Detailed Pedia

Joseph Hansen (writer)

Joseph Hansen
Joseph Hansen.jpg
Born(1923-07-19)July 19, 1923
Aberdeen, South Dakota
DiedNovember 24, 2004(2004-11-24) (aged 81)
Laguna Beach, California
Genrecrime novels
SpouseJane Bancroft

Joseph Hansen (July 19, 1923 – November 24, 2004) was an American crime writer and poet, best known for a series of novels featuring private eye Dave Brandstetter.

Life and works

Hansen was born in 1923 in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Altadena, California.[1]

Although he published almost forty books in a wide variety of genres, Hansen is best remembered for his ground-breaking series of crime novels with Dave Brandstetter, an openly gay insurance investigator who still embodied the tough, no-nonsense personality of the classic hardboiled private investigator protagonist.[2] His first adventure, Fadeout, was published in 1970, and over the next twenty-one years eleven more entries in the series were written: Death Claims (1973), Troublemaker (1975), The Man Everybody Was Afraid Of (1978), Skinflick (1979), Gravedigger (1982), Nightwork (1984), The Little Dog Laughed (1986), Early Graves (1987), Obedience (1988), The Boy Who Was Buried This Morning (1990), and A Country of Old Men (1991). No Exit Books, a British publisher, issued an omnibus volume, The Complete Brandstetter, in 2007 (ISBN 9781842431689).

Hansen also created a second private investigator, Hack Bohannon, a former deputy sheriff who quits the force after fourteen years because of his disapproval of a whitewashed homicide inquiry and runs a horse farm. He collected five novellas in his 1988 book Bohannon's Book (Countryman Press, 1988; paperback reprint, Penguin, 1989 [ISBN 014012053X). A sequel, also collecting five novellas, appeared in 1993 as Bohannon's Country (Penguin, 1993 ISBN 0670849421).

Hansen published his first work, a poem, in The New Yorker, in 1952. He also published poetry in other magazines, briefly sang with a folk-music-group on a California radio-station, and had several part-time jobs in bookstores and magazines.

At the beginning of his career as a novelist, Hansen wrote under the pseudonym James Colton or James Coulton, producing novels such as Strange Marriage and Known Homosexual. He also wrote two gothic novels under the pseudonym Rose Brock.

Hansen was also noted for writing poems, teaching workshops, and hosting a 1960s radio-show called Homosexuality Today. In 1970, he helped to found the first Gay Pride Parade in Hollywood. Hansen disliked the term "gay" and always described himself as "homosexual". In 1985 Hansen published A Smile in His Lifetime, a non-genre novel about a married gay man who achieves fame, divorces his wife, and heads into a string of homosexual relationships both good and bad.

Hansen won the 1992 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, as well as a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men's Mystery from the Lambda Literary Foundation for A Country of Old Men: The Last Dave Brandstetter Mystery (1991). He also won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction for Living Upstairs (1993).

Hansen died from heart failure in 2004 at his home in Laguna Beach, California.[1]


Hansen was married to artist Jane Bancroft, a lesbian, from 1943 to her death in 1994. He said their relationship was that of "a gay man and a woman who happened to love each other." They were married for 51 years. Bancroft was an artist, scholar and teacher. She was born in Boston on February 4, 1917, and grew up in El Paso. She was an animal lover and rescued and sheltered strays. She died on September 9, 1994, following a stroke.[3] Following her death, Joseph Hansen wrote the poem The Dark/The Diary (In memoriam: J.B.H., 1917-1994).[4] The couple had one daughter, Barbara, who later had a sex-change operation and changed his name to Daniel James Hansen.[5][1] According to a friend quoted in an obituary, Hansen also had two long-term male lovers.

Dave Brandstetter mysteries

  • Fadeout (1970)(Harper and Row)
  • Death Claims (1973)(Harper and Row)(1973)(Harrap)
  • Troublemaker (1975)(Harper and Row)
  • The Man Everybody Was Afraid Of (1978)(Holt, Rinehart)(1978)(Faber)
  • Skinflick (1979)(Holt, Rinehart)
  • Gravedigger (1982)(Holt, Rinehart)
  • Nightwork (1984)(Holt, Rinehart)
  • Brandstetter & Others: Five Fictions (1984)(Norton)
  • The Little Dog Laughed (1986)(Holt, Rinehart)
  • Early Graves (1987)(Mysterious Press)
  • Obedience (1988)(Mysterious Press)
  • The Boy Who Was Buried This Morning (1990)(Viking Penguin)
  • A Country of Old Men (1991)(Viking Penguin)
  • The Complete Brandstetter: Twelve Novels (No Exit Press, 2007) ISBN 978-1-84243-168-9


  • One Foot in the Boat (poetry) (1977)(Momentum Press)
  • Backtrack (1982)(Foul Play Press)
  • Pretty Boy Dead (1984)(Gay Sunshine Press)
  • A Smile in his Lifetime (1985)(Plume)
  • Steps Going Down (1985) (Foul Play Press)(1986) (Arlington)
  • Bohannon's Book: Five Mysteries (1988)(Foul Play Press)
  • Bohannon's Country (1993)(Viking Penguin)
  • Living Upstairs (1994)(Plume)
  • Jack of Hearts (1995)(Dutton)
  • Blood, Snow, & Classic Cars: Mystery Stories (2001) (Leyland Publications)

As Rose Brock

  • Longleaf (1974)(Harrap)
  • Tarn House (1975)(Harrap)

As James Colton

  • Strange Matters (1965)(Argyle) (1966)(Paperback Library)
  • The Corrupter and other stories (1968)(Greenleaf)
  • The Outward Side (1971)(Traveller's Companion)(1995)(Hard Candy, Masquerade Books)
  • Todd (1995)(Hard Candy, Masquerade Books)

As James Coulton

  • Gard (1969)(Carré-Verlag, Cologne)(tr. Gert Talis)


  1. ^ a b c Bernstein, Adam (December 7, 2004). "Joseph Hansen; Created Gay Detective (obituary)". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
  2. ^ Newton Baird, "Hansen, Joseph" in Twentieth Century Crime and Mystery Writers, edited by James Vinson and D.L. Kirkpatrick. St. James Press, 1985. ISBN 0-312-82418-1 (pp. 419-421).
  3. ^ "16 Sep 1994, Fri • Other Editions • Page 160". The Los Angeles Times: 160. 1994. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Joseph Hansen Papers: Finding Aid". Online Archive of California. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  5. ^ Connolly, John; Burke, Declan (2016). Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels. Simon and Schuster. p. 244. ISBN 9781476710365. Retrieved 24 January 2018.

External links

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