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Fadeout (A Dave Brandstetter Mystery)
ISBN 155583552X / 9781555835521 / 1-55583-552-X
Publisher Alyson Books
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On Dave Brandstetter Created by Joseph Hansen
"But with so many dying, we better love each other for real, and all we can--we're so lucky to have the chance." --Cecil, to Dave, in A Country of Old Men
"In many ways a conventional P.I.--although he is in fact an insurance claims investigator--Dave Brandstetter makes for an interesting read partly because he is one of the few convincing (male) gay characters in crime writing. What makes the Brandstetter books very good, however, is the way they combine a compelling, well-written 'whodunit' with their evocation of '70s and '80s Southern California, particularly Los Angeles. Listen to this, from Fadeout (1970): 'Fog shrouded the canyon, a box canyon above a California town called Pima. It rained. Not hard rain but steady and grey and dismal. Shaggy pines loomed through the mist like threats. Sycamores made white twisted gestures above the arroyo. Down the arroyo water poured, ugly, angry and deep. The road shouldered the arroyo. It was a bad road. The rains had chewed its edges. There were holes. Mud and rock half buried it in places. It was steep and winding and there were no guard rails.'
The fact that Joseph Hansen rewrote this passage thirty-four times is typical of his writing style. Wonderfully descriptive of its Southern California settings--and in particular L.A.--in a way few before have been. Chandler and Ross Macdonald spring to mind. The books also have the kind of effortless dialogue (now 'dialogue' has become noticed with the resurgence of Elmore Leonard) that marks a great writer. Added to this there is the kind of characterisation that makes you want to know more and, well, 'care'. Written without being patronising about everyday 'gay life', the books also recall Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. No doubt about it, this sort of writing makes for one of the best series in the genre.
Throughout the twelve books Brandstetter grows--quite literally into an old man--as he comes to terms with the turmoil of his personal relationships. The emotional sub-text (as it were) of the books intertwines with the plot, the two often being resolved together. And what plots! Death Claims (1973), for example, sees Dave in [via]