Why this book?
The Suicide Murders introduces Benny Cooperman, one of the most beloved characters in Canadian fiction, and a major influence on my own crime fiction. Howard Engel’s 14 Cooperman novels are filled with sharp dialogue and sparkling wit, and play with the tropes of detective fiction. A nice Jewish boy who runs a small detective agency, Benny doesn’t swear or carry a gun, and he’s squeamish about violence—much like my Pat Tierney protagonist--giving the PI genre a distinctly Canadian twist.
The Suicide Murders was released in 1980, and Engel’s impact on crime fiction was enormous. He set most of the Cooperman books in the fictional town of Grantham, recognizable as St. Catharines, Ontario, where he grew up. Engel proved that writers could set stories on their own turf and have them published.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
Ontario PI Benny Cooperman is on the case of a suspicious suicide in this “convincingly complex” mystery “with an ironic sense of humor” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
Myrna Yates shows up at Benny Cooperman’s office asking him to check up on her husband, the contractor Chester Yates, who she believes is having an affair. It seems like an open-and-shut case, until Cooperman finds out that the straying spouse has committed suicide. Something doesn’t add up; Mr. Yates bought a 10-speed bicycle just 2 hours before he killed himself. Could this “suicide” in fact be murder? The Jewish detective’s got a…