'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.
A rundown harbour is due to be re-developed - against the wishes of those who call it home. When Mr Le, the businessman behind the project, is shot on his way to meet the residents' spokesman, the culprit seems obvious. But then Dave is persuaded to take the case, and finds much more beneath the surface: forbidden love, deadly hatred, and most toxic of all, family honour.
Some of L.A.'s sleaziest characters come to life on the pages of Hansen's taut novel, where Dave Brandstetter makes his 10th appearance as a now-aging private-eye. With a few tricks still in his bag, Brandstetter proves a formidable investigator whose reputation is enhanced by a Time magazine interview. This accolade to his credit, the public defenders' office hires him to probe the murder of a prominent Vietnamese businessman and clear their client, Andy Flanagan, a suspect in the killing. During the investigation, he stumbles onto two more murders in the Vietnamese community, linking them to a startling drug smuggling discovery in the dead importer's waterfront warehouse. Brandstetter's relationship with Cecil Harris, his housemate from Early Grave (1987) continues, this aspect of the story handled with intelligence and sensitivity. The mystery, though contrived, is fast-paced and literate, while revealing little-known facts about Indo-Chinese lifestyles in America. Hansen readers should delight in this latest caper.