EARLY GRAVES by Joseph Hansen


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Almost inevitably, Dave Brandstetter--mystery fiction's most serious, three-dimensional gay detective (Fadeout, etc.)--now faces a murder-puzzle that centers on AIDS (which has already figured, usually tastelessly, in a few mystery-novels and stories). Unfortunately, however, after some powerful opening chapters, this turns out to be one of Hansen's weaker efforts. The sleuthing begins when Dave finds a corpse virtually on his doorstep: the dead man turns out to be Drew Dodge, a handsome young family man, a slickly ambitious real-estate developer with money problems, a secret sex-life. . .and AIDS. And at first it seems that Dodge is the sixth victim of a semi-random killer obsessed with AIDS, a psycho who is now stalking Dave (who's AIDS-free) himself. But about halfway through, when the serial killer is caught anti-confesses (over-theatrically), the Dodge murder becomes a case apart. So Dave starts to concentrate on the dead developer's home life, business connections, and distant past--as the plot churns up an overfamiliar mix of blackmail, greed, and Oedipal vengeance. Leanly atmospheric and starkly stylish as ever--but under-par Brandstetter overall, with little help from the continuing soap-opera (Dave's lover Cecil is now unwisely, altruistically, married) on Dave's home-front.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 1987
Publisher: Mysterious Press--dist. by Ballantine