Book Review: Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister

Title: Girl in Disguise

Author: Greer Macallister

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fiction, Adult

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Published: March 21, 2017

Page Amount: 320 pages

Goodreads Summary: For the first female Pinkerton detective, respect is hard to come by. Danger, however, is not. In the tumultuous years of the Civil War, the streets of Chicago offer a woman mostly danger and ruin-unless that woman is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective and a desperate widow with a knack for manipulation. Descending into undercover operations, Kate is able to infiltrate the seedy side of the city in ways her fellow detectives can’t. She’s a seductress, an exotic foreign medium, or a rich train passenger, all depending on the day and the robber, thief, or murderer she’s been assigned to nab.

Why Read: To be quite candid, I’m not entirely sure of when I decided I wanted to read ‘Girl in Disguise.’ It seems to me like one of those books that I got excited about namely because of the strong female lead. Kate Warne may be drawn in a fictional sense in this book, but she was a real person and a real Pinkerton agent  (and you have to admit – that is pretty cool).

Review: The history that we read about in our textbooks is, for good or bad, often dominated by men. Who was the president at this time or another? What general led the army into war? They are all men. That’s not to say women don’t play an important if often understated role in how history has unfolded. They are the whisperers in backrooms, the influences behind the decisions of their husbands or paramours. Kate Warne was no backroom dealer. Well… well she was. She was the first Pinkerton agency woman detective. This book is a fictional account of her life.

While the book may be fictional, the story is riveting right from the onset – and it doesn’t slow down. Each chapter is a page-turning experience where you, the reader, watch as she defeats challenge after challenge with the sass and poise of a champion. What makes the story so intriguing is that most of the information is true. The dialogue is fictitious but each situation could be real, each character and triumph of Kate just as possible.

As an American history nerd, I sometimes even forget that the Pinkerton agency was instrumental in defending Lincoln. Who could remember the detective agency that played such a role in the spying and history of the Civil War? Obviously me. It’s a great read and a peek into life as the first female detective of the well-known Pinkerton agency. Many of the challenges she faces have to do with life in the 1800s but simultaneously, women are still faced with the same sexism and condescension in the workplace today. The times might change but the battleground for recognition remains the same.

So give it a read. You won’t be disappointed!

Rating: 4.8/5 Stars

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