Dorothy Gilman (1923-2012) was the author of 14 Mrs. Pollifax novels, including The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, the series debut; Mrs. Pollifax Pursued; Mrs. Pollifax and the Lion Killer; Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist; and Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled. She was also the author of many other novels, among them Thale's Folly.
This, the 11th novel in Gilman's best-selling Mrs. Pollifax mystery series, contains the elements that fans of that most cultured sleuth have come to expect: gardening, exotic locales, a reluctant heroine, and murder.
In her 10th adventure, the observant and unflappable Mrs. P. discovers a young woman hiding in a closet of her Connecticut home on the same day that she observes a suspicious white van patrolling the neighborhood. Kadi Hopkirk says the men in the van have been following her ever since she met Sammy, a childhood friend from the African country of Ubangiba, in New Haven, where he told her he was being guarded and secretly gave something for safekeeping. Mrs. Pollifax hides Kadi in the car and takes to the highway but is unable to shake the van until she calls on two former colleagues at the CIA, who send a helicopter to whisk them away to a traveling carnival in rural Maine. Mrs. Pollifax, last seen in Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief (1994), poses as a journalist, and Kadi becomes the lower half of the woman who is sawed in two, while the CIA pals find out who Sammy is and why he is being so heavily guarded. Like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat, Gilman, a deft stylist, adroitly resolves her plot's mysteries, finally bringing together a stabbing at the carnival, Kadi and Sammy's story and the abduction of a wealthy executive. Mystery Guild selection. (Feb.)