cover image The Widow Spy

The Widow Spy

Megan Campisi. Atria, $28.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-66802-485-0

Campisi follows up Sin Eater with a gripping and richly imagined mystery set during the American Civil War. At the outset, Pinkerton investigator Kate Warne—the real-life first female detective in America—captures Confederate spy Rose Greenhow, who holds the cipher key that could end the Civil War. After taking Rose captive, Kate is tasked with gaining the woman’s trust and handing over the key to Union forces before Confederate leaders learn Rose has been compromised and change it. It’s no easy task: Kate and Rose are at odds over every conceivable political issue from slavery to class relations, and Kate worries that her illicit interracial romance with Black Pinkerton agent John Scobell could make her vulnerable to blackmail. In the novel’s fierce and frank first-person narration, Kate tries to crack her captive and poignantly reflects on her own personal history, including the death of her immediate family, her escape from starvation in Ireland, and the brutality of factory work in America (which she experienced before meeting Allan Pinkerton and becoming an investigator). With piercing prose and a nimble balance of emotion and suspense, Campisi expertly melds the best of historical mystery with top-shelf literary fiction. Amy Stewart and Sarah Waters fans, take note: this is a must-read. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, Susanna Lea Assoc. (Apr.)