Girl in Disguise
by Macallister, Greer

Going undercover to infiltrate the seedy side of mid-nineteenth-century Chicago, Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective, assumes a range of sophisticated identities to track down evildoers and bring them to justice.

The title's disguised girl is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton agent, hired by Alan Pinkerton in 1856. Experienced as a child in assuming costumed roles for her father's scam operations, the adult Kate quickly becomes one of Pinkerton's best detectives, while also constantly battling prejudice against a woman doing a "man's job" and by reputation-damaging rumors, not to mention putting her life at risk. Authentic historical details lead readers right into the gritty criminal underbelly of Chicago (and elsewhere) and into the agency's role in fighting crime: infiltrating, investigating, and bringing down gangs, thieves, and killers. Macallister's story is a rip-roaring, fast-paced treat to read, with compelling characters, twisted villains, and mounds of historical details adeptly woven into the tale of a courageous woman who loves her job more than anything or anyone else. Kate's matter-of-fact courage and quick thinking may remind readers of Constance Kopp in Amy Stewart's mystery Girl Waits with Gun (2015). Those fascinated by Kate's adventures and personality might also appreciate Pinkerton's Secret (2008), by Eric Lerner, which takes a different tack on the relationship between Pinkerton and Warne. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

The story of the very first female detective traces her growth from determined young woman to seasoned pro.Though she was not a woman who expected to work, as few women of the 1850s did, Kate Warne is determined to find a position that suits her. Though she's a widow desperate for income, Kate eschews this identity, cultivating instead a reputation as a woman with a quick mind. When she applies for a position at the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Kate uses her powers of persuasion to convince Allan Pinkerton that having a woman on staff might be of particular value. Pinkerton gives Kate a trial case, and while she ends it at odds with fellow detective Tim Bellamy, she lands the job and becomes Pinkerton's first lady agent. Macallister (The Magician's Lie, 2015) follows Kate through her years with Pinkerton's, with each case serving as the next chapter in the serial storyline. Kate finds an ally in colleague Graham DeForest and potential adversaries in Bellamy and new hire Jack M ortenson. The animosity of the latter becomes more prescient when Kate is put in charge of her own department of lady detectives, and Mortenson's lack of respect for women becomes a serious problem. The story follows Kate as she comes into her own, from missteps and mix-ups, like losing key pieces of evidence, to protecting President Abraham Lincoln from an assassination attempt. An Author's Note provides some of the details on the differences between the fiction and Kate's true history, though those immersed in the plot may not want to know the difference. A celebration of a singular woman's life that's guided by facts but features some inviting imaginings. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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