Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Girl in Disguise” as Want to Read:
Girl in Disguise
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Girl in Disguise

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  3,733 ratings  ·  728 reviews
Kate Warne is 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, a rich train passenger-all depending on the day and the robber, thief, or murderer she's been a ...more
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published March 21st 2017 by Sourcebooks Landmark
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Girl in Disguise, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Ramona I agree with you. A better title would be "Woman in disguise" as Warne was definitely not a little girl in the story. Even something that pointed to h…moreI agree with you. A better title would be "Woman in disguise" as Warne was definitely not a little girl in the story. Even something that pointed to her being the first Pinkerton, unless that was a copyright infringement of something. Despite the title, the cover caught my eye, I read the book in one evening...and loved it...mostly...the ending caught me by surprise. Too sad!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,733 ratings  ·  728 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Girl in Disguise
Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister is a 2017 Sourcebooks Landmark publication.

‘Someone has to go first’

This is a biographical novel based on Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective.

I enjoyed reading this fictional account of Kate’s life, how she convinced Pinkerton to hire her, how she eventually garnered the respect of the other detectives, trained other female operatives, and became a spy during the civil war.

What a fascinating life!

Yet, it would seem Kate was often conflicted a
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued to discover that this excellent piece of historical fiction is based firmly in historical fact. The main character, Kate Warne was really the first ever female operative employed by Pinkerton's Agency in Chicago in the mid 1850s. She must have been a truly remarkable woman and this book goes a long way towards demonstrating that.
I love reading about historical detective work. It always seems charmingly naïve compared with the gritty stuff we read about in today's world. Kate spen
I received a copy of Girl in Disguise through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Sourcebooks and to Greer Macallister for the opportunity.

"Do your business, but don't make no trouble."

Well, "trouble" is Kate Warne's middle name. A recent widow of a man never loved and a wandering soul herself, Kate Warne approaches Allan Pinkerton of Pinkerton National Detective Agency. It's 1856 in ol' Chicago and our girl has a lot of convincing to do. Pinkerton has never hired a female operative and
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
Check out all of my reviews at:

GIRL IN DISGUISE by Greer Macallister is a historical fiction book based on the life of Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton agent. I always love to read about the “first” females in any role and this being the first detective agency in the U.S. made it sound even more interesting. Kate’s story is perfectly suited to be told in as a historical fiction due to the fact that a lot of the actual paperwork from her time in the Pinkerton ag
♥ Sandi ❣
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 1856. Not only Allan Pinkerton, but Chicago has their hands full when it comes to Agent Kate Warne's detective sleuth. Unaccepted initially by her co-workers - all male - Warne is a force to be reckoned with. Through thick and thin she remains stoic,
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
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, despit
Karen R
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“I’d already applied to every possible position appropriate for a lady. Only the inappropriate ones remained.” Kate Warne

Thank you, Greer McAllister! Because of you, I discovered the inspiring and trailblazing Kate Warne - the first female operative of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. I loved everything about scrappy and smart Kate and her determination to become a successful detective.

Thank goodness Mr. Pinkerton saw something special in Kate after she walks into his office looking for a job. K
Laura Rash
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm not usually a huge fan of historical fiction but this was written in such an entertaining, quick witted fashion that it was hard to not become absorbed immediately. Kate Warne is a unique woman & truly brought to life on these pages. Excellent read! ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life
2017; Sourcebooks Landmark

Girl in Disguise is based on a true story. Kate Warne talked her way onto Pinkerton's team and proves to a powerful tool for the organization. With this novelization we get more of Warne's personal background - though I am not sure how much of it is fact. I liked this novel but at times I felt like there were gaps and other times the story dragged on - it made the pacing awkward at times. I would recommend this novel for any one wanting to know more about
Cindy Burnett
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
Girl in Disguise is the story of Kate Warne, the first female detective hired by the Pinkerton Agency. Her story is fascinating and inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed the history of the Pinkerton Agency, and its involvement in various historical figures and incidents including Abraham Lincoln. Greer Macallister makes the characters come alive while teaching the reader a lot about the Civil War era. My only quibble is that I would have preferred a slightly different ending. I cannot say more without ...more
Aug 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Girl in Disguise is a fictional account of the career of Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective. This first person narrative reads like a casebook of Mrs. Warne, and although the narrator tells us a lot, it is difficult to feel connected to her through this novel. In real life, there is very little known about Warne's personal life and many of the Pinkerton records were lost in the Chicago fire in 1871. She was close enough to Allen Pinkerton to be buried in his family's cemetery, but ...more
Karen Whittard
Dec 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Thank you to NetGalley, sourcebooks landmark, and Greet Macallister.

