that that weepy stuff. It is a wonderful book about friendship and how a friend comes through for pete when he needs her most. I give this book 5 stars . It is truly a book to go out and buy!!!