Select one of the keywords
Mrs. Pollifax and the Whirling Dervish    by Dorothy Gilman order for
Mrs. Pollifax and the Whirling Dervish
by Dorothy Gilman
Order:  USA  Can
Fawcett, 1991 (1990)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Each book in the Mrs. Pollifax series is a jewel to be treasured due to the very endearing main character, Emily Pollifax. Dorothy Gilman introduced the series with the wonderfully Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax thirty years ago. In it, Emily, a bored middle-aged widow, visits the CIA and volunteers to be a spy. She turns out to have quite a knack for handling apparently simple tasks (such as courier) for which the regular agents are too busy. Of course, these periodic tasks always become more complicated, and the indomitable Emily handles them beautifully, entertaining the reader immensely along the way.

Gilman herself has travelled widely and she sends Emily all around the globe. Readers will enjoy the local color she includes in tales of adventures from Albania to Zambia to China and many places in between. Along the way, she always picks up fascinating companions who enliven the stories. However, the character of the charming Mrs. Pollifax herself is what draws us in to reading these books. Though Gilman has not really addressed the thirty year time span of the series, they only stretch credibility a little with the idea that an elderly woman could endure the hardships and dangers of traveling as an undercover agent. Emily has diligently taken karate for many years and can take care of herself. In addition, her senior citizen's wisdom and common sense stand her in good stead.

This ninth Mrs. P book is set in Morocco where Emily accompanies a full-time agent who must check out a group of informants spread around the country and determine which one is an imposter. Emily travels as his aunt so that they can look like tourists, camouflaging their intent. The task turns difficult almost immediately due to the arrogant and disagreeable agent who ends up not being what he seems. Wisely Emily has anticipated problems and taken precautions, so she is able to save the mission.

The Mrs. P books are always a very pleasant diversion from real life. I wrote my first and only fan letter to Gilman after the publication of the first of the series, and have eagerly read all the subsequent ones.
[b:Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
^bc]C]ame across one of my favorite mystery author's books in a thrift shop, picked it up and realized I had not read it! Joy of joys. I took it home and settled into a few hours of delightful reading. Mrs. Emily Pollifax is a lady past middle age who, feeling her life needed some excitement, presented herself as a prospective employee to the CIA.

Wonder of all wonders, she was hired! And so began the unlikely but enchanting Mrs. Pollifax series. She accepts assignments all over the world, mostly to out of the way places that she would probably never get to otherwise. It's especially pleasant to do it on Uncle Sam's dollars. In Mrs. Pollifax and the Whirling Dervish, she travels to Morocco to identify seven undercover operatives. One is thought to be a spy and it's up to her to pick him out.

Beginning her trip as a tourist, she quickly sees that she stands out in a crowd and decides to disguise herself by wearing the native garb. Only her eyes need show. Traveling with another operative, she crosses the desert in the middle of the night and meets a Dervish. While waiting for reinforcements, Emily learns about the Whirling Dervish religion and attempts a whirling ritual herself. It's all in the left foot.

It's an out and out fun book from this productive author. If you haven't read her before, start with the first of the series, but they can all be read and enjoyed as stand alone works. So travel with Emily to all parts of the globe and live vicariously through her exploits.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews