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The Man Everybody Was Afraid of (Dave Brandstetter, Book 4)
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The Man Everybody Was Afraid of (Dave Brandstetter #4)

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  231 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Police Chief Ben Orton had a gift for making enemies. When his body was found, head smashed in, the people of his seaside domain were shocked--less because of the gruesome murder than because someone had finally dared to cross Ben Orton.
Paperback, 181 pages
Published December 1st 1981 by Holt McDougal (first published 1978)
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James Thane
When a small-town police chief named Ben Orton is killed, the P.D., which includes his son Jerry, wastes no time at all actually investigating the crime. Instead, they immediately arrest a gay rights activist who had threatened to kill the chief and whose tote bag was found next to the body. Case closed.

Not for insurance investigator Dave Brandstetter, though. His company, Medallion insurance, is on the hook for $75,000, a fair amount of money in 1978, when this book was first published. Dave ne
Rosa, really

BR with la bella Sofia.

And look, I have a copy of the actual book!

 photo 20150202_125424_zpsxvta0dk8.jpg

Nick is terribly excited. Terribly.

Jul 04, 2014 Sofia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This one had Dave chasing his tail and me chasing after him. Everyone had a motive for murder, everyone had possibility and than WHAM. All done in Hansen's usual impeccable succinct style as always.

On the personal side Dave is still chasing, not so sure where he is. His relationship with his father keeps unfolding bit by bit. Not so easy to have it cut and dried. label something and put it in a box. People are complicated.

BR with Rosa
Bill  Kerwin
Oct 31, 2009 Bill Kerwin rated it liked it

The fourth adventure of death-claims investigator David Brandstetter. Sheriff Orton has been bludgeoned to death, but is the outrageous gay activist whose knapsack was found near the body really responsible? There are many other suspects, including the adulterous sheriff's wife, the old-school homosexual rights advocate, and the young black man the sheriff framed in a marijuana bust when he found the young man was dating his daughter. Throw in some pre-Columbian artifacts of mysterious origin, a
Dec 27, 2016 Nikki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime, lgbt
This is one of those mysteries where you can’t root for the mystery to be solved for the sake of the victim, a man who was a bully, a racist, and thoroughly unpleasant in almost all his interactions. Instead, the characters surrounding them need to get their hooks into you, and in this case that didn’t really work for me. Much more central was Dave’s sadness over his father’s illness, his disconnection with Doug, and the connection he does form with Cecil — one that rather surprises a reader fam ...more
Kaje Harper
Dec 25, 2016 Kaje Harper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: m-m, mystery, bittersweet
It's been a while since I read the first of these mysteries but they stand alone well, although series purists will want to follow the ongoing threads of Dave Brandstetter's life that parallel the mystery. The original publication date was 1978, and the story is a reflection of the times. The civil rights era is winding down from peak intensity but racial inequality threads through the story; HIV has not yet raised its evil head; gay rights are a breath of hope, a decade after Stonewall, but far ...more
Mar 01, 2014 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
Hansen's Brandstetter mysteries are highly enjoyable, easy to read, complex tales of social issues in the face of rich WASP male dominated Californian society. Much like Mosley's Rawlins series these books are about crimes committed against minorities by the WASP types as well as by the minorities in reaction to their treatment by those despicable rich white dudes who have made the world such a shit place to live for everyone else. That is the road Hansen has trodden almost by rote in his first ...more

4,4 stars!

As always, a superb writing and a good done mystery.
Edina Rose
Feb 10, 2014 Edina Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

So far, probably one of my fav of the series. The mystery is good, and Dave's personal life is difficult. His dad died, and his relationship with Doug is not working. Doug is not exactly happy with him and he.. strays, repetitively. At the beginning, Doug hid it, he lied, he kept the pretence. But in this book, he does not bother anymore. Dave meets a young journalist intern, a black guy called Cecil, who is 30 years younger. They have great chemistry but it seems Dave is just going to
Aug 11, 2013 Sylvia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bad people and sad people. The melancholic mood reminds me a bit of the Scandinavian mysteries I used to read.
Ronald Wilcox
I usually enjoy the Brandstetter series a lot but this one seemed fairly muddled and hard to follow as compared to previous ones in the series. Police Chief Ben Orton is found dead. A bag is found near his body that belongs to a gay activist and Orton was definitely not a friend to the LGBT community. It seems like an open and shut case but Dave suspects the family may actually be involved in the death so investigates to see if they are able to receive his life insurance policy benefits. It seem ...more
A.L. Lester
Feb 01, 2017 A.L. Lester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am reading my way through the series and really enjoying them. Well crafted stories and characters that resonate deep inside the reader. My favourite, understated piece of character description is that Dave needs glasses to read. He folds his glasses out and folds them away after reading. In this episode of the series, his elderly father is close to death and that informs the whole mystery. It's beautiful.
Sep 22, 2016 Roberta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction, gay
I actually read this book when it came out in paperback in 1988, thought it was very well written and enjoyed reading it. I also appreciated that Dave was not a caricature but was simply and matter of factly gay.

I am reviewing this book now because Goodreads ticked me off by recommending it in my sidebar because I just finished (well, haven't finished actually because I think it sort of sucks) the book Posted To Death. Both books would be classified as mysteries but in the way that Janet Evanov
Tex Reader
4.0 of 5 stars – Another Engaging Story About An Investigator I Love.

