A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Crider

G. G. FICKLING – This Girl for Hire. Pyramid G274, paperback original, 1957. Reprinted at least four times by Pyramid. Cover art by Harry Schaare.

   G. G. Fickling was the pseudonym of the writing team of Forrest E. (“Skip”) Fickling and his wife, Gloria, creators of Honey West, billed on the front cover, the back cover, and even the spine of This Girl for Hire as “the sexiest private eye ever to pull a trigger!” Honey’s sex is made much of in the course of the book: She spends as much time getting into and out of bathing suits as she does working on the case,and her measurements (38-22-36) are cited both on the back cover and in the text.

   The case itself, which involves eight deaths before it ends, begins when Honey is hired by a down-and-out actor whose apparent murder leads to the other killings, all of people involved in the television industry. Despite the setting, there is little actual insight into television, unless the actors, producers, and directors really do spend most of their days and nights drinking and carousing.

   The book is filled with incident, even including a strip-poker game, but the plot is so confusing that the reader is unlikely to be convinced by its unraveling, which comes about more by accident than by good detective work. Still, there is a certain pre-feminist charm in seeing the hard-boiled Honey at work in a man’s world, despite Lieutenant Mark Storm (his real name) and his attempts to persuade her to leave the brain work to the men.

   Pyramid Books occasionally referred to Honey West as “literary history’s first lady private eye,” and undoubtedly the novelty of a female first-person narrator helped sell the series, but James L. Rubel’s Eli Donavan was playing the same part years earlier in Gold Medal’s No Business for a Lady (1950). Still, it was Honey who wasa success, starring in eleven books and a TV series in which she was portrayed by Anne Francis.

   The Ficklings produced one other short-lived series for Belmont Books, this one featuring a male private eye named Erik March, in such titles as The Case of the Radioactive Redhead (1963).

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007. Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.