You will find my review on both Goodreads and Amazon. On Goodreads from today under my name of Karen Whittard and on publication date on Amazon under my name K.e.whittard.

I want to start this review by saying I simply love the way this book is written. It reads like a noir film narrative. If you can imagine a dark detective noir style film like the American Horror series Hotel and the way it is narrated and filmed you will hav
The Shayne-Train
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This was an extremely interesting look into the life of the first female Pinkerton agent, Mrs. Kate Warne. Well-written with truly fleshed-out characters, you follow Kate through her decision to become the first female operative ("Someone HAS to be the first"), through her training, and into her professional life. Regular investigative case-work turns to war-time intelligence gathering, and there are both triumphs and tragedies aplenty.

I really enjoyed this book. Both the time-period (just pre-C
Kate Quinn
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Girl In Disguise" is a love story between a woman and her job. I'm a sucker for books like that, and thoroughly enjoyed this one, happily following alongside the resourceful Kate Warne as she makes her way through hostile 1850s Chicago, first getting herself hired as Pinkerton's first female detective, then getting sent out on a variety of jobs ranging from the dangerous to the absurd, finally landing up to her neck in Civil War espionage. A page turning yarn with a heroine to root for. ...more
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's important to note that Kate Warne is a real person, and though the story is fictitious, she truly was an amazing woman.
She was the first female Pinkerton agent, and held her own in a male dominated world. "Someone has to be the first". Many of the events in the story are historically accurate and I am amazed by the harrowing situations she reveled in. The setting is in the 1850s, prior and throughout the civil war and I was captivated by a time, and situation that I knew nearly nothing abo
Rhiannon Johnson
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read my full review here:

When I read the second book by an author I love, I always hold my breath, but I wasn't let down with Girl in Disguise! I am a person who writes in my books (among us book lovers I know that people are very divided on that!) and I underlined so many witty quips and comebacks by the main character. Just like with The Magician's Lie, Macallister hooks the end of every chapter to keep you reading well after when you thought you'd stop
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Who would have thought that the Pinkerton Detective Agency actually hired a female detective back in the 1850s? I certainly never did! This fast-paced and suspenseful historical novel is based on the life of that first female Pinkerton, Kate Warne, and she is a fascinating and vividly-drawn character. With a keen mind and a knack for disguises, she quickly becomes an integral part of the Pinkerton team, although it takes a while for her fellow detectives to accept her. This book will be perfect ...more
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.

3.5 stars. When I picked up Girl in Disguise I was expecting a mystery novel, but this turned out to be more solidly in the historical fiction category. I also wasn't aware that it
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
More reviews at

With Girl in Disguise, Greer Macallister brings us a rip-roaring heroine caught up in a tense and fast-moving world. I read the book in just over 24 hours, which is not normal for me. Definitely a fun, unputdownable choice!

Kate Warne is a widow in Chicago just before the Civil War. She’s not interested in the typical jobs available to support herself. Good thing, because they wouldn’t have made for such an interesting book. Instead, Kate applies for an operativ
This book caught my attention because I loved the idea of a novel about Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton agent, and I just hoped the writing, plot, and characters would be as good as the premise. I knew from the first few pages they would be.

Excellently written with great characters, fictional and historic alike, the plot takes the reader into the spy world of the Civil War. I did feel as though the romance was a little superficial, but otherwise, I felt the character development was very
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Girl in Disguise" is a fictional book based on the life of Kate Warne, the first woman detective hired by the famous Pinkerton Agency back before the American Civil War. She walks into the Pinkerton agency to ask for a job, wows Mr. Pinkerton himself, and goes on to become one of his finest operatives. Her career takes her all over the US and spans decades, though most of the book occurs during the Civil War while she is spying for the Union Army as part of her Pinkerton duties.