I love gay mysteries and romances, and this has been one of the best series combining both, and in the process rightfully became for Joseph Hansen a classic in gay literature. This fourth in the series was almost as good as its excellent predecessors and continued to build the story.

I liked this for the same reasons I liked each in the series. First off, for those interested, it worked well as a standalone, with its own self-co
Molli B.
This one got a tiny bit too complicated (for me), I think. There were a lot of people, and I sorta lost track of who everyone was. I don't blame the book, though, or Hansen—part of what I love about these books is that the plots are twisty and things aren't obvious. The clues were all there, again, but I just had a harder time putting them together. But it could have been that I was somewhat lacking in good sleep—I'll blame it on that :)

Man, I love Dave's tenacity. And I love that he's so forthr
Oct 20, 2010 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime, lgbt
Just once, I'd like to see Brandstetter tackling a case involving straight people. In a way, it's great that there are gay people of all stripes in these books. In another way, it's not like a gay detective has to work with gay people all the time. Not all his cases are going to be about gay people, unless he deliberately only represents gay people, which would be a whole different story.

Still, I love how matter-of-factly gay Dave is, how it's just a part of him. I like the fact that he has a fa
Oct 07, 2013 Neet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth in the Dave Brandstetter murder mysteries and in this one we find our intrepid death claims investigator investigating the death of bigoted chief of police Ben Orton's who head was smashed in with a flowerpotThe person who is arrested for the deed is a young gay activist, but evidence is flimsy at best and the officials don't seem to care. Dave is also having personal problems, his father Carl is on his deathbed in the hospital, and Dave who loves his father seems to be scared ...more
All in shades of grey. Almost 4 stars. The plot is important but the conclusion of the tale isn't. There are bad guys, worst bad guys and guys that are bad because of their jobs or their moral compass.

Brandsetter's live is in limbo: his father is slowly dying, his relationship with Doug has ended and both are in the process of moving on but still clinging to what might have been if only.

The case of the murderer Police Chief only accentuate the holes in Dave's life. No sleep, no love, soon no f
Deanna Against Censorship
Another excellent mystery from Joseph Hansen. His writing style is beautiful. He paints pictures in the reader's mind without being verbose.

I like Dave. He is a puzzle solver. I wish he was more successful in his love life. I do not like Doug. Maybe later books will change that feeling but for now I want a real love for Dave. No matter what is happening or not happening in Dave's personal life, it does not interfere with the case. The mystery is primary in a Hansen book. Enjoyable read with int
I get a little frustrated with Dave always putting his own life on the back burner to solve a murder. Living people need attention too. But I guess he wouldn't be Dave if he didn't do that. It's one trait I'd like to see him grow out of as the series progresses though. The mystery was your average connect-the-dots. Not much suspense or sense of urgency to it. The crooked-cops-just-for-the-hell-of-it were angering, given the current events in Ferguson.
Angel Pedroza
Jul 03, 2015 Angel Pedroza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this book when it was first published in the 70's as a young gay 20 something. This author and this series meant a great deal to me because it gave me a positive gay hero in popular culture. I am currently rereading these books and they have held up to popular tastes and sensibilities. This book is great.
Aug 30, 2013 Min rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, 2014
Poor Dave. I feel as though he is put through the wringer on this one. I felt a little confused throughout this story, which may have just been me or may have been due his lack of sleep and, therefore, his somewhat circuitous investigation. I'm glad there's another one because I'm curious to see what happens with Dave's personal life next.
Feb 16, 2014 Drianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay, m-m, mystery
Good mystery. Found the look at 1970s gay rights activism very interesting. I wish all of these were longer (and had more conclusion; they end so abruptly).
Jan 27, 2016 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
another great Dave Brandstetter book!
Lil' Grogan
Feb 10, 2011 Lil' Grogan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2-5, gay
The portrayal of gay characters and Dave, outside of his job are what drew my interest. However, the mystery itself..maybe because of the descriptive style, lost my interest.
Benjamin rated it it was amazing
Oct 28, 2014
Susan rated it really liked it
Jul 20, 2012
Stephen Mar
Stephen Mar rated it it was amazing
Mar 13, 2013
Aussie54 rated it it was amazing
Apr 20, 2012
Jay Moseley
Jay Moseley rated it really liked it
Aug 22, 2010
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Joseph Hansen (1923–2004) was an American author of mysteries. The son of a South Dakota shoemaker, he moved to a California citrus farm with his family in 1936. He began publishing poetry in the New Yorker in the 1950s, and joined the editorial teams of gay magazines ONE and Tangents in the 1960s. Using the pseudonyms Rose Brock and James Colton, Hansen published five novels and a collection of s ...more
More about Joseph Hansen...

Other Books in the Series

Dave Brandstetter (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Fadeout (Dave Brandstetter, #1)
  • Death Claims (Dave Brandstetter, #2)
  • Troublemaker (Dave Brandstetter, #3)
  • Skinflick (Dave Brandstetter, #5)
  • Gravedigger (Dave Brandstetter, #6)
  • Nightwork (Dave Brandstetter, #7)
  • The Little Dog Laughed (Dave Brandstetter, #8)
  • Early Graves (Dave Brandstetter, #9)
  • Obedience (Dave Brandstetter, #10)
  • The Boy Who Was Buried this Morning (Dave Brandstetter, #11)

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“Five, six, seven eight-," Cecil grinned.
"-Gay is just as good as straight," Dave said.”
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