July 12, 2017
Ah, yet another instance of children's books making me smarter (and better at trivia games). KATE WARNE: PINKERTON DETECTIVE by Marissa Moss, illustrated by April Chu (Creston Books, 2017) tells the fascinating story of the first female detective in the United States.
We've all heard of the Pinkerton Detectives, but I'm sure most of us have a visual of men in suits and hats, not a young woman in a corset (Note: this originally read corset and a bustle, but I checked with Marissa Moss and she informed me bustles were not worn at that time. AGAIN, getting smarter through children's lit).
At first, Pinkerton was reluctant to hire her, he did not think it was work that a woman could do. Kate was ready for his objections. "...it's precisely the sort of thing a woman should do... As a woman, I can go places your male agents can't. A criminal may confide in his wife or lady friend. And those women will talk to another woman. Not to a man."
In 1856, the Pinkerton Agency was given The Adams Express Case, in which $40,000 was embezzled or stolen from pouches. The pouches were all locked (numerous times) and no one person had all the keys, so where had the money gone?
There were a couple of suspicions, but no proof, and how to get that proof when no one can find the money?
Well, I"M not going to tell you how it was done, you have to read the book for that!
I WILL tell you that the case could not have been solved without Kate's ideas and undercover work, so, not only was Kate the first female detective, she helped solve the case that made the Pinkerton Agency's stellar reputation.
To add to the depth of this book are the illustrations by April Chu. As a non-artist, I am not quite sure how to describe the page layout, some are in thirds, some are split screen, all draw the reader further into the story. The end papers, filled with wanted posters and early versions of mug shots, get the story started as soon as the book is opened.
Honestly, I cannot recommend this book enough. History, mystery, womenstry (sorry, I was on a roll) it's a fun, challenging (I couldn't figure out the mystery) and informative read.