RARA-AVIS: Joseph Hansen

From: bruce@brucemakous.com
Date: 28 Mar 2005

I finally got around to reading some Hansen. I just finished FADEOUT, the first Dave Brandstetter book. Thanks to whoever set up this reading list for turning me on to Hansen. I found Dave a likable character, and Hansen is a very perceptive writer and his descriptions, even 36 years later, seemed very fresh and original. It was sort of a thriller that turned into a mystery half way through. It's understandable that the key themes, largely centered around gays staying in or coming of the closet, were dated, but probably cutting edge for the times. I wasn't sure why Hansen is considered on topic for this list, however. Brandstetter is very sensitive and polite and soft spoken, probably less hardboiled than most cozy protagonists, although he lacks a cat. And his point of view is actually very direct and socially positive. Not noirish at all. Everything is set straight, no pun intended, at the end. There wasn't much noirish irony at all, I found. In fact, it's really just a traditional mystery in a setting steeped in gay themes. My theory is that, in the late Sixties, when FADEOUT was released, anything dealing with homosexuality was considered sort of dark and noirish, hence the reputation that this was a "noir" or "hardboiled" series. Brandstetter is actually billed on the back cover of TROUBLEMAKER, the third novel, as the "hardboiled gay" detective. Anyone else have comments on FADEOUT?


Greg Harness wrote about Dave Brandstetter:

> : He is a brooding character, who keeps digging for the truth long after
> : everyone wishes he would stop. In that way, he reminds me somewhat of
> : Lew Archer, both in his insistence and tenacity, and in the darkness and
> : despair he finds in the lives of the people he meets in the course of
> : his investigations.
> : ---

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