Sun 7 Mar 2010
DOROTHY GILMAN – Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station. Doubleday, hardcover, 1983. Paperback reprint: Fawcett Crest, 1984.
CIA operative Mrs. Pollifax is off to China to rescue an incarcerated Chinese who knows all the whereabouts of the Chinese defenses on its Russian border. She is with a small group of tourists, one of whom she knows to be a fellow operative.
When the op is revealed, she’s amazed, but they work well together. There is danger and suspense; there is also a lot of China sightseeing, and there are encounters with individual Chinese people.
Being Mrs. P., things happen that no other tourist in China should expect. We all know that Mrs. P. and friends will get home safely, but it’s exciting reading all the same.
Gilman just about always gives us a good read, and this one definitely is.
Editorial Comments: A bit of good news is that Dorothy Gilman has been announced as the recipient of this year’s Grand Master Award by the Mystery Writers of America.
With a career as long as hers, and with her long list of fine crime and mystery fiction to serve as credentials, the honor and the congratulations that go with it are certainly more than due!
Dorothy Gilman’s first book, Enchanted Caravan (not a mystery), was published in 1949. Since then she’s written three dozen or so other novels, including 14 in the Mrs. Pollifax series, the most recent being Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled (2000).
The first book in the series, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, was filmed (United Artists, 1970) as Mrs. Pollifax — Spy, starring the perfectly cast Rosalind Russell. It was filmed a second time as a made-for-TV movie in 1999, this time having the same title as the book. This second outing starred Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Pollifax, perhaps an obvious choice as one of the “coziest” spies in the business.
Dorothy Gilman’s other series character, Madame Karitska, has appeared in two novels, separated by what may be a record number of years: The Clairvoyant Countess (1975) and Kaleidoscope (2002).