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Girl in disguise by Greer Macallister

Girl in disguise

by Greer Macallister

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Girl in Disguise, a book about the first the first female Pinkerton detective did sound like a fantastic book idea and I was thrilled to read it. I especially liked that the book is inspired by the real life on Kate Warne, a female Pinkerton detective who sadly we don't know much about.

I think the book started off good, with Kate Warne getting a chance at Pinkerton to prove that she has what it takes to be a Pinkerton detective. Her trials and tribulations you could say to prove that, despite being a woman, or actually because she is a woman that she could be a detective since she clearly demonstrated that some roles, well sometimes it takes a woman to do some jobs. However, I saw right from the start the obvious romance that would without any doubt occur later on in the book and to be totally honest that made me not that happy. I'm not against romance in books, well, not always, but in this case, it just didn't rub me the right way. Probably because I've seen it so many time before, man meets a woman, they dislike each other, but then they feel that they can't deny their growing attraction and wham bam thank you, mam!

Girl in Disguise is just not my kind of book, I even took a month long break from it and had a hard time getting inspired to return to it. It was not totally bad, I just felt that the characters never really came to life and that the storyline was too predictable in certain aspects. When the obvious romance part happened towards the end did my interested in the book fizzle out. I mean it's Civil War going on, and it should be a dangerous and intensive time for Kate and the rest of the Pinkerton, but I never felt that. Even when the story did take a surprise turn towards the end of the book did I feel anything for the characters. I was just bored.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review! ( )
  MaraBlaise | Apr 14, 2017 |
Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister is based on the real life of the first female Pinkerton agent, Kate Warne. It is 1856 in Chicago, Illinois and Kate Warne needs a job. She is a widow with little in the way of funds. In response to an advertisement, Kate arrives at the offices of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Kate is interviewed by Allan Pinkerton who states that they do not hire women. She asks him for an opportunity to prove her worth by solving a case. If she can close the investigation, Kate will get a position. Pinkerton agrees and gives her an opportunity to recover money stolen from First Eagle Savings Bank. With a little assistance, Kate is successful and gets her position as the first female Pinkerton agent. Unfortunately, her fellow agents are not as welcoming as Allan Pinkerton. Kate sets out to learn the skills she needs to be a successful agent and prove to the men that she is an asset. We get to follow Kate as she learns her craft and shows how valuable female agents can be to the agency. Kate is so successful that Pinkerton needs to start a Female Bureau of Detectives, and he wishes Kate to head it. This is a great opportunity for Kate, and she embraces the challenge. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Kate feels her services are more valuable in the field. Kate’s skills could prove vital to the country during this time of upheaval. But life is not all rosy for Kate. Pick up a copy of Girl in Disguise to find out what happens to Kate Warne.

Girl in Disguise is a slow starter, but it gets better the further I got into the story. The novel is nicely written, and I did find it appealing. I wish, though, that the author had focused on Kate’s joining the Pinkerton agency and maybe one or two cases. Kate’s life would have made a great series. Each book could have focused on a new case. The novel starts in 1856 and takes us through the end of the Civil War. I was dissatisfied with the romance portion of the book and how it affected Kate. It just did not seem to go with her personality or behavior prior to this point. I give Girl in Disguise 4 out of 5 stars. The book, in a way, reminds me of a biography. But it lacked the depth you would find in one. We do not get enough details on Kate and her life as an agent. It is a superficial overview. I would have loved more details especially when she first started out as an agent. It is supposed to be a fictionalized account, so I wish the author had pushed it a little further. The ending was a bit of a letdown. It would have been nice if the author had included an epilogue showcasing the end of Kate Warne’s life. I am interested in finding out more information about Kate Warne and her life. I know that little information on Kate and her activities survived the Chicago Fire of 1871, but I hope to find more details than were available in Girl in Disguise. If you enjoy reading historical novels, check out Girl in Disguise. ( )
  Kris_Anderson | Mar 20, 2017 |
A history buff I am not, therefore I had no idea about Kate Warne who was the first female Pinkerton detective. When I saw the synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it. This is a fictional account of what her life could have been like. There is little known about Kate Warne as most of the Pinkerton files were destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871. What is known about her is the bones of this story. The rest is a fictional re-telling but I found the story to be realistic and a rattling good tale.

