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Author of 25 novels, including the Dave Brandstetter mysteries, and winner of the 1992 lifetime achievement award from the Private Eye Writers of America, Hansen here offers an affecting, atmospheric coming-of-age tale set in the seedy bohemian enclaves of WW II Los Angeles. Twenty-year-old Nathan Reed is struggling to make ends meet while he finishes his first novel. His relationship with Hoyt Stubblefield, a painter some years his senior, is clouded by Hoyt's mysterious disappearances. Then an FBI agent hints that there is more to his lover than Nathan knows. Hoyt has ties to the Communist Party and seems somehow involved with the murder of fellow radical Eva Schaffer. Since Hoyt will not discuss his past, Nathan decides to investigate on his own, an undertaking encouraged by Steve, Eva's handsome young G.I. son, who is (incidentally) attracted to Nathan. A host of subsidiary characters (an alcoholic writer working for the film studios, a failed playwright hustling for writing gigs, a family retired from the circus) round out the tale, making it reminiscent of Fitzgerald's Pat Hobby stories or a Nathanael West novella. The plot moves at a leisurely pace, and there's little overt sex. A surprise ending wraps up this gentle and melancholy coming-out tale. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Those who recognize Hansen's name from the Dave Brandstetter mysteries may be disappointed by this foray into historical fiction. Set in the 1940s, it's the story of lovers Nathan, an aspiring novelist, and Hoyt, an artist who gets about $300 a month from a mysterious source. Hoyt is given to disappearing for hours at a time and has asked Nathan not to question these absences. Of course, Nathan follows Hoyt one day and learns he's associating with Communists (remember, this is HUAC's heyday). The FBI shows up, there's a murder, Hoyt plays sleuth, and we learn a secret about Hoyt. Hansen throws in some interesting minor characters--Gentleman Jim, a screenwriter, and Flora Belle, a huge woman who runs a boarding house for her cruel son-in-law--and some major subplots involving whether Nathan will sell his novel, how Nathan's father will react to his gayness, and how Hoyt and Nathan will pay off the wicked son-in-law. Unfortunately, the subplots overwhelm the main issue: who committed the murder? Still, the characters are interesting, so expect demand for this effort wherever gay fiction is popular. ~--Charles Harmon