Dorothy Gilman is the author of the Mrs. Pollifax series. Mrs. Pollifax is a spunky woman, who in her sixties, becomes a spy for the CIA. An avid traveler herself, Ms. Gilman sent her undaunted female agent all around the world: Turkey, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Switzerland.
Mrs. Pollifax's first adventure, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, was made into a film starring Rosiland Russell. After the first book, Ms. Gilman assigned her spy heroine thirteen more missions.
I recently came upon and read two of her stand-alone mysteries, The Clairvoyant Countess and A Nun in the Closet.
In the first, psychic Madame Karitska teams up with Detective Luden in a large city (which I took to be New York) and solves not just one but a few baffling crimes and murders. This is more a series of short stories than a novel starring The Countess who uses her psychic abilities, powers of observation, and common sense to sort out the criminals and their wicked ways. Although Detective Luden is skeptical at first, he comes to appreciate Madame's gift and the two become friends. I liked the characters and Ms.Gilman uses the novel to explore the areas of predicting the future, mind reading, and communicating with the dead. Madame Karitska is on the level and this excursion into her world (written in 1975) was quite entertaining.
In A Nun in the Closet, also published in 1975, we have the story of a small convent that is willed a big old house and some property. Two of the nuns, the practical Sister John and the fey Sister Hyacinthe (who knows her herbs and weeds), take off in a borrowed van to inspect the convent's inheritance. What they find is more than they bargained for: a house that seems to be haunted; a suitcase full of money hidden in the garden well; a town run by a nasty sheriff; gangsters; a nearby camp of helpful hippies; and, a group of migrant workers.
Not to mention the man with a gunshot wound holed up on the second floor of the house. Because he asks for sanctuary and they cannot refuse him, the two sisters decide he must become Sister Ursula and dress him in a habit to avoid detection.
Quite out of the self-contained world at the convent.
Ms. Gillman gets to show off her knowledge of medicinal herbs and other wild plants and really lets the Sisters have a great time and gives them a bit of a worldly education as well.
Both books are easy to read and filled with humor. Reading them has put me in the mood to make the acquaintance of Ms. Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax, spy.