'After forty years, Hammett has a worthy successor' The Times
Dave Brandstetter stands alongside Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and Lew Archer as one of the best fictional PIs in the business. Like them, he was tough, determined, and ruthless when the case demanded it. Unlike them, he was gay.
Joseph Hansen's groundbreaking novels follow Brandstetter as he investigates cases in which motives are murky, passions run high, and nothing is ever as simple as it looks. Set in 1970s and 80s California, the series is a fascinating portrait of a time and a place, with mysteries to match Chandler and Macdonald.
After twenty-one years as an investigator, Dave is finally planning to retire. But first he is drawn into one final case: a tale of kidnapping and murder told by an abandoned boy. With the police unconvinced by the child's testimony, Dave must unravel a sordid story of drugs, jealousy and fraud before he can rest at last.
Fans of Hansen's spare style and wit, refined in the 11 titles from Fadeout to The Boy Who Was Buried This Morning , will mourn if this bears out its subtitle, The Last Dave Brandstetter Mystery . Ex-insurance claims investigator Brandstetter, in his 60s now, is lured out of retirement by an old friend who's found an abused little boy on her beach with a story that hints at murder. It turns out that the boy was kidnapped by a young woman who may have witnessed the murder of her ex-lover. She's a suspect, but there are others: the boy's father, the young woman's father, her current lover. Brandstetter's dogged work uncovers the surprising villain after an enjoyable tour of an L.A. peopled with colorful characters. The subplot involves the memoirs of Dave's high school pal, which worry some ``respectable'' classmates. Hansen's lean style is true to the hard-boiled school and his matter-of-fact approach to Brandstetter's homosexuality is still refreshing. The final scene seems to fulfill the subtitle, but it's also the ending that Brandstetter would want for a class act.