Kate is portrayed as a woman who has tried everything and has moved on to trying everything else. She is written with a lot of moxie and grit as she has to prove herself to Pinkerton and the agency employees. It was not an easy road to traverse and you find yourself connected to the story from the start.

This story is told over a series of years as we follow Kate through the ups and downs of becoming a detective. It is told in first person narrative and this story does not just focus on her job. We get an entire story with a fleshed-out character. She has feelings, she reflects on the morality of her choices, she has hopes and desires.

I adored reading this story because it felt real! She was not written as a superwoman who just steamrolled her obstacles and came out a winner. She has great wins in her career as well as great losses. Her background was carefully written and gave a nice platform for her character development. This is a book that I highly recommend to all readers!

This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating. ( )
  TheGenreMinx | Mar 13, 2017 |
When one thinks of the famous Pinkerton detectives, one imagines nondescript but serious men, intent upon their mission, able to blend into any background, and devoted to justice. I always imagine them as the human equivalent of bloodhounds. In Girl in Disguise, Greer Macallister puts faces to the nameless detectives but also introduces someone much more interesting, the first female Pinkerton detective.

Joining the agency during a time when women, especially gentile women, did not work, Kate Warne must prove herself to her fellow agents. The distrust and animosity she faces is by no means surprising and not unlike the opposition women still face when entering what has been traditionally deemed a male career. Through her trials and early cases, not only do we get to imagine the difficulties she faced, but we also get a picture of the work the Pinkertons actually did and their methods for solving their cases. It is fascinating information for anyone with any interest in detective work.

Having not read Ms. Macallister’s first novel, I have no idea of knowing whether this is her writing style or not, but the writing in Girl in Disguise is clunky. The descriptions are effective but less than elegant, and the character development, while minimal, is anything but subtle. To make matters worse, the story, especially in the beginning, has no apparent plot but jumps from vignette to vignette. One gets the distinct impression that the novel is nothing more than reminiscences because there is no seamless transition from one scene to another. It is only upon the dawning of the Civil War where the story smooths into something with a distinct plot and genuine conflict.

Yet, in spite of all of that, Kate is an appealing character and one that captures your interest regardless of the writing style. She is a take-no-prisoners type of gal, and her devotion to her craft is extraordinary. While one never feels any danger on her behalf, her exploits are nevertheless thrilling and suspenseful. After the first few cases, the lack of fluidity between her stories matters not a whit as you are thoroughly engrossed in her work. Moreover, the few scenes where she is deep undercover provides a compelling glimpse into the psychology of such work and even greater insight into the work of the famous Pinkertons.

Given the dearth of resources regarding this remarkable woman, Ms. Macallister does a tremendous job gleaning as much as she can from the few sources available to her and balancing that with the fictional filler. Even if half of what the story says is true, there is no doubt that Kate Warne was a remarkable woman who was not afraid to break the severest of gender boundaries. Immensely readable and highly enjoyable Girl in Disguise makes you proud to be a woman and confirms the fact that we can indeed do anything we want.
  jmchshannon | Mar 2, 2017 |
Kate Warne, a widow who was also abandoned by her con-artist parents, applies for a job as a Pinkerton agent in 1856 Chicago. Allan Pinkerton is reluctant to hire a woman but a test case reveals that Kate's skills could come in handy. Though she never feels truly accepted by most of the male agents, Kate is proud to use the abilities she reluctantly learned from her parents to achieve some good. When Pinkerton's agency is called on to investigate traitors in the war, Kate's job becomes extremely dangerous but more important than ever. A fascinating depiction of a real-life woman who blazed a trail for female investigators and spies in the United States. Similar to Girl Waits With Gun but with a more serious tone. ( )
  bookappeal | Dec 12, 2016 |
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