And then of course there's the fact that Oats changed the beneficiary of his life insurance policy just days before his death.
It was murder, believed Dave Brandstetter, a insurance investigator. Some thoughts, not exactly about this book, but that were triggered by it: While reading Joseph Hansen I can feel how my IQ is growing. Joseph Hansen's writing is the best brain food. (view spoiler) It is the sad example when the truth is not the best solution. I understand WHY Dave didn't believe that John Oats being a very good swimmer had drowned, WHY he had doubts that it was an accident. But his investigations caused the death of Wade Cochran, the man Peter Oats was in love with.
Aaaand...yet another Dave Brandstetter book I have no idea how to describe. I love a good mystery and this is a great one, but that part is unimportant, what is important is one man finding his way in the world. I could tell you about the romance, but I really don't give a shit about that either. I'm interested in seeing how Dave's relationship develops; is it based on mutual loneliness or love? I could talk about Dave Brandstetter. I could also tell you that in Hansens books you will not find a large flashing sign that shouts, Life lessons learned here! Usually I try and talk my fellow romance readers into reading books a little outside their scope (I wanna share the joy).
Dave Brandstetter's investigation takes him through the rare-book world, to backstage at a community theatre, to the home of a world-famous television performer. Along the way, Dave soon comes to agree with April. My Review: Small-town California has a lot of atmosphere, according to Hansen; I don't remember it that way, but I was young and miserable, so I'll go with the man who found there something that led to this description of an old mill made into a theater: The waterwheel was twice a mans height, wider than a mans two stretched arms. It's with this book, second in the series, that Hansen's chops come fully into play. April, the bereaved, is Rita Hayworth in my mind; Oates, the dead guy, looks like John Garfield; Peter, the son and heir, is Cabaret-era Michael York; and so on and so on.
Dave goes through all these characters, stubbornly, like a mastiff with a bone, until he finds the real murderer. This is the kind of book which gives you people, who you can talk about for ages , which I end up doing with my buddy reader Rosa. We can talk a hell out a character and Hansen gives us the material to do this with.
That great man of "gay" crime fiction, Joseph Hansen, returns with the second instalment of his twelve book Dave Brandstetter, Insurance Investigator series, Death Claims sees Dave in the aftermath of his previous case, dealing with the relationship he fell in to with the spitting image of his dead lover whilst at the same time investigating a new suspicious death of a well insured client.
In interviewing Stannard, Dave discovers that Oat's young son Peter has gone missing. Peter was the beneficiary of his father's life insurance policy, but when he drowned, John Oats was in the process of changing the beneficiary to April. Hansen was the first crime novelist to write an extended series featuring an openly gay detective and to make his love life a prominent part of the books.
And I still agree with the second one: a particular character doesnt show up for most of the story, and yet I very much cared about how things worked out for him, and about what he tried to do. I love that Dave decides its time he did some work to keep the relationship going, and then he does but also that hes a self-righteous ass about some things, not some paragon of virtue.
And it felt so right...it wasn't just an out of the sleeve twist, it was just there the whole the time but both the reader and the MC didn't notice until we got info from all the characters.
The 1992 recipient of the Private Eye Writers of Americas Lifetime Achievement Award, Hansen published several more novels before his death in 2004.