Monday, March 20, 2017

ARC Review: Girl in Disguise by Greer Mcallister

Title: Girl in Disguise
Written by: Greer Mcallister
Published: March 21, 2017 by Sourcebooks Landmark

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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. 

Inspired by the real story of Kate Warne, this spirited novel follows the detective's rise during one of the nation's greatest times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the fate of the country.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

How could I not be super excited about reading a book about the first female Pinkerton detective? Answer, I couldn't. So I requested a copy of this on Netgalley and was excited to read when I got approved. And while it was an interesting read, it didn't totally blow me away.

One thing I did love about this book was the historical fiction aspects. I love my historical fiction to take real life people who are lesser known and fill in the details with interesting experiences and historical figures we do know. This story was primed for that as Kate Warne interacted with many well-known people and events. Not to mention that this very much felt like a historical fiction book about the American Civil War. The author definitely did her research into the period, especially what it was like for Pinkerton detectives. From a historical fiction standpoint this was great.

However, this is a book about detective so I went into the book expecting there to be a really good mystery. I expected to be along for the ride as Kate went to solve some cases. And we were song for the ride but the book took place over a very large span of time and it rushed through the cases too much for my liking. I like that we got to see every aspect of Kate as a Pinkerton detective from her training, to her cases, to her teaching and recruiting fellow females but it was a little much. I would have liked there to be more time spent on a specific case. It would have made for a much more engaging and mysterious plot to me.

I also think that the plot development and the fact that the book took place over a large period of time impacted the pacing. This is one of those stories that moved really fast but still feels confusing and a little slow. I think it just felt a little surface level to me and I wanted to see more detail. Sometimes more is less and that's what I felt like with this book. This is the second book by this author I have read and I'm realizing that is just her style. When she is telling a story she gives you a lot of little details about what is happening. It's not my favorite style but it isn't necessarily bad.

But I did however like the characters. I think perhaps this was just more of a character driven story then I was expecting. It wasn't about Kate as a detective, it was about Kate the detective. It was the story of her experience and she drove the story along. Which was okay because Kate was an interesting character. She was resourceful, intelligent, and resilient which is everything you want in a detective and a strong female protagonist. She was also complex. You got to see her mess up and get herself and others in trouble. It made her more relatable and likable. My only issue however was when they brought a sudden romance in about two-thirds of the way into the book. I could have done without that really. But all in all there were good characterizations here.

Despite some things that I didn't enjoy, Girl in Disguise was a really interesting piece of historical fiction. It had an engaging setting, complex characters, and an interesting enough story that surprisingly character driven.

I give Girl in Disguise by Greer Mcallister 8 out of 10 stars 

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. While this didn't quite live up to my expectations it was a good read. If you like historical fiction then pick this up but if you are looking for a complex mystery this is probably not the book for you.

Have you read Girl in Disguise? What did you think? Leave me with a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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