In 701 B.C. the Assyrian empire was in its ascendancy. It had already vanquished the kingdom of Israel to the north including the capital at Samaria. It then prepared an assault on Judah and its capital at Jerusalem.
But in one of those significant events that changes the course of world history, Assyria was repelled. Jerusalem was saved until 586 B.C. when the Babylonians sacked the city, forcing its leadership class into exile.
Henry Aubin, in a major feat of scholarship, determines that Jerusalem was aided by a Kushite army from Africa which had marched northeast from the Nile valley. While the Bible attributes the Assyrian retreat to an angel and secular commentators cite pestilence, Aubin, in a meticulously documented work, demonstrates that an alliance with the African nation of Kush bolstered Jerusalem’s defences.
Kush, also known as Nubia, was located in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan. A monarchy that existed for more than 1000 years, from 900 B.C. to A.D. 350, Kushites held sway over Egypt from 712 B.C. to about 660 B.C. Of Egypt’s 31 dynasties, this, the 25th Dynasty, is the only one that all scholars agree, was black.
The commander of the Kushite expeditionary force was Taharqa (or as the Bible calls him Tirhakah). This Kushite prince, who had his own interests in halting Assyrian expansion, likely caught the aggressors by surprise as they prepared their siege of Jerusalem.
Aubin offers a thrilling military history and a stirring political analysis of the ancient world. He also sees the event as influential over the centuries.
The Kushite rescue of the Hebrew kingdom of Judah enabled the fragile, war-ravaged state to endure, to nurse itself back to economic and demographic health, and allowed the Hebrew religion, Yahwism, to evolve within the next several centuries into Judaism. Thus emerged the monotheistic trunk supporting Christianity and Islam.
“Mr Engel is a born writer, a natural stylist…This is a writer who can bring a character to life in a few lines.”
“Engel can turn a phrase as neatly as Chandler…Benny Cooperman novels [are] first-class entertainment, stylishly written, the work of an original, distinctive, and distinctively Canadian talent.”
“Benny Cooperman is a lot of fun to hang out. I’m delighted to see him getting into trouble again.”
Donald E. Westlake
“Benny Cooperman is a character who somewhere in the collective literary unconscious of this country was crying to be invented. Canada needed its own private eye and Howard Engel was clever enough to see that he would, of course, have his comic side.”
“The great Canadian detective did not exist until Howard Engel invented Benny Cooperman.”
Globe and Mail
“The Cooperman novels are heavy on full-bodied characters, sharp dialogue and rich humour. Benny just plain charms the socks off anyone he meets.”
“Engel keeps the pace up with lots of plausible funny material about a commercial broadcasting world where ‘heart attacks were as common as head colds’.”
“One of the series’ best…Engel has spent decades at the CBC. He knows all the inside stories about television; that makes the story sparkle.”
Globe and Mail
“His wittiest case ever… Deliciously wicked twitting of the TV industry and a droll homage to Laura produce a comic standout.”
“Engel tells his story with a lot of wit, and the book bubbles along to the end – Engel is a natural entertainer.”
In Dublin on A Victim Must Be Found
“A Victim Must Be Found, like other Benny Cooperman novels, is first-class entertainment, stylishly written, the work of an original, distinctive, and distinctly Canadian talent.”
“Benny is likeable and resourceful, and Mr. Engel has conceived a classic (revenge and retribution) Ross MacDonald plot, and a good one.”
The New Yorker on The Suicide Murders
“Mr. Engel has the tough, cynical private-eye novel, as developed by Chandler and Hammett, down pat… This is a smoothly written, well-plotted book much superior to most of its genre. Let’s hope Benny comes back soon.”
New York Times Book Review on The Suicide Murders
“Howard Engel ranks among the big three of Canadian mystery writers. This is the Canadian murder mystery at its enjoyable best.”
London Free Press on Dead and Buried
“Private eye fans won’t want to miss this one.”
Publishers Weekly on A City Called July
“Murder on Location is Howard Engel’s third Cooperman novel, and his wit and ingenuity of plot show no signs of flagging.”
“Skeleton-rattling good entertainment. With in-depth portraits of loquacious film director, Bard-quoting veteran actor, cheery young female star and that wayward found missus. Chase finale entails, irresistibly, dying Falls.”
The Sunday Times on Murder on Location
“Shooting of a more lethal kind occurs, but the overall impression is of good writing, pleasant characters and an unusual background.”
Daily Telegraph on Murder on Location
“As in the previous Cooperman books, the writing is excellent… the apt phrase seems to come naturally to Mr. Engel.
New York Times on Murder on Location
“In Benny Cooperman, the author has leavened the hard-boiled school of detective fiction with comedy and compassion. With this book, Canada’s first and foremost private eye is well on his way to becoming a cherished national institution.”
Maclean’s on Murder Sees the Light
“If there is a dean of Canadian mystery writers, it is Howard Engel, author of the tragic-comic Benny Cooperman series.”
The Windsor Star
“Howard Engel is in danger of becoming a national treasure.”
“Hard to resist.”
“There’s literary interest galore and much more than murder in Howard Engel’s new book which takes us back to the Paris of Hemingway and Fitzgerald… Murder in Montparnasse is a dramatic change in venue for Engel but the excellent style, charming wit and strong story line are what we have come to expect from him.”
The Mystery Review
“While this novel is at once roman a clef, literary history, homage to and revenge on Engel’s ancestors, and reasonable serviceable mystery, it’s as a peculiarly Canadian coming of age tale that Murder in Montparnasse is most original and successful.”
Quill and Quire
“Engel’s storytelling skills are firmly in place in Murder in Montparnasse, immersing the reader in the expatriate rive gauche atmosphere… Murder in Montparnasse is a success for both Engel and the reader. In an effective move away from rural Ontario and his schlumpy detective, Engel has generated a colorful mystery for his fans.”
The Ottawa Citizen
“Murder in Montparnasse is a success.”
“…the puzzles are valid, the clues fair, the background breathtaking and the action fast.”
Globe and Mail on Murder on Location
“What sets Howard Engel’s Benny Cooperman apart from other private eyes, though, is his sheer Canadian-ness; a genuine Canuck galosh amid a sea of lookalike gumshoes, as appealing and distinctive as Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall’s Martin Beck of Sweden; and James McClure’s Lieutenant Kramer of Trekkerburg, S.A., were in the seventies, or Arthur Upfield’s Inspector Bona parte of Queensland was a generation ago. Which is, no doubt, why Engel’s second book, The Ransom Game, has been published in England by the renowned house of Victor Gollancz, and all three Benny Copoperman books are translated for the benefit of West German crime fiction fans.”
Globe and Mail
“Is the present volume up to the standard of the previous Benny Cooperman novels? My answer, as a reader of detective stories, is “Yes, absolutely.” Indeed, I think this may be the most remarkable of them all, because of its special personal dimension.”
Oliver Sacks on Memory Book
“He uses his novelistic gifts to spin a tale that is equal parts heart-wrenching, inspiring, and self-deprecatingly funny.”
Paul Chillen on The Man Who Forgot How to Read
Quill and Quire
“Enthralling and engaging, Engel’s memoir is like no other — a best-selling writer who is inflicted with a rare disease, wherein he could still write but could no longer read, and how he triumphs over the condition.”
Midtown Post on The Man Who Forgot How to Read
“This intriguing account of personal tragedy, overcome with grace and humility, is an inspirational and instructive tale.”