Dorothy Gilman

According to the Internet, novelist Dorothy Gilman's real last name is "Butters". Now, while I can see that "Dorothy Butters" may not scream "hardboiled suspense writer", I think that it is the perfect name for the author of the Mrs. Pollifax series, and am very disappointed that she doesn't use "Butters" professionally.

Ms. Gilman (Butters) is best known for her Mrs. Pollifax books, a mystery/suspense series featuring a sunny-tempered, quick-witted, sixty-something heroine. When Mrs. Pollifax finds herself at loose ends after her widowhood, she fulfils a lifelong dream by trotting down to the CIA headquarters and offering her services as a spy (reflecting that it would make a nice change from Garden Club meetings). Through a series of far-fetched miscommunications, she is accidentally hired and immediately sent on a mission. In no time at all, Mrs. Pollifax finds herself in a Communist stronghold in Albania, fighting for survival....

Though the Mrs. Pollifax series can get a little twee (even in the most dire circumstances, Mrs. Pollifax is all twinkling eyes and Queen Mother hats), it is a creative, entertaining, and female-friendly addition to all those hyper-masculine Clancy and Grisham novels on the action/suspense shelves.

I was pretty underwhelmed by how much emphasis Gilman placed on Mrs. Pollifax being a sweet old lady. She's supposed to be an extraordinarily fit woman in her early sixties, for God's sake, not 95 and bedridden. This isn't a huge criticism, but I think it did make the books seem dated.


Other Recommendations:
The Hillary Tamar mysteries, by Sarah Caudwell.

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Posted by: Julia


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