National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 11-13.


Gilman, Dorothy.  The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax.  New York: Doubleday, 1970.

Under her full name, Dorothy Gilman Butters wrote a dozen well-received novels for young adults from 1949 to 1963.  Then, in her mid-forties, she shifted gears considerably, developing a series of adult suspense stories around the quiet adventures of an unlikely intelligence operative.  Published under the name Dorothy Gilman, the novels in the series feature Mrs. Emily Pollifax.  In her mid-sixties, the recent widow looked toward an uneventful future and decided to apply for a position with the C.I.A.  Because she is able to blend inconspicuously into almost any setting, she actually makes a very effective operative.  Almost no one suspects that the polite and kindly, if somewhat curious, little old lady is a spy.  As several critics have pointed out, Gilman has, in effect, synthesized the conventions of the espionage genre with those of the “cozy” mystery.


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