Saturday, February 13, 2021

G.G. Fickling's A Gun for Honey

Lady private detective Honey West is best remembered today as the heroine of the cult 1965-66 TV series Honey West. Long before the TV series she featured in a series of popular crime novels written by husband-and-wife team Gloria and Forest Fickling under the name G.G. Fickling.

The series began with This Girl For Hire in 1957. The Ficklings would eventually write eleven Honey West novels, the final instalment appearing in 1972.

The third Honey West novel was A Gun for Honey, published in 1958.

Honey’s father had established a successful private detective agency. After he was murdered his daughter Honey, having no other way of earning a living, had decided to keep the agency running.

Honey (who is the narrator as well as the heroine) has now been hired to find the Kissing Killer. He kills his (female) victims by smothering them with kisses. He kisses them to death. He’s been terrorising Shark Beach.

Honey has been hired by former horror movie director Rote Collier who is worried because the police think the murders sound like something out of a horror movie so they suspect him. He’s also worried about his wife and daughter he wants Honey to protect them. Rote’s daughter Fawn is twenty-three. His wife Helena is slightly younger than Fawn.

Helena has had a colourful past. She’s been a nude model and a pornographic movie star, among other things. With maybe a bit of blackmail on the side. Helena is very fond of men. She’s also very fond of women. She plays for both teams. As do several of the suspects in this case. There seems to be a lot of that sort of thing in Shark Beach. It’s apparently one of the things Shark Bech is known for. It does boast a bar called the Gay Blade.

Then the Kissing Killer strikes again. A woman is found nude and dead inside a mummy case (being a former horror movie director Rote Collier has a lot of items like mummy cases in his house). Honey figures the killer has to be one of the people at Rote Collier’s New Year’s Eve party. Rote’s parties can get a little wild. He provides little bedrooms for the use of guests who want things to get really wild. They invariably get used.

There are quite a few plausible suspects. There’s Wolf Larson, who operates a bathysphere at the pier. It’s the world’s biggest bathysphere and he lives aboard. Apart from taking tourists on dives to see the wonders of the underwater world he also takes young ladies aboard for other purposes. There’s photographer Hel Gandy, who takes nudie pictures and makes pornographic films (although he’s not the only one who films such things). There’s handsome Marine Corps fighter pilot Reed Walker, rather popular with the ladies. And there’s Rote Collier, whose personal life is a little unconventional. And there’s Fawn. They all have very strong motives.

The sleaze factor is very high in this book and it’s established right from the start. There are lots of naked women. Including bound naked women. There’s spanking. There are those movies. There are lots of sexual shenanigans going on in Shark Beach, some of them not exactly conventional.

And somehow Honey’s breasts (which she has to admit are rather impressive) seem to keep playing a prominent rôle in the story, along with her habit of never wearing a bra. Most of the male characters will at some stage discover that she’s not kidding about not wearing a bra. It’s not that Honey is the kind of girl who jumps into bed with any man who comes along but somehow her sweaters seem to keep coming off.

There’s not much graphic violence in this tale. In fact hardly any. Honey has her .32 revolver but she’s not really the kickass action heroine type (in the TV series she is transformed into very much a kickass action heroine). She’s tough and she’s not lacking in guts but she prefers to be more subtle. You’d be surprised how useful it can be to a lady private detective to be young and gorgeous and very well endowed in the bust department (especially if she doesn’t wear a bra). It tends to distract the suspects while she’s gathering evidence.

This might sound like a remarkable trashy book, and in some ways it is, but underneath all the sleaze there’s a decent enough mystery plot. It was good enough to keep me guessing. Although the solution is perhaps just a trifle far-fetched.

Honey has a knack for getting herself into trouble but she a knack for getting herself out of tight spots as well. Being young and pretty also tends to mean that suspects are not as much on their guard as they might be with a Mike Hammer-style PI and Honey uses this to her advantage. Male suspects are too busy trying to figure out how to get her out of her clothes to realise that she has brains as well as looks and that she’s closing the net on them.

A Gun for Honey is sleazy, trashy, amusing, entertaining and generally enjoyable. And by today’s standards very politically incorrect. It’s good dirty fun. Highly recommended if you like the idea of sexy lady PIs.


  1. "Honey’s beasts"
    Is this a typo or a reference to the other characters in the book?
    Do I have a very dirty mind, or do you have a very clean mind?

    1. It should of course be "Honey's breasts" - I've now corrected it. The authors do put considerable emphasis on them so I'll blame them for having the dirty minds!