Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Parker’

Do All PIs Carry Concealed Handguns?

Posted by Writing PIs on August 22, 2015

In movies and books, private eyes often carry handguns (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

In the writers’ classes we’ve taught on private investigations, this question has come up a lot. In those great old noir films, seems every shamus carried one and used it freely. Then along came Jim Rockford from the TV show The RockFord Files, and that easy-going, beach-loving PI preferred to keep his gun in a cookie jar rather than carry it.

We used to stash a stun gun under the front seat of our car, otherwise we don’t own or use any guns, and we know many PIs who don’t carry as well.

Private Eye Characters and Guns

A few years ago, there was a best-selling novel starring a junior PI (she’d just started work in her relative’s PI agency) and she carried a Glock in her glove compartment. The premise of the story was that her relative couldn’t trust her to take on any serious investigative jobs, so she’d been relegated to background checks and hunting down an occasional cheating spouse — and for those jobs, she carried a Glock? For us, that seriously stretched the story’s believability.

Making It Realistic

But many fictional PIs do carry firearms, and if the author makes it credible, it makes for a great read. There was a book out a few years back that starred a PI who had lost her license, and on top of that, she had a felony rap in her background. She carried a gun, but she knew she’d be in deep you-know if that became common knowledge, so she took great care to hide the fact (of course, she got caught and tossed into jail when it was found). The story was plausible because it reflected reality.

Another female fictional PI who carried a gun: Robert Parker’s female PI Sunny Randall. A former cop with grit and smarts, it’s plausible and nail-biting when Sunny pulls out a rifle and blasts the bad-guy as he trespasses her front door, leaving a bloody crime scene in her own living room.

Just keep in mind that under the conditions any real-life PI would legally carry a firearm, so would a fictional PI.

In The Rockford Files, Jim Rockford (R, played by James Garner) kept his gun in a cookie jar (image is in public domain)

Keep in mind, too, that in the real world armed PIs rarely (if ever) get into the kind of gunplay seen in fiction. Many PIs will tell you that if gunplay or a fight breaks out, it indicates an investigator isn’t doing her job well.  When a surprised client asked PI Jim Rockford why he wasn’t carrying a gun, he said, “Because I don’t want to shoot anybody.” After all, the primary guiding forces for any investigator are stealth and discretion.

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content (including images owned or licensed by Colleen Collins and/or Shaun Kaufman) requires specific, written authority. Any photos noted as being in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to steal.

Posted in Concealed Weapons | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Do All PIs Carry Concealed Handguns?

Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Award Finalists 2013

Posted by Writing PIs on June 24, 2013

private detective

The Shamus Award is awarded by the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) for the best detective fiction genre novels and short stories of the year.  For the first time this year, PWA also included ebooks in the competition (under the Indie category).

Below are the finalists, listed alphabetically by author, for the 2013 Shamus award (for works published  in 2012).  The winners will be announced at the PWA Banquet at Bouchercon in Albany, New York, on Friday, September 20, 2013.  Congratulations to all the finalists!


Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby by Ace Atkins

Taken by Robert Crais

Hunting Sweetie Rose by Jack Fredrickson

Blues in the Night by Dick Lochte

The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan


Hush Money by Chuck Greaves

Murder Unscripted by Clive Rosengren

Black Fridays by Michael Sears

Racing the Devil by Jaden Terrell

The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter


Death Warmed Over by Kevin J. Anderson

And She Was by Alison Gaylin

Archie Meets Nero Wolfe by Robert Goldsborough

False Negative by Joseph Koenig

Pulse by John Lutz


“The Sequel” by Jeffrey Deaver in The Strand

“After Cana” by Terence Faherty in EQMM

“O’Nelligan and the Lost Fates” by Michael Nethercott in AHMM

“Illegitimati Non Carborundum” by Stephen D. Rogers in Crimespree

“Ghost Negligence” by John Shepphird in AHMM


Stranger in Town by Cheryl Bradshaw

Enamorted by O’Neil De Noux

One-Eyed Jack by Christopher J. Lynch

White Heat by Paul Marks

Devil May Care by James Mullaney

Posted in 2013 Shamus Award, PI Topics, Shamus Awards | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Award Finalists 2013

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