While I’m away, the intrepid, younger-than-she-looks super-spy Mrs. Pollifax makes a return visit to Masters of Mystery Monday!

 

Welcome to Masters of Mystery Monday, where each week we feature a fictional detective and examine his or her unique contribution to mystery fiction.  You are invited to challenge yourself with a short detective quiz, and see the answers to the previous week’s quiz.  This week:

Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax

Mrs. Emily Pollifax, an elderly (65 years) resident of New Brunswick, New Jersey, widowed with two grown children, seems an unlikely heroine for an action-packed spy/mystery series, but that’s just what she is.  Bored with her weekly rounds of volunteer jobs, hobbies and clubs, Mrs. P. decides it’s time to fulfill a lifelong dream which marriage and motherhood prevented her from pursuing:  being a spy for the CIA.  She goes about applying to the CIA with the naivete, flexible thinking, and straightforwardness which become the hallmarks of her approach in more desperate situations in the series, and the results are comedic and refreshing.  She’s known for her intelligence, quick-thinking, compassion for people (in the first book making friends with her Albanian jailers through backrubs and chummy chats), and absurd hats.  Although a good part of each novel is light-hearted (cozy), Mrs. Pollifax doesn’t get away unscathed.  Over the course of  14 books, spanning 1966-2000, she is drugged, stabbed, shot, interrogated, kicked out of the country, tied up, tortured, and left to die.

The backdrops in the series are riveting and exquisitely described: Romania, Africa, Thailand, China, and Turkey, among others.  We get a mixture of customs, history, religion, and politics with each new locale.

Only the final book, Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled, is available as an e-book.  But they are all worth reading.

I advise starting with the first, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax.


 

Mrs. Pollifax in film:

Want more info?  Check http://mrspollifax.com/

Want the answers to last week’s quiz?

1. What is the name of Nick and Nora Charles’ dog?

  • Spike
  • Sherlock
  • Asta
  • Astro – this was the Jetson’s dog
2. What made the t.v. detective series Columbo different?
  • The murderer is shown planning and committing the crime at the beginning of the episode.  If you think about it, this seems like television suicide, since the whole point of a mystery is supposedly the solution.  But the Columbo series proved that getting to the solution was the most fun part, especially with this detective.
  • Peter Falk has a glass eye. (True, but once viewers know this, they don’t spend too much time trying to figure out which is which)
  • Half the cast of Star Trek appears as a guest star at one time or another.  (Maybe not half the cast, but a whole lot!)
  • Columbo uses high-tech equipment.
3. True or False: Edgar Allan Poe wrote detective stories.  True: his detective was C. August Dupin, retired from the Surete.  “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Purloined Letter” are his best known detective stories.

4. What nationality was Hercule Poirot, and why did Agatha Christie make that choice?  Poirot was Belgian, although other characters mistake him for French (which annoys him to no end).  Christie made him Belgian because Hitler invading Belgium was what brought England into the war and there were many Belgian refugees in England; this would make a foreigner as a central character more palatable to a British reader.

Be your own “Master of Mystery: take this week’s quiz!

1. What was the profession of the Hardy boys’ father?

  • policeman
  • lawyer
  • detective
  • plumber

2. What percent cocaine solution did Sherlock Holmes inject when bored between cases?

  • 20%
  • 75%
  • 5%
  • 7%

3. What was a favorite pastime of Nick and Nora Charles?

  • drinking
  • painting
  • making whoopee
  • sight-seeing

4. This detective said:  “Warning.  Assholes are closer than they appear.”

  • Charlie Chan
  • Sam Spade
  • Miss Marple
  • Ace Ventura

Hope you’re enjoying the quizzes.  So, who’s your favorite detective, either in film or books?  I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for joining me today.  See you soon!

Kathy

 

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