A PI is hired by a gangster marked for murder: “Benny Cooperman is . . . a lot of fun to hang out with” (Donald E. Westlake).
Benny Cooperman is a very effective detective—though he does get a little squeamish when things turn violent. He is snugly tucked in his bed in quiet Grantham, a Canadian town near Niagara Falls, when three unsavory thugs drag him out and present him like a trophy to notorious crime boss Abram Wise. Someone has made two attempts on the gangster’s life, and with no one else to turn to, he wants Cooperman to investigate.
In this novel from the Arthur Ellis Award-winning author, the colorful cast includes Wise’s two disgruntled ex-wives, an alluring supermodel, an irate foreign car dealer, and an eccentric retired librarian—as Cooperman finds himself entangled in more corruption, vengeance, and intrigue than one could ever imagine existing in a sleepy little village . . .
“The Cooperman novels are heavy on full-bodied characters, sharp dialogue, and rich humor.” —Booklist
“Mr. Engel is a born writer, a natural stylist. This is a writer who can bring a character to life in a few lines.” —Ruth Rendell
Getting Away with Murder is the ninth book in the Benny Cooperman Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
The eight previous adventures of Canadian PI Benny Cooperman (Murder Sees the Light, etc.) have garnered praise for their slick plotting and erudite prose. This time out, Engel's prose still hums, but the plot groans a bit. Despite a life of crime, Abe Wise has managed to escape serious trouble from the authorities. Now he's being shot at and, understandably, wants to know who's pulling the trigger and why. So Abe, with a skillful application of force and coercion, hires Benny. The tale opens with the grisly murder of Ed Neustadt, a retired cop. Later, as Benny reads about Neustadt in a true-crime book about a murder investigation that culminated in the execution of a possibly innocent young woman, he learns that no one, least of all Abe, liked Neustadt very much. Benny talks to Abe's two ex-wives and his two bitter children. He finds out that, back in the 1950s, when Abe was a lowly thief, Neustadt let him walk on a burglary charge. Part of what prevents this effort from rising to the heights of earlier Cooperman mysteries is that Engel paints the pivotal Abe strictly by the numbers, so that the old gangster never emerges as a memorable character. The plot is interesting in an abstract way, but it doesn't achieve enough tension to warrant the complex solution that Benny delivers at the close.