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Engel’s Benny Cooperman gets a new look

Author Howard Engel’s novels starring private investigator Benny Cooperman have been given an updated look and will be revisiting bookstore shelves, Robert Fulford reports in the National Post.

Penguin has re-launched the first 11 Cooperman books in paperback with a lively new design and a number emblazoned on the spine of each volume, so that obsessive Cooperman fans can shelve them in order of their creation, from No. 1, The Suicide Murders (1980), to No. 11, Memory Book (2005). This is an exceptional publishing event, something the French might do while promoting someone for a shot at the Nobel. Nobody has done it before, on this scale, for a Canadian.

Engel himself suffered great tragedy “ a stroke left him unable to read and struggling with memory problems, as happens to his main character in Memory Book.

By now Engel’s own story has been well told. In 2001, he had a stroke in his sleep and awoke to discover he couldn’t read anything, even The Globe and Mail. He had a rare condition: Aside from the loss of literacy, his memory was damaged, but he could still write and talk. Ever since he’s been re-learning to read while maintaining his literary career. It seemed natural to give Benny his own disabilities, though Benny had to acquire them through violence because no PI, even Benny, has anything so boring as a stroke.