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Benny awakens in a Toronto hospital room with no idea how he got there. He's suffering from alexia sine agraphia, courtesy of a vicious blow to the head. Benny is a mild mannered private investigator, but he's shrewd and tenacious and when he discovers that he was left for dead in a dumpster beside a murdered woman, Benny sets out to recover his memory and reconstruct who was after him and why. Fans of Benny Cooperman will be pleased to see him return in this novel since his creator Howard Engel had a stroke in 2001 and can still write, but he cannot read. Engel is on the mend and recently won the Matt Cohen award for lifetime achievement.

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Jack Stewart
Police Detective
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I haven't had the opportunity to read the other Benny Cooperman books, and I struggled to get to know him in this one. I found the book to have a hominess since it's in a Canadian setting as opposed to the dingy streets of New York or Chicago, and I think the audience that reads this book isn't looking for the ugly depths of what happens.

With a police notebook, every little thing goes down in it, and it's amazing the things you recall by writing three or four words. You can build that into a paragraph of knowledge. The fact of Benny's writing things down when they occurred to him was very consistent with his rehabilitation and with being an investigator and taking notes.

Benny's investigation was convincing in that he had a lot of leads that went nowhere. You can be given a plethora of possible leads to solve your crime, and the only way you're going to get it done is if you extinguish each lead. One lead may become a dead end, but might have a piece that when added to another starts to tie in and make sense. So I do think that Engel's fashion of writing with respect to following up and eliminating leads is very indicative of how you'd run an investigation.

With the cops who come to see Benny in the hospital, Boyd and Sykes, I don't know what they were doing. These two guys were supposed to run the investigation on what happened to Benny and the other victim, but after months they came up with nothing other than they found the car. They didn't even find the dishwasher who got a good look at the people who got out of the car. Very shoddy. Although they might not have wanted to give some of the information to Benny because of his injury, and in an investigation you always have to hold back information.

It's a light book, but I have a tremendously high degree of respect for Engel as a writer.

Other reviews by Jack Stewart:
Blackfly Season