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Author Howard Engel on mystery detective Benny Cooperman

The Story


Benny Cooperman, an unassuming yet shrewd Canadian private eye who hails from Grantham, Ont., is the creation of mystery writer Howard Engel. By 1995 Engel is on his ninth Cooperman novel, Getting Away with Murder, and in this clip he talks to Midday interviewer Tina Srebotnjak about it. They discuss the origins and development of Cooperman and his habit of visiting the local Diana Sweets for egg salad sandwiches.

Medium: Television
Program: Midday
Broadcast Date: Aug. 10, 1995
Interviewer: Tina Srebotnjak
Guest: Howard Engel
Duration: 6:30

Did You know?


• Howard Engel was born in St. Catharines, Ont. on Apr. 2, 1931.  The main setting for his Benny Cooperman novels, Grantham, is based on St. Catharines.

• Beginning in the late 1950s Engel worked for CBC Radio as a reporter/interviewer and later as a writer and producer.

• He wrote a parody of Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales, which was published as a book called A Child's Christmas in Scarborough, with illustrations by Bill Slavin.

• The first of the Cooperman mysteries, The Suicide Murders, was published in 1980. Engel wanted to create a uniquely Canadian murder detective, and so set the series' home in an Ontario town.

• Engel wrote The Man Who Forgot How to Read in 2007. The non-fiction book chronicles his recovery from the rare condition alexia sine agraphia, which was brought on following a stroke in 2000. Although he could still write, he could not read. He consulted and became friends with famed neurologist Dr. Oliver Sachs, and not only learned how to read again, but published a new Cooperman novel, Memory Book. Learn more about Engel's experience with this rare conditionby watching this CBC television clip.

• Engel was a founding member of Crime Writers of Canada, a past president, and in 2014, the winner of the inaugural CWC Grand Master Award. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2007.


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