Monday, August 12, 2013

Another Excellent Dave Brandstetter Story

This is another very good book in Joseph Hansen's Dave Brandstetter series. The series has now moved into the mid-1980s, and the AIDS epidemic is gathering momentum, a matter of obvious concern to Dave who is gay.

Dave returns home from a business trip to find a man who has been knifed to death in his courtyard. Dave's business card is lying at the man's feet, but Dave does not recognize him. The man appears to be the latest victim of a killer who has been targeting young gay men who are dying of AIDS.

This particular victim turns out to be a developer named Drew Dodge. Since Dodge died at his doorstep, Dave feels a responsibility to investigate the crime. Dave's personal life is also in turmoil, given that his lover, Cecil, is now involved with someone else. Dave is feeling adrift and tired and is thinking it's about time to hang up his license.

The investigation takes Dave across the larger Los Angeles metropolitan area, into neighborhoods good and bad. It quickly becomes apparent that someone, most likely the killer, does not want Dave pursuing the investigation, and Dave soon finds himself at risk. That will not deter him, of course, and he will doggedly pursue the case, no matter the personal cost.

Hansen never disappoints and certainly does not do so here. He's excellent at plotting a story, setting a scene and developing in the reader a real sense of the humanity of all the characters. This is a particularly gripping book because of the fact that the scourge of AIDS has now been introduced into American life and into the lives of Dave and his friends. As if life wasn't hard enough for gay people like Dave, it's about to get even more difficult and emotionally devastating. In a book that's allegedly about a series of horrific crimes, Hansen captures this situation expertly and with deep feeling.

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