The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan

The Detective's Assistant by Kate Hannigan

It is important to provide children with a variety of experiences that will enhance or expand their curiosity to learn and escape in stories that fuel the imagination, and feed the desire to know more. History can be just a set of facts and dates, but historical fiction brings the dates, events and people to life providing a new perspective that can encourage more investigation.  Such is this audiobook up today for review., a story about Kate Warne, the first female detective with the Pinkerton Agency  during the mid 1800’s.

The Detective’s Assistant

Nell has had a series of losses: shootings, fevers, scaldings and various other maladies have taken all of her family but for her aunt, Kate.  Left unceremoniously at her aunt’s door, Nell has to find a way to make herself indispensable, while causing no trouble for an aunt who doesn’t really want her or the memories of her family, and is busy in her own pursuits. Her work often involved disguise and travel, and the girl would just be in the way.

Nell, however, has the ability to parse conversations, notice things that would be concealed from adults, and her memory is wonderful.  She’s more than able to find and remember important details that aid her aunt in her investigations.  But, she knows that only by discovering the real reasons behind the death of Aunt Kitty’s husband will endear her to Kitty, and perhaps remove some of the dour and pinched outlook Kitty has for the world, and her in particular.

Fast paced, Nell will steal your hear with her clever phrasing, her insightful comments and her zest for learning more. At just eleven, Nell is far older than her years would indicate, and her willing ness and delight in each new mystery, each disguise and revelation are truly wonderfully written and expressed.  Insets of actual pre-civil war history including slavery, the Underground Railroad and the Baltimore Plot and Abraham Lincoln.  Most intriguing is the correspondence between Nell and her friend Jemma, who with her family have moved to Canada. As free blacks, they ostensibly had freedom, but the threats from slave catchers and less-than-honest bounty hunters is one to avoid.  Through their correspondence, we see the practice of codes and ciphers, details about Abolitionists and the elements integral to the Underground Railroad.

Narration for this story is provided by Christine Lakin, and her presentation is spot-on, character voices are distinct and clearly enunciated and pleasant to listen to.  Emotions are clearly presented without overwhelming the text, while the subtle inflections, pauses and pacing help to provide a context for the words that could be challenging for the target audience.  Smooth presentation keeps this fast-paced story with plenty of action and adventure clear to follow, and the neat insertions of historical facts and descriptive asides help to build imagery that is easy to grasp and relate to.  A wonderful example of history coming to life: solidly grounded in the mid-1800’s social conventions and language, approachable by the easy reading style and captivating heroine Nell.

Stars: Overall 4 Narration 4 Story 4

The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan

Title: The Detective's Assistant
Author: Kate Hannigan
Genre: Historical Fiction, Children's Literature
Narrator: Christine Lakin
Published by: Hachette Audio
ISBN: 0316403512
Published on: 7 April, 2015
Source: Hachette Audio
Pages: 368
Audio Length: 6 Hours: 29 minutes
Rated: four-stars
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The incredible tale of America's first ever female detective and her spirited niece!

Eleven-year-old Nell Warne arrives on her aunt's doorstep lugging a heavy sack of sorrows. If her Aunt Kate rejects her, it's the miserable Home for the Friendless.

Luckily, canny Nell makes herself indispensable to Aunt Kate...and not just by helping out with household chores. For Aunt Kate is the first-ever female detective employed by the legendary Pinkerton Detective Agency. And Nell has a knack for the kind of close listening and bold action that made Pinkerton detectives famous in Civil War-era America. With huge, nation-changing events simmering in the background, Nell uses skills new and old to uncover truths about her past and solve mysteries in the present.

Based on the extraordinary true story of Kate Warne, this fast-paced adventure recounts feats of daring and danger...including saving the life of Abraham Lincoln!

A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Kate Hannigan

I live in Chicago with my family – my husband, three kids, and noisy but wonderful Australian shepherd. I love Chicago for its tall buildings, friendly neighborhoods, and amazing food (Indian! Thai! Ethiopian! Guatemalan! Lebanese!). I'm all grown up now, but over there on the right is me in the fourth grade.

Most days you can find me taking walks with my dog along the lakeshore or amid the tree-lined streets around the University of Chicago campus. When our family really needs some outdoor time, we head off to Western Michigan, where there's plenty of fruit-picking–peaches, blueberries, cherries–along with fun times hiking, biking, and beach-going. You can probably guess why I set Cupcake Cousins there!

haven't always lived in Chicago. I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I was able to ride my bike all over the neighborhood and play outside from morning to night. I've always liked words and stories, so I worked on school newspapers all the way to high school. Then I went off to college to study journalism.

I still love research and writing, only instead of doing it for a newspaper, I do it for young readers. Besides the Cupcake Cousins books from Disney-Hyperion, I've written a historical novel for middle-grade readers called The Detective's Assistant. And I'm always working on other projects like picture books, biographies, and other novels for children.

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