Moss tackles an important incident in the life of Kate Carter—aka Kate Warne—the first female professional private detective in the United States.
Accompanied by Chu’s historical-period visuals, Moss begins with Allan Pinkerton’s hiring of Kate Warne, an ambitious, adventurous white woman who talks her way into the job, before getting to the nub of this story: Warne’s undercover work in disentangling the theft of $40,000 from a courier’s secure pouch. The sinuous trap laid by the detectives involved in the case—all Pinkerton men and one Pinkerton woman—is colorful enough to withstand the necessarily telegraphic narrative that Moss employs to fit the story into picture-book format. There is double-dealing and spying and subterfuge, close calls and traps and brain work, melding the story into a thriller and highlighting the talents and qualities that a woman brings to what is misconceived as a man’s job. Moss has picked a special moment in time as well as a special woman, spelled out in an author’s note: Pinkerton’s beginnings marked the turning of detective work to professionals. In Chu’s sepia-toned illustrations, Warne wears a determined expression, matched by the scowls of the villains, which recall such great historical yarns as The Great Train Robbery.
A cinematic treatment of derring-do and yet another testament to the importance of women in the historical evolution of the United States. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)