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Death Claims

(Dave Brandstetter #2)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  480 ratings  ·  62 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 policy, has gone missing.
Paperback, 170 pages
Published November 4th 2004 by University of Wisconsin Press (first published 1973)
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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  480 ratings  ·  62 reviews


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Bill  Kerwin
Sep 01, 2009 rated it liked it

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 the beneficiary of his life insurance policy just days before his death.

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
...more
LenaRibka


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:
...more
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
...more
Richard Derus
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sofia
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it

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
...more
Toby
Jan 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
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
...more
James Thane
Aug 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
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
...more
Josh
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Reading Hansen is like a lesson in superb writing.
Nikki
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime, queer
The first time I read this, I commented on the descriptions — saying that at times they were laid on too thick — and style, and also that Hansen somehow manages to make you care about the characters, even minor ones. I disagree with the first one now, perhaps because I knew going in what Hansen’s style was like: it still reminds me very much of Chandler, even if he doesn’t have quite the same knack for the well-placed word or reference (no “shop-worn Galahad” here). And I still agree with the se ...more
Fenriz Angelo
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
While it took me some time to get into the story due to its old fashioned kind of detached writing style, plus English is not my native language, in the end I enjoyed the book. The mystery sincerely took me by surprise, what a fantastic plot. In the beginning you think it's quite clear where is it going but then there's a plot twist that makes you realize who might actually be the murderer but then right in the 95% you get another plot twist that makes you rethink everything that happened. And i ...more
IslandRiverScribe
John Oats did not die from the third degree burns he suffered when his garage caught fire. He did not die from the stress of the skin graft operations or the physical therapy afterward. He did not die from humiliation when his medical bills cost him his business, his home and every cent of his savings. He did not even die from grief when his wife left him, claiming that since he wasn’t handsome anymore and couldn’t work anymore that he was useless to her.

But John Oats did die from salt water in
...more
KatieMc
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gumshoe, librarybook
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
...more
Daniel
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
that was good. and there's 10 more of these :)

no review for now, way past bedtime.
Richard Derus
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Ami
Oct 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq-fiction
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,
...more
Irina
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, gay, mystery, lena-rec
“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
...more
Lady*M
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: glbt, mystery
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.
Antonella
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I can't understand why Hansen wasn't more known during his lifetime, or now. He is a real master.
Edina Rose
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Neet
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Hoàng Nguyễn
Từ quyển đầu tiên là mình đã thấy nghi rồi, nhưng sang đến quyển này thì mình chắc chắn 100% luôn, văn phong của Hansen chỉ có thể gói gọn trong hai từ: xuất sắc. Vốn từ vựng phong phú, đoạn văn trôi chảy mạch lạc, hội thoại thú vị và thực tế, nhân vật đa chiều,... tất cả đều nhờ cách diễn đạt chỉ tả chứ không kể. Lúc đầu mình cứ nghĩ Dave Brandstetters là một ông trung niên cáu kỉnh gắt gỏng, nhưng sau cái đoạn đến nhà của Doug, chú người yêu mới để dỗ dành chú ấy, chỉ một câu "Gã đóng cửa lại ...more
Jon
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jonathan
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
A great second outing for Dave Brandstetter as he investigates the supposed accidental death, or maybe suicide of John Oats. Having been on the verge of changing his will, insurance investigator Dave has his suspicions that there is a lot more to this death than the coroner and police believe, and he is right! A missing son, a moody ex-wife, a holier-than-thou television actor, guns, drugs, and obscure costume dramas all play their part in this enjoyable noirish crime novel. First published in 1 ...more
Writerlibrarian
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.
Paola
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-as-print
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
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Alexandra
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, mm, suspense
I'm absolutely tickled about Brandstetter's final line! And I was truly guessing right up to the villain's monologue. Quite a ride.
Drianne
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay, m-m, mystery
Enjoying this series. The mystery was good and I like the characters/atmosphere/writing.
Murphy
Loved Joseph Hansen's Protag, David Brandstetter. He was super cool and insightful. The story was great and the ending satisfying.
Kenneth
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A classic hard boiled whodunit. The detective, David Brandstetter, is an insurance claims investigator. The deceased has some strange circumstances surrounding his death, plus the fact that he had recently changed his life insurance beneficiary. Hence the investigation. And one other thing that marks this detective in the annals of hard boiled whodunits is that our detective is gay.
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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

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)
“You're a little short on self-awareness. People who are always exacting right behaviour from other people tend to be that way.” 3 likes
“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
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