Joseph Hansen, Dave Brandstetter author

The December 7th New York Times had an obituary for the mystery writer Joseph Hansen, who died on November 24, at the age of 81.

Hansen’s legendary achievement was his series of mystery novels with the leading character Dave Brandstetter, the first gay sleuth in literature. The first of the mysteries Fadeout appeared in 1970, and the series continued through 1991, ending with A Country of Old Men. One of the interesting features of the books was how Brandstetter ages as time progresses, and his drinking and lavish Italian food (the Italian restaurant where he hangs out is featured through all the books) have finally caught up with him. In the meantime, Brandstetter has become famous and rich, but has also lost many friends to AIDS.

I’ll miss having more these books; I used to wait each year or so for the next installment. I’ll hold on to the whole series in my own library. They are worth re-reading from time to time.