Mysteries of the 70’s

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FadeoutFadeout
by Joseph Hansen
Univ. of Wisconsin/Terrace Books. 187 pages, $15.95 (paper)

Death ClaimsDeath Claims
by Joseph Hansen
Univ. of Wisconsin/Terrace Books. 166 pages, $15.95 (paper)

 

BEFORE THERE WAS John Morgan Wilson’s Benjamin Justice or Lev Raphael’s Nick Hoffman, before Mary Wings’ Emma Victor, R. D. Zimmerman’s Todd Mills, or Mark Richard Zubro’s Paul Turner, there was Joseph Hansen’s Dave Brandstetter, the very masculine, self-assured, openly gay, highly cultured (he likes classical music and avant-garde films) middle-aged claims investigator for the Medallion Life Insurance Company. The University of Wisconsin Press has reissued the recently deceased Hansen’s first two novels in the 12-volume series: Fadeout (1970) and Death Claims (1973). Fadeout begins with a preface by Hansen (written a few months before his death at age 81), which succinctly traces the origin of the pioneering detective series set in Southern California, featuring,   according to Hansen’s obituary in the Los Angeles Times, “the first major gay protagonist in the mystery genre.”

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