Girl in Disguise
Publication Date: March 21st, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Review copy: Netgalley
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?
Today is International Women's Day. More power to all the strong, loving, generous and kind women in the world. It's just fitting that a book about a very strong, skilled and intuitive woman is what I am featuring today. Girl in Disguise is a historical fiction based on the first woman spy.
I thought Mrs. Pollifax was the most amazing spy ever but before her, there was Kate Warne. A widow, who was desperate for an employment, convinced Mr. Pinkerton to take her in as the first woman private investigator. The first woman to embark on a world dominated by men. She was underestimated and was told she won't do but she challenged Mr. Pinkerton to test her by sending her on a real assignment, and if she succeeds, he will have no choice but hire her. To Mr. Pinkerton and all of the detective agency's astonishment, she succeeded and got on board to start her training. Much to Mr. Pinkerton's delight and shock, a lot of assignments require the finesse and intuition of a woman. So, the rising career of Kate Warne lifted off until she had to lead and train her own group of women operatives to answer to the rising needs of the agency and of the changing times in Chicago and the whole US.
Kate Warne's uncanny and exceptional talent in seeing what's not obvious that eludes even the most attentive person and her strong intuition, inherent only to a woman, has made her one of the most instrumental characters in keeping Abraham Lincoln alive and ultimately contributing to the end of the Civil War. Apart from this two exemplary exploits, she also had other assignments that added to her badge as a seasoned, resourceful and dependable Pinkerton operative. Her missions took her to various parts of Chicago and all over the US, solving mysteries and exposing secrets that are even too deadly for strong-bodied men to accomplish. She had proven that being a woman is not a weakness but rather an asset. An asset that is often overlooked and underestimated which could only prove deadly because nobody sees what is coming.
She had her own share of hurts and pains, heartaches and being powerless to stop the death of her beloved. Kate Warne was one of those first women who had broken the walls that separate men from women. She had proven that women are not limited by their gender, or weak, to be able to perform whatever task a man can do - just like being a spy, to wear disguises, infiltrate secret societies and ferret out valuable information right out of the horse's mouth.
The only reason I am not giving this a perfect rating is because there were parts that were a bit dull. A narrative of sorts that seemed to be long-winded. I think it was in a way necessary to get an understanding of the succeeding events. I don't fault the author for that but I just wished it maintained the same pace and energy throughout the whole book. Nevertheless, it was still a good read. For one who is an avid reader of thrillers and mysteries, this book can hold its own.
I give this book 4/5 sealed envelopes. This book is a good example of women empowerment. Books that celebrate women, heroines and strong characters that broke through stereotype. Happy Women's Day everyone! This is a salute to all the extraordinary and amazing woman in the world. Whether you are a mother, a teacher, or whatever your struggles are, you deserve respect, love, and understanding. Who rules the world, girls?
We are all misrepresenting ourselves to each other after all. To live in this world daily was to traffic in the business of leading other people astray.
- Greer McAllister, Girl in Disguise -
Raised in the Midwest, Greer Macallister is a poet, short story writer, playwright and novelist whose work has appeared in publications such as The North American Review, The Missouri Review, and The Messenger. Her plays have been performed at American University, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. She lives with her family in Brooklyn.
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