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  • Writer's picturemeredithjohnson

Book Review: Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister

It's the 1850's and Kate Warne is the first female Pinkerton detective, a widow, and a woman with a talent for manipulation. Her ability to infiltrate places men can't go makes her an valuable asset and quickly gives her credit with the other operatives. Her versatility allows her to become many things as the situation demands. Such as a seductress, an exotic foreign medium, and a rich train passenger. But as the Civil War comes closer to her doorstep and she's asked to do what is right for her country, lines become blurred and her ability to tell the real Kate from the operative become harder. Kate takes on a job where the stakes have never been higher. With the nation's future is at risk, can Kate set aside her personal needs to do what is right?

Kate Warne has no money, she's a widow, and is left with few choices. Fortunately for her she has a quick mind and is good with manipulation. This leads her to the Pinkerton agency where she's hired as the first female detective and immerses herself in the operative life. When I first read the description for Girl in Disguise I actually thought it was complete Fiction, but would be a fun read. Turns out I was wrong, and incredibly this is a true story.

Kate Warne is a woman any 21st century woman would instantly love. She's independent, tough, and doesn't take anything from her male counterparts (or criminals for that matter). She is written as a tough lady, however Macallister reveals her softer side from time to time. The Author's Note in the back of the book reveals that much is actually not known about the real Kate Warne. She is mentioned in Pinkerton files dated in the 1870's but unfortunately the records from her time as an agent were destroyed in the great Chicago fire.

The liberties the author took with her character and other true historical figures made for a great story that the reader will wish was true. She was a true trailblazer for other women of her era and beyond. Although I wouldn't call this book something that takes you on a thrill ride as the front cover suggests, I think it does open up a new part of women's history that is worth exploring further.

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