by Hannah Howe
Known as the ‘Queen of Disguise’, Annette Kerner was a leading detective in the 1940s. Born into a wealthy family, Annette trained as a mezzo-soprano with Ivor Novello’s mother, Clara, before opening the Mayfair Detective Agency in the 1920s.
Annette’s parents opposed her singing career so, aged seventeen, Annette secretly negotiated a singing contract with a nightclub in Geneva. While crossing the Channel to France, she flirted with a fellow passenger who told her that he was an intelligence officer keeping an eye on a suspected foreign agent. The passenger went on to explain that the agent’s briefcase contained vital evidence of his guilt. Eager to impress her new friend, Annette calmly stole the briefcase and presented it to him. The agent responded by contacting his London headquarters; he urged his bosses to employ Annette as a freelance, and they agreed.
Read more in our magazine