cover image The Boy, the Devil, and Divorce

The Boy, the Devil, and Divorce

Richard Frede. Pocket Books, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-77658-9

In his 11th novel, Frede ( The Interns ) spins a sprightly tale of a 10-year-old boy's attempt to stop his parents' divorce. Gamble and Skip are exemplary parents, well-to-do New Hampshire professionals who love their son Justin, but they can't stand one another, a situation that gives the child intense pain. His response is to hire the country's meanest divorce lawyer, Weld Pennyworth, known in courtrooms across America as The Devil. At first reluctant to handle the case, Pennyworth is spurred by buried memories of his own divorce-wracked childhood and comes up with a series of novel legal maneuvers to advance Justin's intentions. Frede's workmanlike prose is more serviceable than inspiring, but his plotting and dialogue sparkle with wit and invention. Justin and Pennyworth make an admirable team, splendidly realized; the courtroom scenes are clever and funny. Frede even manages to find a romantic interest for Pennyworth in a somewhat overly neat plot development. The denouement is satisfying and entirely equitable, if not entirely plausible. Because Frede is nicely attuned to the emotional states of the children, his story is poignant as well as amusing. Major ad/promo. (May)