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The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax (1985)

The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax (1985)

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4.11 of 5 Votes: 1
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0449209121 (ISBN13: 9780449209127)

About book The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax (1985)

It was a pity this book was such a let-down after the first well-written and really cute novel. It wasn't terrible, but it had a couple of problems:Too Many CoincidencesObviously, a reader's going to need suspended disbelief to continue reading some of these books. In the first book, it wasn't so bad. But this one pushed the limits: Mrs. P meeting the girl on the plane and being asked to deliver a ring to the brother; the brother ended up helping Mrs. P by rescuing her friend even though she was clearly on the run from authorities; the random person they meet in the graveyard happens to end up being Turkish intelligence; Mrs. P learning how to fly a helicopter out of desperation; Collin stealing a bike from a local student who ends up helping them defeat the evil Professor; the little boy who happens to overhead conversations between Mrs. P and the evil Professor and spills the real deal to the gypsies who end up helping them instead and not the professor; etc. I think maybe a couple of coincidences would be apropos, but there seemed to be too many chance encounters with people turn into essential figures in the book.Unstable Characterization/PlotI think the worst of these is the one of Magda. I think that basically it would have been hard as the writer for a super-spy female to overshadow the main character, and so Magda was written into a tired, malnourished woman who kept fainting. But I found it unaccountably hard to believe that the woman touted in the first few chapters as some sort of superwoman would turn into a weakling who wasn't able to withstand a few slaps during interrogation. In the end, it is Mrs. P who somehow saves the day and Magda, with absolutely no help (AT ALL) from the superspy. I think it would have been more believable, and maybe more enjoyable, had it been a joint-partnership effort between the two, instead of Mrs. P rescuing Magda, and Collin rescuing the two of them. There just seemed to be too many extraneous figures, some of which appeared too suddenly and with too little character development to be doing the grandiose things that they were doing.The gypsies. When the evil Professor reaches the gypsies before Mrs. P does, he tells them a horrifying and inaccurate tale of how they are the ones who tortured Magda, and not him. The gypsies immediately turn on them, since Magda is passed out and cannot reveal the truth. Mrs. P + entourage are immediately tied up and threatened with imminent death. This is difficult to believe for the ensuing two reasons: (1) The gypsies have a head "shaman" woman who is apparently clairvoyant although crippled. This woman is able to figure out that Mrs. P is telling the truth from the matching scars on her arms (with Magda's) and because she's, well, clairvoyant. However, this makes NO sense, since she wasn't able to tell that the Professor was evil. The only excuse she makes is that "he swept on us like a storm." What, the clairvoyance couldn't withstand the sudden appearance of a storm? (2) The gypsies threatened to dismember and kill Mrs. P, Colin, Sanko(?), and Colin's uncle because they had been instrumental in torturing Magda. BUT when it turns out that it was the evil Professor, they just (literally) shrug their shoulders, tie Mrs. P back up so that the evil Professor can swipe at her with a knife and then pass out from a strong wine they had given him? Then, they just leave them there and the caravan just runs off, hoping that the Professor wouldn't follow?? That makes no sense -- why would they threaten to kill Mrs. P but not the Professor for the same crime??? Basically, it seemed like this was solely for the purpose of allowing the wild goose chase to continue into the mountains.(3) A third inconsistency in plot is the fact that members of the Turkish government later hail Mrs. P as a hero. This is absolutely unbelievable as they were trying to get their hands on Magda in the first place, and the police had tried to detain Mrs. P as a suspicious person who met up with Magda at the hotel. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense that she would be hailed as a hero after she was instrumental in getting Magda OUT of the country, contrary to what they wanted, even if she succeeded in routing out the Professor as a double agent for Russia and for Turkish intelligence. One has nothing to do with the other. Even if the police personally knew Mr. Carstairs would not matter in the least in whether Mrs. P is identified as an agent, because the head of CIA in charge of deploying agents would be known to foreign entities -- therefore it seemed that Mrs. P is quite cavalier in letting her spy status known to people.Basically, there just seemed to be a lot of holes in the book. I don't know if these are exacerbated or lessened due to the fact I listened to the audiobook version. But it made the book not quite as coherent as the first.

