Review: Gravedigger by Joseph Hansen

Gravedigger is the sixth book in the David Brandstetter series. The stories are set in southern California and is distinctive because the main character is a gay investigator and is considered to be the first openly gay detective of the P.I. genre. This book was nominated for the 1983 Shamus Award for Best PI Novel.

You can find out a lot more about Joseph Hansen and the Dave Brandsetter series by visiting the LA Times Review of Books where an in-depth article in which the author is remembered.

Book Details

Title: Gravedigger
Author: Joseph Hansen
Pages: 183
Published Date: 1982
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Series Details: 6th book in the Dave Brandstetter series

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Publisher's Synopsis

Hardened death-claim investigator Dave Brandstetter searches for Charles Westover, who, although desperate for money, disappeared before collecting an insurance claim on the death of his runaway daughter who may have been murdered by a desert guru.

From the Dustjacket

Charles Westover, a disbarred lawyer, alleges that his runaway teenage daughter has been murdered and he files an insurance claim. And then he disappears, leaving ace claims investigator Dave Brandstetter to sort through the pieces of the puzzle. Young women have been murdered by the crazed guru of a bizarre sex cult - is that what happened to Serenity Westover? Serenity’s mother, now divorced from her husband, doesn’t think so, but she tries to hide a painful secret about her marriage that proves to be an important clue to solving the case.

Dave’s investigation, set against vivid California backgrounds of expensive seaside suburbs and snowy mountain camps, shacky desert towns and wilderness canyons, takes him on a quest of mounting tension and ultimate horror. Never has he needed his renowned shrewdness and compassion more. And never has he faced so close a brush with grisly death.

Other Reviews

Gay Book Reviews

A big part of loving somebody requires you to give them your trust. Trust that they will return your love and trust that they will honor it by respecting you. And because love and trust are so interconnected, it is often difficult when that trust is betrayed, as it often seems to diminish the love that was given. This issue of trust both given and lost flows throughout Joseph Hansen’s 6th Brandstetter mystery Gravediggers. Trust is given to Dave’s new love and at the same time seemingly lost in another relationship in Dave’s life. - Read Full Review

Kirkus Reviews

Dave Brandstetter, death-claims investigator, is on the case when Banner Insurance receives a strange claim: Charles Westover wants to collect on the death of his daughter Serenity who, according to Westover, is one of the dead, unidentifiable bodies found in the desert, the victims of cult-leader "Akriel" (now on the run). But things seem fishy… - Read Full Review

GoodReads Reviews

At the time of writing there are 34 reviews posted to the GoodReads website for an average of 4/5 stars. You can read these reviews by visiting the GoodReads website.

Other Shamus Best Hardcover PI Novel nominees - 1983