From Publishers Weekly
Engel's 11th Benny Cooperman mystery (The Cooperman Variations, etc.) is notable because it's the Canadian author's first novel since 2000, when a small stroke left him with a rare disorder that rendered him able to write but unable to read. His PI hero suffers from the same ailment as he wakes from a recurring dream about a train wreck to find himself in a Toronto hospital. It turns out Benny has been in a coma for eight weeks after being found in a Dumpster near the university with a near-fatal blow to the head—next to the body of a young female professor, dead of a similar head trauma. Using a small notebook in which he jots things as they occur to him—a memory book—Benny and girlfriend Anna Abraham reconstruct his most recent case. An anonymously sent basket of roses triggers the name Rose or Rosie, while the sudden disappearance of a student and a prominent faculty member suggests conspiracy. Engel is better on the mechanics of Benny's disorder, and on his laborious recovery process, than he is at creating sleuthful suspense. Benny's vividness, and that of a variety of incidental characters, carries the book. (Jan.)
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In this new novel, Engel's first book in several years, private investigator Benny Cooperman wakes up in a Toronto hospital. He's taken a blow to the head, he's told, and he now has a rare condition called alexia sine agraphia, which affects the memory and the ability to read (although not the ability to write). From his hospital ward, Benny solves his toughest case yet: finding out how he got there, and who put him there, and why. He also tries to come to terms with his life-altering affliction. While it's a typical Cooperman novel in many ways, the book is also something altogether new for its author: an exploration of his own life. In 2000, Engel suffered a stroke that left him with alexia sine agraphia; his fear, confusion, and sheer frustration permeate the novel, and many of the feelings Benny expresses are Engel's own. The novel could have turned into something maudlin, but Engel keeps the tone remarkably light and breezy. Compelling reading for Cooperman's legion of fans. David Pitt
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