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Literature / Mrs. Pollifax

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The Mrs Pollifax series is a series of espionage thrillers by Dorothy Gilman, featuring an elderly widow named Emily Pollifax.

The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax, the first book of the series, begins with Mrs Pollifax, feeling useless and terminally bored, deciding to pursue her childhood ambition and become a spy. Her application to the CIA happens to coincide with an urgent situation requiring somebody who is not known to the opposition and who can convincingly play the role of an innocent tourist, two qualifications for which she is aptly suited, so instead of immediately telling her to get lost, she's offered what's expected to be a straightforward courier run. Of course, things don't go as smoothly as expected...

    Novels in the series 
  • The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax (1966)
  • The Amazing Mrs Pollifax (1970)
  • The Elusive Mrs Pollifax (1971)
  • A Palm for Mrs Pollifax (1973)
  • Mrs Pollifax on Safari (1977)
  • Mrs Pollifax on the China Station (1983)
  • Mrs Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha (1985)
  • Mrs Pollifax and the Golden Triangle (1988)
  • Mrs Pollifax and the Whirling Dervish (1990)
  • Mrs Pollifax and the Second Thief (1993)
  • Mrs Pollifax Pursued (1995)
  • Mrs Pollifax and the Lion Killer (1996)
  • Mrs Pollifax, Innocent Tourist (1997)
  • Mrs Pollifax Unveiled (2000)

The series provides examples of:

  • Make It Look Like a Struggle: In The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax, the soldier who assists Farrell and Mrs Pollifax in their escape attempt insists that they tie him up so he won't be suspected, and offers helpful advice on where best to hit him on the head to render him unconscious without doing permanent damage.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Mrs. Pollifax, wife of the late Virgil Pollifax, is a prim, kind, innocuous, charming, genteel badass.Joined the CIA when she was already a grandmother because she felt that she had outlived her usefulness. Promptly proved herself astonishingly practical and resourceful.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: One of the characters in The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax, to the point that Mrs Pollifax speculates about mental disability.
  • Ransacked Room: In Mrs Pollifax On Safari, Mrs Pollifax packs her case with great care and always in the same way. Because of this, she can pick up the subtle shifts that proved someone had searched it and repacked it, very neatly.
  • Spy Fiction: Very Martini-flavored parody of the genre, with the first being Bathtub Gin.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out!: In The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, Mrs. Pollifax and a fellow agent called Farrell are captured by the enemy. Farrell is shot in the shoulder during an attempt to throw himself off a cliff to avoid questioning, and as his condition worsens, much is made of how the bullet must be removed before it kills him. As soon as this is done (not by a doctor, in the rather unsanitary environment of a prison cell), Farrell's health begins to improve.