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Girl in Disguise


Girl in Disguise

A widow in the mid-1800s had few options, and fewer good ones. But not many women would have made the choice that Kate Warne did. True, she needed a job, and one that paid well would be most welcome, so she answered an ad placed by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Kate didn’t want a clerical job, though. No, she applied for a position as an operative. It took some persuading, but Kate was good at persuasion. And at the end of the interview, she had become the first female detective. Allan Pinkerton didn’t know what to make of this petite woman, but her arguments were hard to deny, so he gave her a chance. He never regretted it. Well, he may have had second thoughts now and then --- no one gets it right every time --- but he never regretted hiring her.

"...a mesmerizing journey into a fascinating time in history and an even more intriguing personality in the form of America’s first female private detective."

Kate had her ups and downs, but the fact that she worked for the agency as many years as she did is a testament to her natural talents. At times, she had to battle not only the bad guys, but also the guys on her own team. Many of them didn’t want to work with a woman or didn’t think she would be up to the task, and saw the fact that she was a woman as reason enough to deem her unfit to be an operative. But when it came to important cases, Kate worked her share.

As proof of his confidence in her, Pinkerton chose Kate to keep Abraham Lincoln safe when rumors were flying about a plot to assassinate him on the way to his inauguration. Well, we know how that turned out, for history tells us that Lincoln became our 16th president and served for over four years before being shot. Kate was not at Ford’s Theatre protecting him that night. Had she been, things might have turned out differently. She did, however, work as a spy for the Union, risking her life and happiness during the Civil War. When rumors of secession broke out, Pinkerton’s operatives were needed to play strategic roles in carrying messages and infiltrating Confederate groups to learn of their plans. Kate begged to be among them. She got her wish, but it took its toll. The end of the war was a relief in more ways than one.

GIRL IN DISGUISE showcases Kate’s chameleon-like abilities to morph into whatever identity she was called upon to assume. Her talent for lying, cheating and deceiving was exceeded only by her morality. Because of the nature of her career, little is actually known of the woman, so author Greer Macallister had free rein to fictionalize her life. She fleshes her out, making her into a person with honest feelings and human opinions as she weaves in true accounts of cases that the real-life Kate Warne worked.

The result is a mesmerizing journey into a fascinating time in history and an even more intriguing personality in the form of America’s first female private detective. Fortunately for us, Macallister has a knack for taking readers with her into a vast world of vivid, exciting imagination. Don’t miss this one.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on March 24, 2017

Girl in Disguise
by Greer Macallister