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Death Claims (Dave Brandstetter #2)

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  301 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Death Claims is the second of Joseph Hansen's acclaimed mysteries featuring ruggedly masculine Dave Brandstetter, a gay insurance investigator. When John Oats's body is found washed up on a beach, his young lover April Stannard is sure it was no accident. Brandstetter agrees: Oats's college-age son, the beneficiary of the life insurance, has gone missing.
Paperback, 166 pages
Published December 1st 1980 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston (first published 1973)
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4,8 stars!

The mystery in Death Claims was even better than in the first book.
John Oats's body was found washed up on a beach. It was an accident, decided the police. It was murder, believed Dave Brandstetter, a insurance investigator. But who did it?
"A loving son, a not-so-loving wife, a pretty young mistress, a business partner or none of the above."

You'll have also a bit more romance comparing to the first book.

Some thoughts, not exactly about this book, but that were triggered by it:
Rosa, really

Aaaand...yet another Dave Brandstetter book I have no idea how to describe.

I could paraphrase Alexis Hall’s blog post and tell you that this is not the story of a gay man; it is the story of a man who happens to be gay.

I could tell you about the mystery, but I really don't give a shit about it. I love a good mystery and this is a great one, but that part is unimportant, what is important is one man finding his way in the world. Asking questions, hoping to find answers, finding some but creating

Hansen’s word painting, put me into the setting with visuals and atmosphere complementing the feelings invoked by the characters. Sadness, loss, loneliness, tragedy and strength permeate the whole story. With simple words Hansen is able to create a whole cache of full blooded characters.

The plotting of the story reminded me of one of Christie’s Poirot cases when he goes through all the characters, one by one and posits that they are the murderer and we visit a while with that character and work
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4* of five

The Book Description: "My name is David Brandstetter. I'm a claims investigator for the Medallion Life Insurance Company." He handed her a card. She didn't glance at it. "I'm looking for Peter Oats," he said.

"He's not here. I wish he were. Maybe you can help me. The police don't seem to care."

She was April Stannard. Her lover, Peter's father, had died. April believed he'd been murdered.

Dave Brandstetter's investigation takes him through the rare-book world, to backstage at a co
That great man of "gay" crime fiction, Joseph Hansen, returns with the second instalment of his twelve book Dave Brandstetter, Insurance Investigator series, Death Claims sees Dave in the aftermath of his previous case, dealing with the relationship he fell in to with the spitting image of his dead lover whilst at the same time investigating a new suspicious death of a well insured client.

Objectively Death Claims is the perfectly written crime novel; Hansen weaves a magical web of clues and susp
James Thane
This is the second of Joseph Hansen's novels featuring insurance investigator David Brandstetter. A policy holder named John Oats has drowned in the Pacific and the body has washed up on shore. The police and the coroner are happy to accept a verdict of suicide, but Dave is not.

Neither is Oat's lover, April Stannard. In interviewing Stannard, Dave discovers that Oat's young son Peter has gone missing. Peter was the beneficiary of his father's life insurance policy, but when he drowned, John Oats
Bill  Kerwin

Insurance investigator Dave Brandstetter has his doubts about the death of John Oats. True, the retired book dealer was dying of cancer, but good swimmers don't usually drown themselves close to the shore. And then of course there's the fact that Oats changed his beneficiary just days before . . .

I didn't find the plot as compelling as Brandstetter's first recorded case ("Fadeout"), but I am still intrigued by his character. He's a thoroughly hardboiled detective who is also a practicing homose
The Dave Brandstetter mysteries read like super authentic period pieces. That's of course because they are in fact aged-contemporary stories, giving a beautifully preserved rendition of the era, the setting and the social attitudes towards homosexuals. It's like a literary museum.

I love Hansen's portrayal of Southern California in the early seventies. Not just Los Angeles, but all the remote surrounding areas, many of which were undeveloped. I'm not sure if Arena Blanca is a real place, I've ne
Reading Hansen is like a lesson in superb writing.
“I told myself all that's wrong with us is misunderstanding. That's not good, but it's not the worst. The worst is not having anyone to have a misunderstanding with. It's not ecstasy. But it beats nothing. So —I came home.”

I marvel at Hansen's writing. But in this instalment I felt more connected to Dave Brandstetter's personal life rather than the mystery itself. And craved much more of it. In those rare moments when we get to see a glimpse into the heart of our PI, I empathised with his every
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: "My name is David Brandstetter. I'm a claims investigator for the Medallion Life Insurance Company." He handed her a card. She didn't glance at it. "I'm looking for Peter Oats," he said.

"He's not here. I wish he were. Maybe you can help me. The police don't seem to care."

She was April Stannard. Her lover, Peter's father, had died. April believed he'd been murdered.

Dave Brandstetter's investigation takes him through the rare-book world, to backstage at a comm
3.5 stars

The second book of Joseph Hansen's "Dave Brandstetter" series brings Dave, claims investigator for Medallion Life Insurance Company, looking for a missing beneficiary. While I did enjoy it, but I didn't love it as much as I did book 1. There was a couple of things that made me feel that way ...

Peter Oats, the missing boy, was 'missing' for almost 2/3 of the book. When he did appear, it wasn't because Dave found him, but because he was coming to the police station himself. In that sense,
4.5 stars

I got accustomed to Hansen's style so the second book was easier for me to read. His characterization is precise as a scalpel - you can at times hear Dave's sarcasm dripping from the pages. I also like Dave's two sides - one, relentless investigator and two, man willing to compromise in order to make his relationship work. Great stuff.
Edina Rose
Second book in Brandsetter series, it's even better than the first. The mystery is better and there is actually a romance that ends well... for now - it's a series after all.

