The Spanking Girls is not the typical Al Wheeler book by Carter Brown, in so much as it leans heavily towards the sleaze pulp sub genre rather than the dime store detective books Brown's perennial cop prominently features, so some 'buyer beware' is necessary for potential readers; if you're not into sleaze pulp with extra cheese then don't both picking this one up.
The title alone aptly captures what lies within the pages of this 1979 installment in the Al Wheeler chronicles; a young, attractive woman is found murdered at a beach house, the MO is pure evil; this wasn't a crime of passion, it's got hatred and determination fingerprinted all over it. So when Al Wheeler comes to investigate of course he's going to zero in on the attractive Elaine Matthews, daughter of the beach house owner who discovered the body of the victim shortly after arriving for vacation, notice her supple body and request a quiet drink or two while he waits for the 'meat-wagon' to take the victim away; reality be damned, throw sensibility out of the door while reading this book.
Wheeler has one thing on his mind and it isn't murder, and as the investigation unfolds 'The Spanking Girls' title takes on relevance; the victim and another attractive knock-out redhead who is friends with Elaine's brother (the brother who happens to have been dating the victim) work in the porn industry posing for mags specifically catering for the 'spanking' niche market - Wheeler barely contains himself; all previous sense of character is thrown out the window as Brown transforms his prime protagonist into a generic womanizer with no substance who bounds from one bed to another until the case is solved in a standard grandstand finale - the murderer, however, is easily discernible early in the piece which makes this grandstand finale a little less 'grand'.
The Spanking Girls is entertaining enough if you're aware of what you're getting into. It doesn't bring much to the table but is fast paced and easily read in one sitting. Certainly not the best of the Carter Brown books - I'd give this 2.5 / 5 stars.