When Mr Le, the Vietnamese owner of a rundown harbour complex is found dead the police arrest the self appointed spokesman for the resident houseboat owners. He had an appointment with Mr Le in a bid to dissuade him from selling the harbour to developers and so making the residents homeless. Into his sixties and retired, the still trim and dapper Dave Brandstetter, private investigator an insurance claims investigator, now famous and acknowledged the best in the business, is persuaded to look into the case by the local Public Defender to prove the imprisoned suspect's innocence.
While reluctant to take on the assignment, he is intrigued, as much because his lover, the black twenty five year old tall, slim and good looking Cecil Harris, TV reporter, is covering the harbour development story. Dave soon finds himself involved in much more than a single murder investigation. As he starts asking questions he discovers more potential murders, and more happen while he investigates, he suspects a drug smuggling connection along with double-dealing employees and officials. But the powerful Vietnamese community makes his investigation not only difficult but extremely dangerous.
Obedience, the tenth of the Brandstetter mysteries is yet another complex, inventive and unpredictable story, plenty of detail, interesting characters, including a young black entertainer who nearly has Cecil face down in a bunk, and the occasional link to past investigations. But above all it is Dave and Cecil, and their mutually devotion, that now makes these stories so appealing.
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Dave Brandstetter Tries to Retire but Can't Make It Happen3 Oct. 2013
James L. Thane
- Published on Amazon.com
Dave Brandstetter, the insurance claims investigator who is the protagonist in Joseph Hansen's excellent series, is feeling his age. He's been threatening to retire for a while now and at the opening of this book, he officially pulls the plug. Dave sends letters to all of the insurance companies for which he has been a claims investigator announcing that he is calling it quits, much to the delight and relief of his lover, Cecil.
Unhappily for Cecil but happily for the reader, Dave's retirement lasts all of about two pages until a sympathetic young public defender comes begging for his help. A prominent Vietnamese businessman has been murdered. The victim owned an aging marina and was in the process of selling it to developers. The marina was basically the last stop for a group of aging boaters who live there on their even more dilapidated boats. Once the marina is sold, they will be kicked out with nowhere to go.
The marina residents have been protesting the sale and the group's spokesman, a particularly unpleasant man, has been arrested and charged with the murder. The young woman representing him believes that his is innocent and lays a guilt trip on Dave, claiming that he is the only one who can save her client.
Dave agrees to look into the case, which takes him into the heart of L.A.'s tightly knit and very secretive Vietnamese community. (The book is set in the late 1980s, when many Vietnamese had just moved to California in the wake of the fall of Saigon.) Dave uncovers a number of secrets that powerful people would like to protect and inevitably puts himself in grave danger.
This is another well-told story with a very engaging and sympathetic protagonist, and it's especially interesting for the glimpse it provides into the world of the Vietnamese who were coming to the U.S. at this time. Although the book is now over a quarter of a century old, it does not feel dated, and the reader is immediately immersed in this very interesting world. Another winner from Joseph Hansen.