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.