Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

"She (Mrs. Pollifax) had never thought of goats as smelling; she had never thought of goats at all, but of course no one bathed goats and this was the dry season."

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax is the first in a long series of books about Mrs. Pollifax of the CIA. Mrs. Pollifax was not always a spy in the Secret Service, and this story of her very first adventure tells how it all came to be. Mrs. Pollifax is getting up in years, her children live a ways away and she hates to be a bother, but sometimes, Mrs. Pollifax thinks of not stopping when she walks to the edge of her balcony to set out her pots of geraniums.

Mrs. Pollifax decides she must do something to bring meaning to her life, and remembers her childhood dream of being a spy. So, she hops off on the first bus to present herself to the Central Intelligence Agency. Through a seemingly unfortunate mix-up, Mrs. Pollifax is employed as a courier. Her mission: to retrieve a set of microfilms that will blow Castro's dark little secrets wide open.

The trouble is, the Commies catch wind of the mission and Mrs. Pollifax along with her new friend Farrell, are whisked away to Albania to be questioned and tortured by General Perdito and the Red Chinese. Farrell attempts to kill himself by jumping off a cliff rather than give away the secrets he knows, but sustains only a broken leg and a gun shot wound. As Mrs. Pollifax realizes the gravity of their situation, a plan begins to form in her mind. With some extraordinary luck, charm, wit and the help of a few guards who have come to adore Mrs. Pollifax, she, Farrell, and an unknown Chinese prisoner escape to Yugoslavia where they are rescued by the CIA.

I read this book a few years back and really loved it. I have to say that I loved it just as much the second time through. The book well plotted, exciting and funny. Mrs. Pollifax is a truly classic character.

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