Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In MRS. POLLIFAX AND THE SECOND THIEF, Dorothy Gilman’s tenth novel about her redoubtable protagonist, Mrs. Pollifax is once again recruited by Carstairs of the CIA. Her assignment, should she decide to accept it, is to answer an SOS cable from Sicily from John Sebastian Farrell.

Farrell wires that only Mrs. Pollifax and her husband can help him, and that they must be in Erice, Sicily, by noon the next day. Although her husband is unable to go, Mrs. Pollifax can, and will meet another agent on the island.

All Mrs. Pollifax knows is that first she will be flown to Virginia to attend a certain funeral, and that Farrell has requested information on a mysterious art collector who hired him to find a rare document bearing the signature of Julius Caesar.

The excitement begins just after Mrs. Pollifax lands in Sicily, encounters agent Kate Rossiter and meets up with Farrell. He tells them that “someone” is out to get him, and he needs to get out of Erice. As the trio sets off in Kate’s car for a safe haven, that “someone” sets out after them, with deadly intent. This rescue, however, is not the only reason Farrell has asked for Mrs. Pollifax. The other is almost too terrible for Farrell to reveal.

The story takes the reader, and Mrs. Pollifax, on a wild roller coaster ride replete with twists and turns, zinging bullets, mysterious noises, disappearing works of art, and a nefarious plot of outrageous proportion. It is well worth the price of admission.