Did you know that Pinkerton’s hired the first lady detective? Her name was Kate Warne, and her story is partly told in the delightlful and touching middle grade novel The Detective’s Assistant, by the lovely Kate Hannigan.
There are so many wonderful things in this story. A few who worked on the Underground Railroad, even giving their lives. A redemption story, a young lady growing up and realizing who she is, and a few good mysteries.
And the ending made me tear up. Little Nell finds redemption for her Daddy, a swearing, drinking man of “questionable character,” as her Aunt seems to think.
She finds a family.
She finds something she can do.
She finds out the real reason her Daddy died.
And she helps save Abraham Lincoln’s life.
Nell Warne is fictional, but Kate Warne is as real as Abraham Lincoln. I think it is a very clever technique to tell the story of a famous person or should-be famous person through the eyes of a young hero that you want to use as the point-of-view for your children’s, middle-grade, or young adult novel.
There were a few other reasons for my tears at the end of the book. Realizing that a woman helped saved Abraham Lincoln’s life in the first assassination attempt. Realizing that if she had not died of pneumonia at the age of 35, Lincoln might not have been assassinated at the end of the war (Allan Pinkerton called her the finest detective he had), and realizing that Allan Pinkerton’s son changed the course of history when he closed down the women’s department at Pinkerton’s. This made me sad and mad.
This is such a great read! It should be in every household library with children or young adults.