A family member told the Los Angeles Times Hansen died Nov. 24 at his home in Laguna Beach of heart failure due to a long respiratory illness.
"My joke was to take the true hard-boiled character in American fiction tradition and make him homosexual. He was going to be a nice man, a good man, and he was doing to do his job well," Hansen told the Orange County Register in 1998.
Five early Hansen novels and a collection of short stories that dealt with homosexual subject matter had been released by small publishers under the pseudonym James Colton when Harper & Row published his first Brandstetter mystery, "Fadeout," in 1970. The protagonist, Brandstetter was a Los Angeles insurance claims investigator.
Michael Nava, a San Francisco lawyer who writes a series of mysteries featuring gay attorney Henry Rios, said not only was Hansen a good gay writer, "but he is right up there with Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald in terms of being one of the great California mystery writers."