The mystery
A man is killed just after contacting his life insurance to change his beneficiary, but before he was abled to return the form send by the insurance company. Insurance detective Dave Brandsetter has to make sure that he has not been killed by the current beneficiary, his son. But when he comes to interrogate the s
I've read one heck of a lot of murder mysteries, and I'm pretty good at spotting clues, guessing bad guys, and playing all the other games that go along with the genre. With this, the second of Hansen's Brandstetter series, written in the early 70's, I was successfully fooled. I completely missed a couple of important clues, and six pages from the end I had no idea who the bad guy was. Four paragraphs from the end I had no idea how Brandstetter was going to effect the capture. Yet it turned out ...more
In this second Dave Brandstetter mystery we find the insurance claims man investigating the drowning of John Oats. John Oats had been burned severely in an accident that disfigured him and left him depressed and in pain. The man also had changed his beneficiary to his life insurance policy from his ex wife, to his son who is now missing. The police and coroner have said that John's death was probably suicide, Dave thinks that there is more to it.Also, on the personal side, Dave has been in a thr ...more
Brandsetter walks a twisted road to a somewhat redemption in this tale of murder, addiction, filial and unrequited love.

I liked the slow pace and then acceleration of the plot ending in a abrupt stop. It didn't tie all loose ends and let the reader finish the story. I liked that David didn't give up on Doug even if it would have been the easy way out for the writer.

Really looking forward the next title.
Another captivating book in one of my favourite detective novel series. The mystery part kept me guessing till the end, but it was the portrayal of Dave's relationship with Doug, and the way they both struggle with coping with ghosts from their respective past, which inevitably affect their commitment to each other, what intrigued me the most.
J.R. Tomlin
I'm not quite sure why, but this has always been one of my favorites of the Brandstetter series. I admit that's not a great analysis. Maybe it's because Brandstetter I always found his relationship with Cecil a bit too perfect and liked it when they broke up for a while. I liked Brandstetter being mad at him.
Loved Joseph Hansen's Protag, David Brandstetter. He was super cool and insightful. The story was great and the ending satisfying.
I'm absolutely tickled about Brandstetter's final line! And I was truly guessing right up to the villain's monologue. Quite a ride.
I can't understand why Hansen wasn't more known during his lifetime, or now. He is a real master.
Enjoying this series. The mystery was good and I like the characters/atmosphere/writing.
Minor spoiler here, not about the identity of the murderer, but about a subplot involving Doug.

The only thing that turns me off Joseph Hansen's writing is the thickness of the description. It's vivid, but it's too vivid: a paragraph worth of setting the scene every single time, adjective piled on adjective. They're good descriptions, and I guess it's all a part of his style, but sometimes it gets in the way.

He is good with characters, though. For all the similarities to Chandler, I like the way
Another great Brandstetter novel, well crafted, stylish, and I didn't guess the murderer. I love the setting and feel of these novels, the little descriptions of trees and birds and stonework, too hot sun or rainstorms, it really captures the era and adds to the general mood of tired melancholy, 70's dejection. This was swamped in grief, everyone is damaged and holding onto ghosts, there are little rays of hope, but overall this is a novel filled with the sads. Great though, obvs.
Lil' Grogan
It's funny reading this after reading the rest of the series but one. It reminded me how much I want to smack Hansen up the side of the head for his damn formula. Then, pull out the single malt and talk to him about Dave.

On this book: actually, Hansen doesn't go off on random diversions here, though he threatens to a couple of times. These books are really about Dave and Hansen's social commentary (which comes on stronger later in the series). I love Dave. Dave grumpy, Dave happy, Dave snarky.
The typos in the ebook editions (obviously introduced when the publisher scanned a paper copy and then didn't proofread the text well enough) are really distracting.
Deanna Against Censorship
Joseph Hansen wrote interesting stories with superb skill. His characters rise slowly from the pages and surround the reader dragging one into the world he has created. His descriptive phrases are almost poetry. This book is no exception. It is mystery and a tale of human emotions. Everyone says the others are charmers and nice, but someone not so nice killed. A complex mystery unfolds for Dave Brandstetter, the no nonsense detective, to solve while trying to solve his own personal relationship. ...more
Hmm. I think I need a break from this series. They're strong mysteries but suffer a bit from stereotypes. And no one is ever really happy in them.
Raffaele Castagno
Un intreccio coinvolgente, una scrittura elegante, un eccellente scrittore.
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Q&A with Josh...: Brandstetter Challenge: #2 Death Claims 26 48 Dec 02, 2013 12:04PM  
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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)
  • Troublemaker (Dave Brandstetter, #3)
  • The Man Everybody Was Afraid Of (Dave Brandstetter, #4)
  • 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)
Fadeout (Dave Brandstetter, #1) Troublemaker (Dave Brandstetter, #3) Skinflick (Dave Brandstetter, #5) The Man Everybody Was Afraid Of (Dave Brandstetter, #4) Gravedigger (Dave Brandstetter, #6)

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“I told myself all that's wrong with us is misunderstanding. That's not good, but it's not the worst. The worst is not having anyone to have a misunderstanding with.” 2 likes
“You're a little short on self-awareness. People who are always exacting right behaviour from other people tend to be that way.” 2 likes
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