Published fifty years ago, a time when being gay was illegal in 49 out of 50 states, Joseph Hansen’s first Dave Brandstetter novel shattered stereotypes and redefined the Private Eye novel as we know it.
Five decades after its original landmark publication, Joseph Hansen’s Fadeout is as fresh and important as ever. Preceded only by a handful of gay protagonists in crime fiction, Hansen’s Dave Brandstetter, a ruggedly handsome World War II vet with a quick wit, faultless moral compass, and endless confidence, shattered stereotypes and won over a large reading audience, a feat previously considered impossible for queer fiction.
Set in the mid-1960s, Fadeout centers on the disappearance of a southern California radio personality named Fox Olson. A failed writer, Olson finally found success as a beloved folksinger and wholesome country raconteur with a growing national audience. The community is therefore shocked when Olson’s car is found wrecked, having been driven off a bridge and swept away in a fast-moving arroyo on a rainy night. A life insurance claim is filed by Olson’s widow and the company holding the policy sends their best man to investigate. The problem is that Olson’s body was never found. Not in the car. Not further down the river. As Dave Brandstetter begins his investigation he quickly finds that none of it adds up.