Excerpted from a review originally published at The Bookwyrm's Hoard.NOTE: This is a review of the audiobook.I've been a Mrs. Pollifax fan for a long time, so when I saw that our public library had some of Dorothy Gilman's delightful mystery series in audio format, I wanted to give them a try. I enjoy audiobooks when I'm doing housework, knitting, or running errands. Listening to a book with which I'm already familiar means I don't have to worry if my attention wanders for a few moments... for instance, while counting stitches. The Mrs. Pollifax novels are entertaining, exciting, and often quite funny. Although Mrs. Pollifax has been compared to Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, the two have little in common beyond their age (well over 50) and a certain aptitude for seeing past surface appearances. Mrs. Pollifax is far more adventurous, and her exploits involve much more travel than Miss Marple usually undertakes. Miss Marple has a vague, fluttery exterior which belies her razor-sharp mind.* Mrs. Pollifax is more definite (dare I say, more American?) in appearance and behavior, though her ability to, as her superior Carstairs puts it, sustain the role of innocent (and sometimes aggrieved) tourist is invaluable in her work for the CIA.In The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax, Carstairs once again calls on Mrs. Pollifax. This time, she will be traveling to Turkey to aid a defecting Communist agent -- who is really a Western double agent. When everything goes wrong, it's up to Mrs. Pollifax and her young friend Colin Ramsey to save the day.This reading of The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax is quite good. The narrator, Barbara Rosenblat, is adept with accents and voices; each major character has an individual voice. I'm not enough of an expert to know whether the Turkish and gypsy accents were accurate, but the educated English accent used for several characters was reasonably good for an American audience (though it probably wouldn't convince a British audience.) The characterization was equally solid; many of the characters' inflections sounded just the way I "hear" them in my head. I enjoyed this reading enough to want to seek out the rest of the series in audiobook format, provided they are performed by the same voice actor. I'd recommend this series to those who enjoy light mystery and/or light spy novels. FCC disclosure: I borrowed this from the public library.

Do You like book The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax (1985)?

I'm a bit "obsessive" and so, when I find a series, I will bend over "backwards" (as the saying goes)to get them in order...I did that here. This is another book that should strain the credulity of the reader (or listener) except that in the hands of Ms. Gilman it takes on the character of a comedy/drama/adventure (think I Spy with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby. How many remember that TV program?)that I would call a page turner...except that I listened to the audio version. :)Here Carstairs, Mrs. Pollifax's handler, the man who accidentally sent her on her first assignment has need of her again and sends her to help a defecting spy. Of course, things don't go as planned...again. But then what fun would the book have been if things had gone as planned?As I pointed out before...not a mystery fan, but these are good books. 4.5 here if I could give that.
—Mike (the Paladin)

A charming little spy thriller. A retired grandmother from a small town in NJ, Emily Pollifax spends her time between her church’s Garden Club, karate lessons, and an occasional assignment for CIA. Imbued with common sense, she is a James Bond of pensioners. Her latest CIA job took her to Istanbul, Turkey, where she saved the day despite all the misfortunes the author could heap on her. The story is short (170 pages) and occasionally funny, but I think there are too many obstacles on the heroine’s way to success. They pile up ceaselessly, so eventually the reader stops worrying about them. The novel reads more like a spoof than a real thriller. Perhaps that was the writer’s intent all along. The characters are a bit cartoonish, with no real depth in them, but the storyline is entertaining, and the scenery of Turkish landscapes is vivid. Occasionally, the author throws around little dollops of wisdom and humor that are as relevant today as they were 40 years ago, at the time of publication. Here is one example: “You could write to your brother then,” suggested Mrs. Pollifax comfortingly.The girl turned her head and stared wonderingly at Mrs. Pollifax. “Write?” she repeated blankly, and Mrs. Pollifax understood that she had stumbled upon a word utterly foreign to this girl and her generation.Keep in mind that the novel was published in 1970, before cell phones, Internet, and emails. Aren’t some generational issues ageless?Overall impression: read it when you have nothing better on your bedside table or while commuting. Nothing fancy, but you’ll like it.
—Olga Godim re-read "I'll feel sorry for myself later" p 125 is attitude that carries Emily onward. Colin, her new ally, blames "purest chivalry .. raised on King Arthur" p 64. Reason series appeals? Karma brings two lovers thought dead after WW2 back together. (view spoiler)[Magda and Uncle Hu (hide spoiler)]
—An Odd1

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