Death Claims by Joseph HansenDeath Claims by Joseph Hansen
Narrator: Keith Szarabajka
Series: Dave Brandstetter #2
Published by Blackstone Audio on June 4, 2019 (first published 1973)
Source: Audible Plus
Genres: Mystery
Length: 5 hrs 32 ins
Format: Audiobook
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Death Claims is the second of Joseph Hansen's acclaimed mysteries featuring ruggedly masculine Dave Brandstetter, a gay insurance investigator. When John Oats's body is found washed up on a beach, his young lover April Stannard is sure it was no accident. Brandstetter agrees: Oats's college-age son, the beneficiary of the life insurance policy, has gone missing.

Death claims insurance investigator Dave Brandstetter is suspicious of the apparent drowning of John Oats. The superb swimmer was found washed up on a beach along the Californian coastline. John recently called the insurance copy to change the beneficiary on his policy, but the paperwork hadn’t been completed yet. Does his death have anything to do with John’s recent desire to change the beneficiary on his life insurance policy? And now the beneficiary, Oats’s son Peter, has disappeared. Dave takes nothing at face value. He is intent on discovering the truth and doesn’t mind hurting people along the way.

The case is, of course, much more complicated than it seems. It turns out John and almost everyone in his sphere were keeping secrets and Dave is good at finding connections, at understanding what people are hiding.

We also get to know about Dave’s life away from the case. He and his lover, Doug, who he met in the first book of the series, have hit a rocky point. Their relationship felt real, both in how they fit together and how they disappointed each other.

Death Claims is well-plotted and has characters you can care about. The motives feel true and sad. The solution comes together rather quickly but at the same time makes total sense. I just missed the clues.

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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