My friend Alison recommended Barbara Rosenblat’s narration of the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries, and so I listened to Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief purely out of interest in the audio.
I’ve read a couple books in this series before, so I already knew that Emily Pollifax is the unlikely elderly U.S. spy working for the CIA. She’s always getting sent off to distant places (but it’s not a travel series so don’t expect to learn much about China or the Middle East, even if that’s where she lands) and ending up in dangerous situations which she survives by her own wits, helpful friends, and good luck. That and the fact that people keep underestimating her because she’s old and kindly.
The situation in Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief is no different. The CIA receives an S.O.S. from a former agent, Emily’s friend Farrell, in Italy, specifically requesting her. It turns out he’s seen a villain that he knows she can identify by sight, perhaps the only American who can say that. She heads off to Palermo, where she’s met by Kate, another U.S. agent sent to recuperate with family following PTSD- inducing service in another location. Kate and Farrell take an instant dislike to each other, but the three of them must work together to survive whatever trouble Farrell’s landed in. As usual, Mrs. Pollifax’s karate chop will come in handy.
My friend was absolutely right about the narration. Barbara Rosenblat brings Emily Pollifax to life with a voice that kept reminding me of one of my grandmothers, older yet feisty, while also creating other characters like Kate and Farrell — their voices were less distinctive, but that only served to put the focus on Mrs. Pollifax, where it belongs.
The story was only 5 or 6 CDs long, so it would be perfect for a short- to medium-length car trip, or in my case for running around town escorting an 8-year-old to her multiple activities and playdates. (Unlike some of the mysteries I listen to, Mrs. Pollifax is definitely safe for children.)
Amazon won’t let me link directly to the audiobook, so here’s a link to the book: