I discovered Mrs. Pollifax at the beginning of 2012: I was doing this 52 countries reading challenge, and my library did not seem to have any of the book I wanted to read on Morocco. So I looked at what was available on that country, and stumbled upon an audiobook called Mrs. Pollifax and The Whirling Dervish.
I realized it was #9 of a whole series, and that each book was in a different country! Ah, perfect!
So since then, I listened to 2 other books and read 1 of that series, that fit my challenges. Iin the order of the book covers above: on Albania, Jordan, and Switzerland.
Who is then Mrs. Pollifax?
She is a bored grand-mother, though very active with karate, yoga, garden club, etc.
So one day, as she would like a bit of adventure in her life, she goes to the CIA if by any chance they could hire her. They can, especially as she does not look at all like a secret agent, what with her flowery hats, but has nevertheless great intuition, common sense, and secret skills, like deadly karate moves! And so she is sent on various missions to different countries.
Emily Pollifax is a delightful character. These are great detective stories, really well done.
The details on the countries where she is sent are good and very evocative.
In the 4 books I have now read/listened to in this series (which counts a total of 14), there’s often a child involved, who helps Emily Pollifax. It’s a neat addition to have this relation between the 2 generations of grand-children and grand-parents. Seriously, it is GOOD! I’m surprised the name Dorothy Gilman is not more popular. Oh and I just discovered some have been turned into movies.
I even prefer the audios, the narrator, Barbara Rosenblat is awesome. She has the perfect tone of voice for this super active grand-mother, as well as for her warmth. I can’t imagine Emily Pollifax having any other voice. I discovered that Barbara Rosenblat won the award Gold Voice – Best Voice for Mystery and Suspense 4 years in a row, no wonder!
In The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (#1 – in 1966. 204 pages)
Mrs. Virgil (Emily) Pollifax of New Brunswick, New Jersey, was a widow with grown children. She was tired of attending her Garden Club meetings. She wanted to do something good for her country. So, naturally, she became a CIA agent. This time, the assignment sounds as tasty as a taco. A quick trip to Mexico City is on her agenda. Unfortunately, something goes wrong, and our dear Mrs. Pollifax finds herself embroilied in quite a hot Cold War–and her country’s enemies find themsleves entangled with one unbelievably feisty lady. [Goodreads]
In Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist (#13 – in 1997. 224 pages)
Working with her retired CIA friend John Farrell, Mrs. Pollifax must smuggle a manuscript out of Jordan, a document that encodes the shocking truth of Saddam Hussein’s reign.
Hardly are the two airborne when the coils of Middle Eastern intrigue begin to unwind. Mrs. Pollifax’s seatmate is not the affable Arab businessman he pretends to be. It is not imagination that persuades Mrs. P. that wherever they go, she and Farrell are followed. To elude their pursuers in such a politically volatile country isn’t easy. In fact, it can be downright deadly. . . . [Goodreads]
In A Palm For Mrs. Pollifax (#4 – in 1973. 192 pages)
This time the mysterious Mr. Carstairs sent her to Switzerland–to a famous health resort where the world’s intelligence agents had gathered. Her mission: to track down a missing package of plutonium–just enough to make a small atomic bomb. It was a job that suited Mrs. Pollifax’s talents. She’s good with people and even better at sniffing out their secrets. But it was not until she became enchanted with Robin, the young jewel thief, that her new adventure really began…. [Goodreads]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dorothy Gilman started writing when she was 9. At 11, she competed against 10 to 16-year-olds in a story contest and won first place. Dorothy worked as an art teacher and telephone operator before becoming an author. She wrote children’s stories for more than ten years and then began writing adult novels about Mrs. Pollifax–a retired grandmother who becomes a CIA agent. The Mrs. Pollifax series made Dorothy famous. While her stories nourish people’s thirst for adventure and mystery, Dorothy knew about nourishing the body as well. She used to live on a farm in Nova Scotia, where she grew medicinal herbs. Her knowledge of herbs comes through in many of her stories, including A Nun in the Closet, in which a nun treats a man’s wounds with the herbs growing nearby. Many of Dorothy’s books, including Caravan, feature strong women having adventures around the world. Dorothy spent much of her life in Connecticut and Maine. She died at age 88 of complications of Alzheimer’s disease. [Goodreads]
And there’s a great Mrs. Pollifax fan club website!
HAVE YOU MET MRS. POLLIFAX?
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE FEMALE DETECTIVE?