Wednesday 3 November 2021


Synopsis/blurb ...

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 themselves entangled with one unbelievably feisty lady.

A bit of a punt was taken on this one, the first in a 14 books long series, featuring Emily Pollifax, a bored widow of a certain age who offers her services to the CIA. On the surface it had the potential to border on farce or the ridiculous, but I found myself really enjoying this one from the mid-60s.

Mrs Pollifax presents herself at Langley, volunteering service for her country and after a mix-up is assigned to collect some important documents from a bookstore in Mexico City. It's secrets from South America, but the jig is up and the opposition are trying to intercept the goods.

Rather inevitably things do not go to plan and she and another American, Farrell are kidnapped and renditioned to Albania of all places. Get out of that one, Emily.

Great fun from start to finish. I really liked the main character - stoic, capable, calm, experienced and ready to deal with whatever happened to her next phlegmatically. I enjoyed the direction the story took. Numerous scrapes and incidents, both in and out of captivity and an interesting cast of characters including a Chinese General, her travelling companion, her Albanian captors, a family of goat herders, a Russian agent, a British scientist, some American spy types and an over-bearing neighbour.

I was reminded a bit of Lawrence Block and his adventurer-cum-agent, Evan Tanner. I was amused throughout and didn't know what was going to happen next. No real tension in the book at all, just some humorous escapades with never a dull moment. 

Great writing. Why has it taken me so long to discover Dorothy Gilman and Emily Pollifax?
I'm looking forward to trying more from this series (already have in fact). 

4 from 5

Read - (listened to) October, 2021
Published - 1966
Page count - 240 (8 hrs 18 mins)
Source - copy from Audiobooks
Format - Audible 


  1. This was very unexpected, Col. I am glad you enjoyed it, but I am surprised. I loved this series and especially this first one. I read about half of them ... in order of course. A couple of years ago my next door neighbor, who has been a bookseller for years, gave me a few of them. I would like to reread some and determine which ones I haven't read.

    1. Tracy, maybe I am mellowing as I get older. I neglected to say that I loved the narration which maybe added to my enjoyment. I've read another one and a half of her books since this one was enjoyed.

  2. I'm so glad you liked this one, Col! I've always liked the Mrs. Pollifax stories a lot, and this is a really solid beginning to the series. Like Tracy, I'm a bit surprised you liked this so well, but glad to see it!

    1. Margot, I'm happy I have the capacity to surprise you on occasions! Gilman could certainly write and entertaining mystery!