06 February, 2012

Mystery Musings: Requiem for a Writer: Dorothy Gilman

So sad to hear of the passing of last week of Dorothy Gilman.

The Mrs. Pollifax series was one of the first I ever read.  I loved Emily Pollifax, a 60-ish New Jersey widow bored by the compulsory round of tea and good works, who offers her services to the CIA.  Picture your mother/grandmother as a cold ware secret agent, traveling to such foreign places as Mexico, Turkey, Thailand, China, Morocco,  and Sicily. She triumphantly completed fourteen missions for the CIA, each memorialized in a book:
  •     The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax
  •     The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax
  •     The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax
  •     A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax
  •     Mrs. Pollifax on Safari
  •     Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station
  •     Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha
  •     Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle
  •     Mrs. Pollifax and the Whirling Dervish
  •     Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief
  •     Mrs. Pollifax Pursued
  •     Mrs. Pollifax and the Lion Killer
  •     Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist
  •     Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled
 In addition to the Mrs. Pollifax series, Gilman wrote   other books including her first, Enchanted Caravan in 1949, ending with Kaleidoscope in 2002. The Mystery Writers of America named Mrs. Gilman its 2010 Grand Master.


I've read most of her books, but in my mind, she will always be associated with Emily. Clever, plucky, intrepid and curiously naïve, with her trademark hats, Emily Pollifax practiced karate and meditation, was kidnapped, bonked over the head on numerous occasions, belonged to the garden club, and even found love late in life.  A feminist before her time.

If some of Gilman's plots seem a trifle improbable, they are none the less delightful reading.  At my age - which shall remain undisclosed -- it's refreshing to see a peppy granny heroine outwit the young and the sultry.  

I, for one, will be renewing my acquaintance with the charming Mrs. Pollifax very soon.

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