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Nightwork by Joseph Hansen

Nightwork (1984)

by Joseph Hansen

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I read two works by Joseph Hansen, [book: Gravedigger] and [book:Skinflick] some years ago, but only recently got around to finishing off his Dave Brandsetter trilogy with Nightwork. The three works came together in a set I purchased several years ago. Brandsetter is an insurance investigator in the hard-boiled mold except that he’s gay. In this one, Cecil, his lover, and he are investigating the bombing death of a trucker who was moonlighting, and certain parties are anxious that Dave not discover what it was that the dead trucker was hauling. Hansen has been described as the successor to Ross MacDonald, and I agree. Brandsetter has much the same toughness, compassion, and perseverance that Lew Archer did in the MacDonald novels.

( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Restrained. Hansen is short to the point, never waivers too far from the journey he sets Brandstetter on. Nightwork is a controlled, mastered journey into how Brandsetter goes around to solving cases, reflects on his personal life and how his 'way' of doing things impacts those he loves, especially Cecil, his young lover.

Hansen also offers a very rational view of violence, gun violence especially, street gangs, which when written in the early 80's reflected the times and it's disconcerning to realize not much has changed.

Hansen also brings fully formed and interesting secondary characters that even though they are plot point, they still have a colour, a voice that goes beyond the usual paper thin, interchangeable character created to advance the plot. I'm thinking of the reverend here and his wife, who despite being there essential to advance the plot the reader is offered fully dimensional characters even if they are there for only a few pages. That's how good Hansen is. ( )
  writerlibrarian | Apr 15, 2013 |
Raymond Chandler doesn't give Marlowe much by way of consequences, as far as I can remember. Hansen gives Dave (and his friends and family) plenty. I wasn't sure about the continued inclusion of Cecil, at first: now I am. I care about Cecil, I hurt for him and for Dave because of him. I love Amanda, too. I love how important they are to the plot, that Dave has family and friends and they're impacted by his work -- he's not isolated, and nor is his work.

My only quibble with this book was the wrap-up: we don't get to see if Dave does go up against the polluting companies. Maybe that's one of the things that will continue to the next book, I don't know. But it felt so abrupt -- it wasn't really a resolution, in my opinion. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Quite a bit too hardboiled for my taste but the plot is decent. Some interesting characters, including our protagonist, but I think you have to read the other books in the series to understand what's going on - there are past events referenced that matter to the plot, but they are never explained. The settings are described pretty well, but the characters tend to just appear in places and it takes a while to figure out why and where they are and that detracts quite a bit from the story. ( )
  -Eva- | Jun 17, 2009 |
In the seventh Brandstetter mystery, Nightwork, we find Dave investigating the death of a truck driver who took out life insurance just a couple of weeks before his death. The investigation is fraught with danger from the start as Dave visits the driver’s widow who lives in a run down neighbourhood plagued by rival gangs, blacks and Chicanos. As Dave follows his leads he encounters numerous characters from the black pastor struggle to engage with the youth of the area to an aging queen who lives alone in the big house overlooking the district, and some dubious goings on involving chemical waste disposal.

Working full time with Dave now is his young black lover Cecil, not fully recovered from the injuries sustained in the last episode Gravedigger. Their closeness and Dave’s concern for his young friend is touching. Nightwork is yet another excellent mystery, full of the usual attention to detail; an imaginative, complex and involved plot full of the unexpected. ( )
  Bembo | Jan 6, 2009 |
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