Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review: Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief by Dorothy Gilman (Mrs. Pollifax #10)



Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Mrs. Pollifax and other characters; plenty of fun
Cons: Climax works, but definitely weak
The Bottom Line:
Meeting an old friend
Danger, adventure, and charm
The usual fun




Mrs. Pollifax, a Signature, and Danger in Sicily

I really do wish I had more time to reread books.  Take for instance the Mrs. Pollifax series.  I’ve been on a mission to reread and review that series for years now, and I’m only up to book 10.  I did make the time to reread Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief, and I was reminded why I loved this series so much when I first discovered it almost 20 years ago.

In case you have yet to meet the charming Mrs. Pollifax, she is a grandmother, garden club member, and part time CIA agent.  All of her cases find her taking on what appear to be simple assignments that become much more complicated when she is in the field.  When the series started out, she was a recent widow, but along the way she has remarried, although Cyrus is absent from most of the books (which is a shame because I like him.)

While the characters never really age, the times definitely change, each book being set in the time it was first published.  The first book was written in 1966 and transports us to a time with a very active cold war.  By this book, we’ve hit 1993.  Some of the books provide insight into the politics around the world of the day, but this one doesn’t do that.  It’s still a fun read, however.

Mrs. Pollifax was looking forward to a few days at home alone when she gets the call from Bishop.  Farrell, a friend from two previous adventures, is in trouble in Sicily and he has specifically requested Mrs. Pollifax.  But first, she needs to go to a funeral and take pictures of the attendants.

That weird request out of the way, Mrs. Pollifax flies to Sicily, but she’s hardly made contact before she, Farrell, and their contact are being followed by multiple cars.  Farrell was in the country to confirm a signature reported to be from Julius Caesar, but after he glimpsed an old foe both he and Mrs. Pollifax know, he found himself in danger.  Was he correct in his ID?  Is that why he is being followed?  And what about that funeral?

Now if all those elements seem random and disjointed, I can promise you there is a reason for everything, and things come together perfectly pretty early in the book, actually.  From there, it’s just a matter of hanging on as we watch yet another wild ride unfold.  The climax doesn’t quite come together as well as the random elements do early in the book, but it works okay.  It’s really my only complaint with the book, actually.

The characters in this series are always a delight, and this book is no exception.  Mrs. Pollifax herself is charming and fun, and I love watching her in action.  It’s always great to see Farrell again.  We meet quite a few new characters here, and they are well developed and fun to spend time with as well.

Despite the deadly danger, there is a bit of humor as well.  Mrs. Pollifax and her observations on things are often funny.  But the best scenes involve Bishop and Carstairs back in the states as they react to what they hear is happening.  They are often behind the times, which just makes those scenes even more fun.  These are not full blow comedies, but the bit of humor is a very nice touch.

Many of the books in the series really do stand alone, but this one references quite a few of the previous books and really spoils Farrell’s second appearance in Mrs. Pollifax on Safari.  I do recommend you read at least that one before picking up this book.

While I do wish the climax were stronger, I still loved spending time with Mrs. Pollifax again.  The fun and adventure of Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief is not to be missed if you are a fan of this series.

While not completely necessary, you'll enjoy the books more if you read the Mrs. Pollifax Series in order.

This is an entry in this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.

4 comments:

  1. Mrs. Pollifax is why I think I could be a spy. No one would suspect me in my cardigan, pleated skirt, and sensible shoes!

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    1. Sounds to me like you'd make the perfect spy.

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  2. I really must go back and read the Mrs. Pollifax books. I read several though definitely not all of them and always enjoyed them. Thanks for reminding me of this series!

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    1. You are welcome. I love this series, even on the second time through.

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