The Boy Who Never Grew Up

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In this fifth novel involving the celebrity ghostwriter, Stewart “Hoagy” Hoag is assigned to write the autobiography of Matthew Wax, formerly one of the hottest directors in Hollywood. Hoag finds himself in the middle of a highly publicized divorce war between Wax and Pennyroyal Brim, the star of his successful series of films. Brim is having her autobiography written as part of her divorce strategy, and Hoag is brought in to tell Wax’s side of the story.

If the divorce goes through, Brim will get half of Bedford Falls, Wax’s film studio, and she plans to sell it to Norbert Schlom, the studio executive who gave Wax his first break but forced him to make films that Wax wanted nothing to do with. The last Bedford Falls films failed miserably, and the next project appears destined to be a flop. Schlom and Brim thus want the divorce and sale speeded up, so that Schlom can take over Bedford Falls before Wax destroys it.

The dueling autobiographies soon uncover secrets about Brim’s past life. Nude photos of Brim, presented as a sweet girl-next-door in Wax’s movies, find their way to a tabloid newspaper after a break-in at Bedford Falls. Soon after, Brim’s lawyer and his boyfriend are murdered. Police detectives assume that the divorce and potential studio takeover provide the motive for the murders, implicating everyone involved as suspects, including Brim and Wax. Hoag, with his inside track to Wax, helps solve the murders. Along the way, he helps Wax to step out of the childhood he lives in and move on to an adult life. Lulu, Hoag’s fish-eating basset hound with ambitions of stardom, makes an engaging appearance as supporting actress.