Fadeout by Joseph HansenFadeout by Joseph Hansen
Narrator: Keith Szarabajka
Series: Dave Brandstetter #1
Published by Blackstone Audio on May 14, 2019 (first published 1970)
Source: Audible Plus
Genres: Mystery
Length: 5 hrs 7 mins
Pages: 187
Format: Audiobook
Purchase at Bookshop.org or Audible
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Fadeout is the first of Joseph Hansen's twelve classic mysteries featuring rugged Dave Brandstetter, an insurance investigator who is contentedly gay. When entertainer Fox Olson's car plunges off a bridge in a storm, a death claim is filed, but where is Olson's body? As Brandstetter questions family, fans, and detractors, he grows certain Olson is still alive and that Dave must find him before the would-be killer does. Suspenseful and wry, shrewd and deeply felt, Fadeout remains as fresh today as when it startled readers more than thirty years ago.

Dave Brandstetter, insurance investigator, is looking into the death of local radio star and mayoral candidate Fox Olson, who crashed his car through a bridge railing on a rainy night. Fox’s body has not yet been found, and Brandstetter finds more than one reason to be suspicious. As Dave spends time interviewing the Olson family members and gathering evidence, he comes to the conclusion that Fox is still alive.

Brandstetter is a tough, smart detective. He’s openly gay and mourning the loss of his long-time partner to cancer. He’s a good character, with strengths and flaws.

The story moves along quickly and we get several unlikeable suspects and a bit of local politics. The writing is spare but the author does a fabulous job at painting pictures and describing characters with few words.

Fadeout is not a fun book with its underlying sadness, but it is engrossing. I will probably listen to more in the series. It doesn’t hurt that they’re included in Audible Prime. The narrator gives the story a gritty feel that matches the tone.

About Joseph Hansen

Joseph Hansen (1923–2004) was an American author of mysteries. The son of a South Dakota shoemaker, he moved to a California citrus farm with his family in 1936. He began publishing poetry in the New Yorker in the 1950s, and joined the editorial teams of gay magazines ONE and Tangents in the 1960s. Using the pseudonyms Rose Brock and James Colton, Hansen published five novels and a collection of short stories before the appearance of Fadeout (1970), the first novel published under his own name.

The book introduced street-smart insurance investigator Dave Brandstetter, a complex, openly gay hero who grew and changed over the series’s twelve novels. By the time Hansen concluded the series with A Country of Old Men (1990), Brandstetter was older, melancholy, and ready for retirement. The 1992 recipient of the Private Eye Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Hansen published several more novels before his death in 2004.

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