Monday, May 12, 2008

Guest Blog--Murder on Location by Howard Engel

While visiting my sister in the Seattle area, we stopped at a local bookstore to browse. A stranger approached me and recommended that I read local writer Earl Emerson. Emerson is a Seattle firefighter who writes mysteries. Emerson turned out to write some of the best mysteries I had read in quite awhile. While living in Virginia, I picked up Laura Lippman and began reading mysteries located in Baltimore. Now that I am spending some time in Toronto, it seemed only natural to look for a local author.

At the small library attached to our lodging, I found Howard Engel. Engel has written a series of mysteries featuring a private detective named Benny Cooperman. The one I picked off the shelf has a copyright date of 1982. It was written when electric typewriters were used to make script changes instead of a laptop. In Murder on Location, Benny goes looking for a missing wife and ends up in Niagara Falls where organized crime has become involved in movie making. Organized Crime is almost enough for me to close any mystery book, but I hung in there and enjoyed Benny’s efforts as he followed the clues to the solution of a crime rooted in local history – not too distant history.

Before I recommend that anyone start reading the handful of books by Engel, I think I will try another of his novels. There were so many characters in the book that I sometimes had a hard time keeping track of them. Added to that, a filmography was attached to each of the characters who was an actor in the story. I did sort out all of them by the end of the book and was very impressed with Cooperman’s ability as a detective.

I’ll let you know if Engel’s later books mature along with Cooperman.

In a side note, I learned that an ice bridge forms across Niagara Falls from the Canadian to the American side during severe winters. Without Howard Engel, I never would have known this fascinating fact.


Blogger said...

Have you verified the ice bridge fact? I guess it shows my distrust of some writers that I've taken to researching little facts I read in books just to make sure they are true.

notaconnoisseur said...

Yes, I read several items on the Internet about the ice bridge. There were also photographs available. At one time little shanties were set up on the bridge and people walked out on them and were able to buy coffee or liquor to take the chill off, but about 1912 part of the bridge gave way and three people were killed. After that it became against the law for anyone to walk out onto the bridge.