Dorothy Gilman is an author of mystery and espionage novels.
She is the author of a series of novels about Mrs Emily Pollifax, an elderly widow who, feeling useless and terminally bored, decides to pursue her childhood ambition and become a spy. Her application to the CIA happens to coincide with an urgent situation requiring somebody who is not known to the opposition and who can convincingly play the role of an innocent tourist, two qualifications for which she is aptly suited, so instead of immediately telling her to get lost, she's offered what's expected to be a straightforward courier run. Of course, things don't go as smoothly as expected...
Other novels by Dorothy Gilman include The Clairvoyant Countess and sequel Kaleidoscope, about a psychic descended from the Russian nobility who befriends a policeman and helps him in his investigations; and The Tightrope Walker, about an emotionally-scarred antique dealer who gains self-confidence and a variety of new friends while investigating a cry for help hidden inside one of her antiques.
Works by Dorothy Gilman provide examples of:
- Bad Dreams: In The Tightrope Walker, Amelia is plagued with nightmares related to her traumatic childhood.
- Bad Humor Truck: In The Clairvoyant Countess there is a significant ice cream truck company run by a very scary bad guy.
- Defictionalization: In The Tightrope Walker, the protagonist's favorite novel as a child turns out to be unexpectedly relevant to the plot. The Maze in the Heart of the Castle was fictional, but few years later, Gilman actually wrote it.
- Impoverished Patrician: The countess's background in The Clairvoyant Countess; she has settled down to working for her living.
- Little Old Lady Investigates: Mrs Pollifax
- Make It Look Like a Struggle: In The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax, the soldier who assists Farrell and Mrs Pollifax in their escape attempt insists that they tie him up so he won't be suspected, and offers helpful advice on where best to hit him on the head to render him unconscious without doing permanent damage.
- Never Mess with Granny: Mrs Pollifax
- Obfuscating Stupidity: One of the characters in The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax, to the point that Mrs Pollifax speculates about mental disability.
- Pater Familicide: One of the other psychics in The Clairvoyant Countess is rescued from one of these.
- Psychic Powers: The Clairvoyant Countess, not surprisingly.
- Ransacked Room: In Mrs Pollifax On Safari, Mrs Pollifax packs her case with great care and always in the same way. Because of this, she can pick up the subtle shifts that proved someone had searched it and repacked it, very neatly. (Note that tradecraft makes James Bond and Travis McGee carefully arrange things to alert them if they've been searched -- Emily Pollifax is just a neat elderly lady. But that's the point.)
- Spy Fiction: The Mrs Pollifax series
- Write Who You Know: In The Tightrope Walker, the manuscript of an author's last novel, lost at her death and subsequently rediscovered, turns out to contain characters based on her relatives, and so keenly observed that their fates in the novel foreshadow events that occurred after the novel was completed.