Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Review: Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle by Dorothy Gilman (Mrs. Pollifax #8)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Mrs. Pollifax and the other characters are fun
Cons: Plot a bit on the slow side
The Bottom Line
Travel to Thailand
For another wild spy ride
With charming hostess

No Vacation for Mrs. Pollifax

While I have read the early volumes in the Mrs. Pollifax series several times, I know for a fact that I had only read Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle once.  For some reason, I remember thinking this was the darkest book in the series.  But since I have been slowly rereading them, it was time to tackle this book again.

For those who aren’t familiar with this cozy spy series, Mrs. Pollifax is a recently remarried widow, grandmother, garden club member, and part time CIA agent.  She works for Carstairs and his assistant Bishop and heads out on what are supposed to be simple assignments as a tourist.  Of course, things always go horribly wrong and it’s up to Mrs. Pollifax to come out alive and somehow save the day for her country as well.

Mrs. Pollifax and her new husband Cyrus are planning a restful vacation to Thailand.  But hours before they leave, Bishop shows up and requests that they run one tiny errand for the CIA.  Just take a few hours.

Naturally, things don’t go as planned.  When Mrs. Pollifax goes to meet her contact, she finds him dead on the floor of the hut.  Returning to the street, she sees Cyrus being kidnapped.  Her only hope is to pursue the kidnappers with a man she doesn’t know – a man who might be a killer.  Is there any hope that she will see Cyrus again alive?

Now if you read my introduction carefully, you can already guess at the contents of this paragraph.  I have no idea why I thought this was the darkest book in the series.  It’s certainly better than the previous entry.  Yes, there is danger and suspense.  Yes, Mrs. Pollifax faces death.  But it’s the usual light hearted suspense with Mrs. Pollifax’s determination and spunk keeping things from getting grim.

The plot of this book is a reversal of sorts from what is normally happening.  In the typical book, things go horribly wrong for Mrs. Pollifax and we await breathlessly to see how she will get herself out of some increasingly suspenseful circumstances.  Meanwhile, we cut back to the CIA every so often for some comic relief and Carstairs and Bishop try to make sense of the reports they are getting from the country where Mrs. Pollifax is.

In this book, it is more the things that Carstairs and Bishop are learning that drive the twists of the plot.  Instead, most of the book features Mrs. Pollifax’s quest through the jungles of Thailand trying to find Cyrus again.  Things happen to her that only make sense to us because of what we’ve learned via Carstairs and Bishop.  The plot is still good and comes together very well at the end.  However, I felt it could have had a few more twists and turns to it to make it the best of the series.  Having said that, I didn’t really remember anything beyond the set up, so I was very anxious to keep reading and find out what would happen next.

Of course, Mrs. Pollifax herself is charming as always.  She is always delighted by the people she meets along the way, and seeing a country through her eyes is the next best thing to actually going there yourself.  The supporting characters are memorable and well fleshed out.

At just under 200 pages, there is not a wasted word in this book.  I don’t know if a lesser author could pack everything into this book and pull is off as well as the late Dorothy Gilman does.

Fans of the series will release this adventure of the most unusual spy.  Those who want to meet her would be better served with an earlier book before enjoying Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle.

If you need to backtrack to those earlier books, here is the Mrs. Pollifax Series in order.

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