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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

Fadeout - Joseph Hansen Rating: 4* of fiveThe Book Description: Fadeout is the first of Joseph Hansen's twelve classic mysteries featuring rugged Dave Brandstetter, an insurance investigator who is contentedly gay. When entertainer Fox Olson's car plunges off a bridge in a storm, a death claim is filed, but where is Olson's body? As Brandstetter questions family, fans, and detractors, he grows certain Olson is still alive and that Dave must find him before the would-be killer does. Suspenseful and wry, shrewd and deeply felt, Fadeout remains as fresh today as when it startled readers more than forty years ago.My Review: I've recently completed a re-read of all twelve Brandstetter books. Why the heck not, it beats writing a new ending for my own book, right? Especially a book I thought of as done, but...oh heck, never mind. My crazy mother bought this book when it came out because she liked mysteries. It was a little too hard-boiled for her, but she got the next three or so because she just loved the writing. When I was about 12, she handed this one to me when I expressed my joy at reading The Maltese Falcon with the offhand remark, "oh well then, this one'll slay ya."Wow. A gay OLD man! People like me before there was a me!!That really mattered to me, since there was such a lack of public and accepted gayness in the Austin of 1971. I remember knowing there were gay guys at the University because the sister who went there complained about it. I remember knowing the term "gay" from a friend of that same sister's who used it, and explained it when asked. The sister in question said, "oh geez he means queers, Rich, the faggots who mince around yelling about rights."My mother is not the only judgmental and nasty woman I grew up with.Well, that sort of interchange made Brandstetter all the more pleasurable for me to read! I loved him for being himself, despite his own father's disapproval, and for being a widower...a relationship ends before the series begins, and it was a revelation to me that such a relationship was *possible*. What a wonderful man Joseph Hansen must be, I thought, to create this unicorn of a character.As the mystery unfolds, Dave Brandstetter does too. He learns so much about the victim, and so much of that resonates with him...Dave just can't stop the grieving he's going through for his dead love from connecting him to the people in his life, even as he makes the honorable choice not to take comfort that's offered to him by someone even more vulnerable than he is.What I know now as someone older than the old man I thought Dave was in the book...Hansen knew what he was talking about when the subject is grief and grieving. Dave's pain made me weep as a kid. It does so much more to the grief-veteran old-man me...makes me sit, shocked, as I'm taken in to this most personal and intimate of places. Sex is less intimate than a person sharing this passage with you. As a re-reader, I had my initial youthful response in mind. Then the reality hit, and the impact was profound.When there's writing like this, storytelling like this, out there in the world, why are so many people gobbling down so much crap?