Title: The Amazing Mrs Pollifax (the 2nd of 16 Mrs Pollifax novels)
Author: Dorothy Gilman
Narrator: Barbara Ronsenblat
Publisher: Clipper Audio [originally 1970, this edition 2003]
Length: 6hrs 45 minutes
Setting: Turkey, present-day
Genre: Spy novel
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
My rating: 3.5/5
One-liner: A .
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Mrs Emily Pollifax is an unassuming American grandmother who recently became a spy for the CIA. In her second job for The Agency Mrs Pollifax must travel to Istanbul to make contact with a Russian spy, Magda Ferenci-Sabo, who is a double agent for the Americans. However with half the world’s spies descending on Turkey to be the ones to capture the apparently defecting woman to learn her secrets trouble soon finds Mrs Pollifax. Unperturbed she makes use of a series of unlikely allies that she meets in her journey across Turkey while finding and losing Magda Ferenci-Sabo several times and enduring several harrowing near-death experiences.
Despite having an entirely ludicrous premise I found myself thoroughly enjoying this story. Mrs Pollifax is a delightful character who is able to face whatever life throws at her with remarkable aplomb and she befriends a wonderful assortment of quirky people on her journey. There seems to be a decent enough flavour of the time period (my memories of 1970 being those of a 3-year old I can’t be certain) without the book being too dated and there is definitely a sense of the real Turkey depicted. Although it was 20-odd years later I’ve taken the same kind of bus rides as Mrs Pollifax took across that marvellous country and had much the same experiences as were described in the book.
Although unrealistic, the plot hangs together very well and even though you are certain things will all work out for Mrs Pollifax in the end there are enough escapades along the way to offer a decent amount of suspense. If you like realism in your crime fiction then this story isn’t for you but if you like the Amelia Peabody novels or the occasional guaranteed happy ending after a smashing adventure then I can recommend this book. The narrator for this audio version adds an extra half point to my rating as it was excellent and really helped me get lost in the story.