Johnson_Johnson4 Johnson_Johnson7 Johnson_Johnson2 Johnson_Johnson1 Johnson_Johnson3 Johnson_Johnson5 Johnson_Johnson6
Full Name: Johnson, Johnson
Nationality: British
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Dorothy Dunnett
Time Span: 1968 - 1991


Johnson Johnson is an agent for British Intelligence.

According to a brief in the front of the book "Dolly and the Bird of Paradise" (also known as "Tropical Island"), the man with the same first and last name is a "portrait painter, yachtsman, and unpaid official investigator".

His boss is Sir Bernard Emerson who runs an agency that is part of the British Secret Service. As the series begins, Johnson has just finished recovering from a mysterious explosion which nearly killed him and did take the life of his wife. It took a strange and interesting case to get him out of his depression but once that happened, his new life began.

That life consisted of painting much sought after portraits for the rich and famous. Johnson travels to most of the locations for his artistry onboard his much prised yacht, christened the "Dolly". His bohemian lifestyle now seems to suit him with his unruly hair, unkept clothes, and a seemingly souciant attitude. The most distinguishing aspect to him, one that is mentioned almost immediately by each main character in the books, are his bifocals. Described as "housefly" in one book, they must be remarkable though exactly why is not stated.

Each book in the series concerns a different character. The person is usually quite independent and capable of taking care of herself under normal conditions but then is thrown into situations which are far from ordinary. Just as circumstances seem about to become too much, in walks Johnson to put a bit of calmness and normalcy to life.

Even though these are undoubtedly firmly in the romance category, there are no great love affairs between the heroine of each book and Johnson. Most have already someone they care for or meet someone during the adventure. Johnson is just there to help and then to sail off at the end to another mystery.


Number of Books:7
First Appearance:1968
Last Appearance:1991

1 Dolly And The Singing Bird Dolly And The Singing Bird
aka The Photogenic Soprano and Rum Affair
Written by Dorothy Dunnett
Copyright: 1968

Tina Rossi is a famous soprano in Edinburgh to visit her boyfriend. She can't find him but does find a corpse in his wardrobe. Johnson is there to help with the body and the police but then her boyfriend is accused of sabotage.

2 Dolly And The Cookie Bird Dolly And The Cookie Bird
aka Murder In The Round and Ibiza Surprise
Written by Dorothy Dunnett
Copyright: 1970

Sarah Cassells had just finished her training as a chef when she learns her father died violently on Ibiza. Going there she hears a verdict of suicide is likely but she refuses to believe it and Johnson tends to believe her.

3 Dolly And The Doctor Bird Dolly And The Doctor Bird
aka Match For A Murderor and Operation Nassau
Written by Dorothy Dunnett
Copyright: 1971

Dr. B. Douglas MacRannoch was a resident in Scotland until her father, the Chief of the clan, needs to relocate to the Bahamas for his help. She goes with him and gets a job in a small hospital there. Getting involved in espionage was not her idea.

4 Dolly And The Starry Bird Dolly And The Starry Bird
aka Murder In Focus and Roman Nights
Written by Dorothy Dunnett
Copyright: 1973

Ruth Russell is a British astronomer working in Rome. Strange events start plaguing her, like her camera being stolen, her film going missing, and somone leaving a body in the observatory where she works. She soon has unsought assistance from Johnson who is in town to paint the portrait of the Pope.

5 Dolly And The Nanny Bird Dolly And The Nanny Bird
aka Split Code
Written by Dorothy Dunnett
Copyright: 1976

On a skiing trip to Manitoba, Joanna, hired as a nanny, becomes showbound. Thus begins her strange adventure that will take her from there all the way to Yugoslavia, meeting Johnson along the way.

6 Dolly And The Bird Of Paradise Dolly And The Bird Of Paradise
aka Tropical Issue
Written by Dorothy Dunnett
Copyright: 1983

Rita is a Scottish makeup artist working in Madeira who wants to know who killed her boss, Kim-Jim, considered one of the best in makeup. Even after his death is linked with drug smuggling, she continues the investigation.

7 Send A Fax To The Kasbah Send A Fax To The Kasbah
aka Moroccan Traffic
Written by Dorothy Dunnett
Copyright: 1991

Wendy Helman is the executive secretary for the CEO of a major conglomerate, in Morocco for highly secret talks about a possible takeover. The spies confounding things are both industrial and international, presenting her with considerable danger.


I am not a fan of romance novels and I usually pick up one with a frown, knowing I need to read it to write about it but not enjoying the prospects. That's what happened with the first of the Johnson books. And it was probably three pages in that I began to enjoy it. And I kept enjoying it through the book.

Ms. Dunnett could write! She makes her characters interesting and believable. She puts them into outrageous situations which sound plausible and understandable. She gives them a chance to laugh, nervously at times, as well as be fearful.

And I like Johnson. I don't understand the idea of the same first and last name as that seems a bit too perculiar, but I do like the character. And I like the series.


My Grade: B-


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