I really like the idea of a woman who qualifies for a senior discount working undercover for the CIA, but Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station is a book that’s easy to put down. In fact, it took me months to read, though the prose is easy enough. The characters just didn’t grab me, nor did the plot.
Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station relates the story of CIA operative Mrs. Pollifax whom the CIA sends on a tour of China to work with another (unknown for much of the book) spy to help rescue an inmate of a Chinese labor camp. Like an Agatha Christie book, an assorted group is assembled and it’s all very gentile. Only the readers, Mrs. Pollifax and two others know that a big adventure is to come. It’s definitely a story Raymond Chandler would hate, as his essay “Simple Art of Murder” indicates. It’s got the tone of The Triple Petunia Murder Case, or Inspector Pinchbottle to the Rescue. In other words, it’s old fashioned and stodgy. The ending has surprises, but they come out of the blue and the pacing of the end is off. It’s as if the author got tired or a deadline crept up on her and she had to end immediately so she could start the next such story.
All in all, it’s not a great book, but not a bad one either.