True Crime for Middle-Graders: KATE WARNE PINKERTON DETECTIVE

Mystery Month 2017Lynn: We love finding picture books for Mystery Month! Kate Warne: Pinkerton Detective (2017) by Marissa Moss is not only a picture book biography of the first woman detective, but tells the story of Warne’s role in a pivotal case that helped establish the reputation of the Pinkerton Agency. It’s true crime for the middle-grade set!

Not much is known about Kate Warne’s early life. We know she needed a job when she answered Alan Pinkerton’s newspaper ad for a detective. Dubious at first, Pinkerton hired Warne and put her to work immediately on the Adams Express Case: $40,000 disappeared from four different packages handled by a company that specialized in transporting money and valuables around the country. An arrest was made—but the evidence and the missing money was nowhere to be found, so Warne was sent in to make friends with the suspect’s wife. The story chronicles Warne’s steps toward solving the puzzling mystery.

kate warne pinkerton detectiveCindy: April Chu’s sepia-toned illustrations work nicely for the era and she sets the mood with Wanted posters on the endpapers. Shifting perspectives, close-ups, and pronounced facial expressions draw the readers’ eyes and force them to be as observant as a good detective.

As for Warne, she lived up to her early reputation and eventually became one of Pinkerton’s top detectives, training other female sleuths and managing the Washington, D.C. Pinkerton office during the Civil War, during which she spied on the confederacy. Curious readers who want to investigate further should read this list of 10 Things You May Not Know About the Pinkertons. Investigate our post from last year about a fictionalized Kate Warne featured in middle-grade novel The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan.

 

 

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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