Howard Engel

 

Mystery



Memory Book


Korean edition

 

“Engel has produced one of the most unusual and affecting mysteries ever.”
Kirkus Review

“This is a slick mystery, but it’s also a terrific recovery tale.”
The Globe and Mail

“...one of the best Benny Cooperman mysteries yet...Engel does a masterful job...an intriguing perspective.”
Quill & Quire

“A fascinating mystery...”
Library Journal

“Probably his most talked about book in 25 years.”
New York Times

Millionhouse Korea 2009
BUR Italy 2008
Hakurosha Japan 2007
Penguin Canada 2005
Carroll & Graf 2006

Memory Book

A Benny Cooperman Mystery with an afterword by Dr. Oliver Sacks

The most lovable private eye in the business, Benny Cooperman, has suffered a grievous, life-altering injury. He was trying to find a young university professor who went missing, when he received a vicious blow to the head. Benny is thrown in a dumpster and left for dead. When he wakes, Benny is in hospital with no memory of the event, and deprived of the ability to read.

As he works to solve the mystery, Benny copes with a rare condition, alexia sine agraphia, meaning he cannot read, but he can still write. Reading for Benny is Shakespeare and Hawthorne, not to mention Hammett, Chandler and Christie. Writing is only himself. Not much competition there, he says ruefully.

He can quote lines from his high school production of Twelfth Night, but nouns slip from him like an errant bar of soap. His memory book, a three-ring binder where he records important items to keep in his grasp, is his life-line.

With his girlfriend Anna working as field agent, and with two Toronto cops helping, Benny unmasks his assailant. The final scene, worthy of Agatha Christie, takes place in the hospital common room where Benny gathers the suspects.

In 2001 Howard Engel experienced a stroke that resulted in alexia sine agraphia. The condition informs Memory Book, a well-plotted, character-rich who-dunnit, but also a fascinating exploration of the complex mystery of the human brain.

Oliver Sacks, in an afterword, analyzes the rare brain condition and then asks:. “Is the present volume up to the standard of the previous Cooperman novels? My answer, as a reader of detective stories, is ‘Yes, absolutely.’