A female Pinkerton agent takes centre stage in this fun and
fast-paced historical crime story. Kate Warne the main
character is based on the real Pinkerton agent of that
name, who seized a career opportunity not previously open
to women. GIRL IN DISGUISE follows her challenging and
Allan Pinkerton opened a detective agency in Chicago after
police politics did not suit him. Kate Warne is widowed and
has no family, so she answers an advertisement for
operatives, and persuades Pinkerton to give her a trial. We
meet her during the first case as she pretends to be a bar
prostitute to catch the eye of a bank robber. But another
agent is already on the case and by working together they
can accomplish more.
To Kate's annoyance, some folks assume she has been hired
as an attractive woman around the office. She is determined
to prove her mettle and absorbs all her lessons, learning
how to fire a pistol and acquiring silk gloves to play a
wealthy woman. With a backstage background, playing parts
comes easily. However it's not long before she realises
she'll have to be twice as good as the men in order to be
The other main characters include Pinkerton detectives,
some of whom have something to hide, Kate's reliable
landlady, and those suspected of involvement in crimes.
Pinkerton does not investigate scandal or marriage issues,
and he wants to keep on the right side of the law.
Counterfeiting, blackmail, fraud and burglary are standard,
and Kate is also called upon to resolve murder cases. All
come across as strong characters, but our heroine is
strongest of all, dedicating herself more and more to her
amazing double life and succeeding beyond anyone's
expectations. I enjoyed the historical and social
background, the real figures of the day such as Abraham
Lincoln and depth of the settings.
MAGICIAN'S LIE is the title of author Greer
Macallister's debut crime novel, and after GIRL IN DISGUISE
I would be keen to read that one. Any fans of historical
crime, of amateur sleuth stories or of reconstructed
biographies of women in earlier times and interesting jobs,
should get on well with GIRL IN DISGUISE. I love how the
heroine could achieve so much in a male-dominated field.
Inspired by the real story of investigator Kate Warne, this
spirited novel follows the detective's rise during one of
the nation's times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely
independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the
fate of the country.
With no money and no husband, Kate Warne finds herself with
few choices. The streets of 1856 Chicago offer a desperate
widow mostly trouble and ruin—unless that widow has a knack
for manipulation and an unusually quick mind. In a bold move
that no other woman has tried, Kate convinces the legendary
Allan Pinkerton to hire her as a detective.
Battling criminals and coworkers alike, Kate immerses
herself in the dangerous life of an operative, winning the
right to tackle some of the agency's toughest
investigations. But is the woman she's becoming—capable of
any and all lies, swapping identities like dresses—the true
Kate? Or has the real disguise been the good girl she always
thought she was?