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A Dave Brandstetter Mystery Series

Joseph Hansen
Fadeout by Joseph Hansen
Available on (01-11-22)

Fadeout

Book 1
Paperback

A Dave Brandstetter Mystery Series : Titles in Order

Book 6
Dave Brandstetter uncovers a conspiracy in a neighborhood plagued by violence and deeply impacted by white flight.

Gifford Gardens has gone to hell: Persistent flooding has reduced the neighborhood to a slum, a battleground for rival gangs. Anyone who can afford to leave has already pulled up stakes, and Paul and Angela Myers are among those who are left. To make ends meet, Paul takes on long-haul truck driving, which is as dangerous as it is lucrative, and it’s not long before the job gets him killed. 
One night, Paul’s truck flies off a cliff and explodes in midair. Did he fall asleep at the wheel, or was he murdered? Keen-eyed insurance investigator Dave Brandstetter suspects a conspiracy. While digging into Paul’s past, Dave will uncover a connection between his untimely death and the happier years of Gifford Gardens.
 
Book 5
Death claims investigator Dave Brandstetter navigates the opposing realms of evangelical Christianity and the porn business while tracking a lost girl in late 1970s Los Angeles.

Lon Tooker certainly fits the profile: big, strong, a Marine Corps veteran, and recently the target of evangelical crusader Gerald Dawson’s wrath. Tooker’s adult toys and pornography store on the local skid row has recently become the target of Dawson’s church men’s group and their destructive masked raids on “un-Christian” businesses. When Dawson is strangled to death by someone of Tooker’s size and ability, the police see a smut-peddler with a motive. Case closed.

But death claims investigator Dave Brandstetter doesn’t like it. By all accounts Tooker is a softy incapable of such a crime. Actual evidence is nonexistent and assumptions many. And Dave particularly doesn’t care for assumptions based on someone’s sex life.

But Dave is also navigating new personal territory. His father’s death has left him bereaved and for the first time in a long time without a job. Dave quit the insurance company his father built and has struck out on his own as a private investigator. Add in his breakup with his recent partner and he’s a man unencumbered. It’s the late 1970s and Dave may be aging a bit but he’s still handsome, wealthy, and recently in possession of a new convertible Triumph. Looks like it’s not all hard work.
Book 4
The murder of a conservative police chief in a fishing village north of Los Angeles sends death claims investigator Dave Brandstetter into the no-man’s land between cops and activists in this brilliantly plotted mystery, which perfectly captures California in the mid-1970s.

A small-town Chief of Police with reactionary politics and national ambitions, Ben Orton struck fear in the hearts of anyone who fell out of line in his little fiefdom of La Caleta. Most recently that has included gay rights activists pushing for the hiring of a police officer from their community. When big Ben is found in his backyard bludgeoned to death by a large terracotta pot, the police arrest the outspoken gay owner of a local nursery.

Orton had a life insurance policy that brings death claims investigator Dave Brandstetter north to pry. As far as Dave can tell, the cops did almost nothing to investigate Orton’s death and what evidence they did compile doesn’t seem to add up. Dave quickly learns that the pool of suspects is much deeper than the police reported. Ben Orton may have seen himself as a pillar of the community but what many in La Caleta saw instead was a violent man whose commitment to enforcement didn’t always also include room for the law. 

With an ailing father in the hospital and a relationship headed toward the rocks, a very distracted Brandstetter finds himself making more wrong moves than right while those on the other side of the thin blue line are making it painfully obvious his presence is not wanted.
Book 3
Love and money are the easy motives in the death of a California beachfront nightclub owner, but death claims investigator Dave Brandstetter is certain of one thing: the case is going to be far from easy and the police have it all wrong.
 
Rick Wendell wouldn’t hurt a flea. The big, jovial owner of the Hang Ten, a surfing-themed gay bay on the boardwalk, was loved by regulars and new arrivals alike. But Rick was found naked and dead, with a local hustler named Larry Johns standing over him, smoking gun in hand. Wendell’s death is ruled as a homicide and Johns is arrested. Everyone thinks it’s a simple open-and-shut case. Everyone except the death claims investigator, Dave Brandstetter.
 
Brandstetter, a homosexual himself, doesn’t make the same assumptions about the crime scene and easy story it tells. Larry Johns had enough time to escape had he wanted to. Not to mention Johns lacked any discernable motive, especially since the $200 in Wendell’s wallet was left untouched. In an investigation that takes him from sun-scorched hillside ranches to seedy boardwalk bars, Brandstetter gets to the bottom of a twisty mystery in this hardboiled and entertaining portrait of the ’70s gay culture by groundbreaking poet and award-winning crime writer Joseph Hansen.
Book 2
Death claims investigator Dave Brandstetter enters a world thespians and booksellers as he uncovers the true story behind the death of a rare book dealer in this noir-spun masterpiece of California crime fiction.
 
Since a burning accident that left him painfully disfigured, John Oats, a well-liked collectible book dealer, has been self-isolating at his beach house in Arena Blanca, California. An avid swimmer, John Oats had taken to night swimming to hide his injuries from daytime beachgoers. When his body is found one morning smashed against the rocks at the treacherous point near the house, the authorities rule it “Death by Misadventure.”  

Insurance companies don’t much care for verdicts like that and therefore Medallion Insurance, the policy holder for Oats’s substantial life insurance policy, sends out its best investigator, Dave Brandstetter, to poke holes in the story. The night Oats died there was a dangerous storm along the coast, and Brandstetter finds it hard to believe that the bookseller, a lifelong swimmer, would have gone out. As his investigation reveals more of John Oats’s sad story Brandstetter learns that the motives for murder are many.
 
But Brandstetter has his own problems to deal with. Still mourning the death of his partner, Rod, Dave is navigating his own twilight world of grief. His new lover, Doug, is also grieving, and the two men must come to a reckoning of whether their love is an ersatz stand-in for their lost partners or something more.
Book 1
Published fifty years ago, a time when being gay was illegal in 49 out of 50 states, Joseph Hansen’s first Dave Brandstetter novel shattered stereotypes and redefined the Private Eye novel as we know it.

Five decades after its original landmark publication, Joseph Hansen’s Fadeout is as fresh and important as ever. Preceded only by a handful of gay protagonists in crime fiction, Hansen’s Dave Brandstetter, a ruggedly handsome World War II vet with a quick wit, faultless moral compass, and endless confidence, shattered stereotypes and won over a large reading audience, a feat previously considered impossible for queer fiction.

Set in the mid-1960s, Fadeout centers on the disappearance of a southern California radio personalitynamed Fox Olson. A failed writer, Olson finally found success as a beloved folksinger and wholesome country raconteur with a growing national audience. The community is therefore shocked when Olson’s car is found wrecked, having been driven off a bridge and swept away in a fast-moving arroyo on a rainy night. A life insurance claim is filed by Olson’s widow and the company holding the policy sends their best man to investigate. The problem is that Olson’s body was never found. Not in the car. Not further down the river. As Dave Brandstetter begins his investigation he quickly finds that none of it adds up.
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