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The Detective's Assistant: 09/29/16
The Detective's Assistant by Kate Hannigan is inspired by the career Kate Warne as the first female detective for the Pinkerton agency. To make the book more approachable for tweens, the book includes a fictional niece, Nell.
Through Nell the reader gets a chance to experience first hand Kate's most famous cases. Nell learns how to wear disguises and crack codes. She learns how to gain the confidence of people around her to gather important information.
Tucked into the book are some coded messages. While Kate Warne did work with coded messages and intercepted them from criminals, I'm not sure they were always as simplistic as they are in this book. The ones here can be solved with minimal work. For those disinclined to solve them, there is a solution in the back of the book.
As I've said before, I'm not sure a book aimed at child readers needs a child protagonist. While Nell's story of being an orphan and being shipped to the city to live with a very modern aunt is a compelling story, it gets in the way of Kate's own accomplishments. Her groundbreaking work is put against the context of the grumpy and eccentric aunt.