I finished readi
May 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, bea16
It was a good book, but it didn't quite end up being what I was hoping.

The story read more like a biography in the sense that it covered Kate's entire career (or at least a big portion of it). We're talking like 10+ years. This made me feel a little distanced from the book and the characters. (view spoiler)
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Kate Warne shows up at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago to answer the advertisement for operatives.  
While Allan Pinkerton has never even considered the idea of hiring a female operative, he's impressed with Warne, who makes a valid point:

"Sir, here is the crux of it. Women can go places men are not welcome. They can win the trust of other women, the wives and companions to whom the criminals have confided their crimes. They can travel in genteel circles to insinuate themselves
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the very first page I knew I was going to enjoy this book, and I wasn’t deceived. This read is a thrilling historical escape. We don’t see women often enough in daring roles circa 1850. For Kate Warne (who’s not a fictional character), to have walked into the Pinkerton Detective Agency and demanding to be an operative was truly extraordinary, and certainly unheard of. From there, I’m sure the author took license to fictionalize many details of her life, because little is known about Kate Wa ...more
Lynda Loigman
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In her second novel, Greer Macallister gives us a glimpse into the dangerous and fascinating life of Kate Warne, the very first female Pinkerton detective. Because I had no prior knowledge of Kate to draw upon, I held my breath throughout the descriptions of her adventures, many of which were based on actual cases.

Macallister’s novel is so well-researched that we feel as if we are there alongside Kate, from the streets of Chicago to an evening in Baltimore helping to thwart an assassination att
Terri Wino
Sep 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: year-2017
I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend if you like historical fiction. This book was based on Kate Warne, the real-life first female detective to work for the Pinkerton Agency. I found the fictional Kate a scrappy, complex character who certainly doesn't give up easily when facing a challenge.

My only complaint -- and reason I didn't give a fourth star -- is the book felt a bit rushed to me. As if too much was trying to be crammed in too short of a book. As a few other reviews have
Scott  Hitchcock

I really liked the start of this. A time piece set in the mid 1800's with the first Pinkerton female detective. From there however I became bored and disinterested.
Maine Colonial
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical, novel
My book club chose this and it will be interesting to see what the group thinks. It was in the barely OK camp for me, despite the inherent interest of the subject. The idea of the first woman Pinkerton's agent joining the company in the 1850s seemed to me to be a can't-miss topic, but this author took what should have been a riveting based-on-a-true-story premise and sucked the life out of it with a pedestrian writing style and a scattered narrative.

Even though the novel is written in the first
Erika Robuck
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Review to come on publication.
Maureen DeLuca
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved this book- as far as historical fictions goes , this was one hell of a read..... !!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • De winter van de profeet
  • The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
  • Band of Sisters
  • A Scam in the Ashram: The Most Controversial Travel Book You Will Ever Read (Terry's Travels 2)
  • Fox Crossing
  • You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism
  • No Witness But the Moon
  • The Ivory Swing
  • The Girl from the Channel Islands
  • Lady of Horses (Epona, #1)
  • White Mare's Daughter (Epona, #3)
  • King and Goddess
  • Queen of Swords
  • Avaryan Rising  (Avaryan Rising, #1-3)
  • Deception by Gaslight (A Gilded Gotham Mystery #1)
  • Murder at the Mena House (A Jane Wunderly Mystery #1)
  • Forever Yours (Letters in Blood, #3)
  • The Hex Witch of Seldom
See similar books…
Raised in the Midwest, Greer Macallister earned her MFA in creative writing from American University. Her debut novel THE MAGICIAN'S LIE was a USA Today bestseller, an Indie Next pick, and a Target Book Club selection. Her novels GIRL IN DISGUISE (“a rip-roaring, fast-paced treat to read” - Booklist) and WOMAN 99 (“a nail biter that makes you want to stand up and cheer” - Kate Quinn) were inspired ...more

Related Articles

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” That’s Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani human rights...
65 likes · 20 comments
“I chose not to care. And if it scared me at first how easy it was to make myself feel differently about something by simply deciding it, I decided I could ignore that too.” 6 likes
“I was beginning to suspect that the main difference between rich women and whores lay mostly in the accessories.” 1 likes
More quotes…