Summary and book reviews of Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister

Girl in Disguise

by Greer Macallister

Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister X
Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2017, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2018, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Davida Chazan
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About this Book

Book Summary

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?

CHAPTER ONE
THE FIRST DISGUISE

August 1856

Like any Chicago tavern in deep summer, Joe Mulligan's stank.

It stank of cigars smoked the week before, months before, years before. Tonight's smoke pooled against the basement ceiling in a noxious cloud. I acted like I smelled only roses. The woman I was pretending to be would have done the same.

I was also pretending the sharp tang of men's sweat surrounding me didn't terrify me. These were not good men. But I wasn't a good woman, not tonight. My mission was to ignore the smoke and the sweat, blind a bad man with a wicked smile, and wring out his secrets. There would be no second chance.

So I breathed as shallowly as I could and made my way through the crowd to the bar. Men's bodies brushed mine, hips and hands and God only knows what, lingering on my shoulder and everywhere below. My nerves frayed, and I stumbled. With anything less at stake, I would have fled Joe Mulligan's as if it were on fire. But I ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
1. Widowed and without job prospects, Kate answers a newspa- per advertisement for a job as a Pinkerton operative. What do you think she would have done if Pinkerton hadn't agreed to hire her?

2. Kate is unsentimental about the death of her husband, Charlie. Did you find this surprising? What did you suspect was the reason for her unusual detachment?

3. When Graham DeForest meets Kate, he is flirtatious and solicitous, and Kate believes he is a ladies' man. When she follows him to practice her surveillance skills, she finds this is definitely not the case. Did you suspect his secret?

4. Kate has many good qualities that make her an excellent operative, but she is also impulsive and judgmental. What do you think her ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

...[T]his is precisely the type of novel to read if you want to get your pulse racing. However, that isn’t the only reason to read this book, because it also reminds us that America has a rich history filled with remarkable women. While some of these women worked for the greater good as champions of many worthy causes, others were outstanding by virtue of their struggle to succeed as individuals and professionals, on their own merits in a man's world. What a pleasure to learn about one of these women, especially one we know so little about, through Macallister's eloquence and artistry!   (Reviewed by Davida Chazan).

Full Review (626 words).

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A celebration of a singular woman's life that's guided by facts but features some inviting imaginings.

Booklist
Macallister's story is a rip-roaring, fast-paced treat to read, with compelling characters, twisted villains, and mounds of historical details adeptly woven into the tale of a courageous woman who loves her job more than anything or anyone else.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Loaded with suspense and action, this is a well-told, superb story.

Author Blurb Amy Stewart, New York Times bestselling author of Girl Waits with Gun
Electrifying...a rollicking nineteenth-century thrill ride.

Author Blurb Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train
Inspired by a real-life story, Greer Macallister has created a fast-paced, lively tale of intrigue and deception, with a heroine at its center so appealingly complicated that she leaps off the page.

Author Blurb Rae Meadows, author of I Will Send Rain and Mercy Train
From the underbelly of Chicago to the front lines of the Civil War, Girl in Disguise crackles with spirit, and the trailblazing Kate Warne is a character I would follow anywhere. In Macallister's confident hands, this novel is packed full of adventure, moxie, and heart. I dare you not to get hooked.

Author Blurb Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue
If you love historical fiction, you're going to devour Girl In Disguise. The time, the place, the girl – this book takes you on a thrill ride with the first female detective, making her way by pluck and luck through the seedy streets of 19th century Chicago, finding her place in a male-dominated world

Author Blurb Sarah McCoy, New York Times and international bestselling author of The Mapmaker's Children
All hail a mighty woman in a man's world! Greer Macallister aims her pen at Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective, and hits the mark with this rousing, action-packed adventure.

Author Blurb rika Robuck, national bestselling author of Hemingway's Girl
Macallister is becoming a leading voice in strong, female-driven historical fiction. Exciting, frightening, and unspeakably moving.

Reader Reviews

DJCMinor

An Excellent Historical Novel
Greer Macallister has taken the few facts known about Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective, and has created a compelling story. Macallister uses what little is known about Warne to give readers a picture of a female detective 1856 and ...   Read More

Michael Haughton

disguise in girl by Greer Macallistet
This is a perfect book in regards to how one can become an undercover agent. The beginning of the first chapter show how well the writer's talent had on exploring women subtlety with men. Although a bar was mainly a place for men, the writer shows ...   Read More

takingmytime

First Female Pinkerton
This novel was inspired by the real life of Kate Warne. In the style of Amy Stewart's Girl Waits with Gun series or Emily McCabe's I Shall Be Near to You, Greer Macallister does a fine job of making you visualize the first female Pinkerton agent in ...   Read More

Sandi W.

Fiction based on Fact
This novel was inspired by the real life of Kate Warne. In the style of Amy Stewart's Girl Waits with Gun series or Emily McCabe's I Shall Be Near to You, Greer Macallister does a fine job of making you visualize the first female Pinkerton agent in ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The History of Fictional Female Detectives

Many great novels start with a premise, which mirrors or takes inspiration from something in real life. In Greer Macallister's Girl in Disguise, the inspiration is the real-life Kate Warne, the first female private detective who began her career with Pinkerton's in 1856. Learning about her made me wonder which came first – did the concept of creating a woman detective rise from some writer's fertile imagination, or was Warne the inspiration for the first fictional female sleuth?

The Female DetectiveAccording to the website Crime Fiction Lover, in 1864 Andrew Forrester (aka James Redding Ware) invented Mrs. Gladden as the protagonist of his The Female Detective series of adventure stories. This appears to be the first English language fiction to feature...

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