4.8 10
by Gregory Murphy

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An elegant literary mystery set during the Gilded Age.

New York City, 1911. Representing the widow of a Wall Street financier, lawyer William Dysart travels to a small Long Island town with a generous offer for Miss Sybil Curtis's cottage and five acres of land. But when Sybil refuses to sell, the widow threatens to use her influence with the state to


An elegant literary mystery set during the Gilded Age.

New York City, 1911. Representing the widow of a Wall Street financier, lawyer William Dysart travels to a small Long Island town with a generous offer for Miss Sybil Curtis's cottage and five acres of land. But when Sybil refuses to sell, the widow threatens to use her influence with the state to seize the property.

Intrigued by Sybil's defiance and afflicted by a growing affection for her, William develops a desire to help her that becomes an obsession he cannot define, one that tears away the facade of his life, and presents him with truths he's unprepared to face.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
William Dysart, the scion of a wealthy New York family and an accomplished attorney, is married to a so-cialite who loves his money and status far more than she loves him. This situation is tolerable until he undertakes a property purchase for a wealthy widow, Lydia Billings, who wants a cottage belonging to Sybil Curtis, a mysterious young woman. Dysart becomes attracted to Curtis, who hints at Billings' dark motives in wanting her property. As Dysart begins to unravel the connections between Curtis and Billings (and falls more in love with Curtis), he uncovers an unspeakable scandal—Billings' husband had been sexually abusing the barely-adolescent Curtis for years and the cottage was the price of her silence. When he learns this, he vows to do everything in his power to protect her and help her heal, even if it destroys his career, marriage, and reputation. While the novel borrows liberally from other turn-of-the-century tales to create the hypocritical disaffected high society of New York City, Curtis' scandal is extremely modern and feels anachronistic and dissonant. Curtis is a standard maligned and damaged woman fight-ing against social forces, and Dysart is equally familiar. The scandal may be enough for readers, but this tale evokes enough hints of better literature to make readers wish for more substance.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Susan Nagel
"Incognito by Gregory Murphy is a deliciously satisfying Gilded Age mystery…. Incognito will resonate with the modern audience as a timeless study of dreams and illusions and that of desire—for beauty, for acquisition, for atonement, and for true love and happiness." --(Susan Nagel, author of Marie-Thérèse, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter and Mistress of the Elgin Marbles: A Biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin)
Yona Zeldis McDonough
"Although Incognito takes place in 1911, its concerns could not be more timely and its characters are as fresh and vivid as if they lived and breathed today. Murphy has an unerring gift for bringing the past to pulsating life…. This is a gorgeous book, beautifully rendered and deeply felt." --(Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of Breaking the Bank)
Nicola Kraus
Like Edith Wharton, Gregory Murphy brilliantly captures both New York high society's exquisite veneer and its brutish core in this compelling love story." --(Nicola Kraus, co-author of The Nanny Diaries)

Meet the Author

Debut novelist Gregory Murphy is the seventh of eleven children, raised in Amityville, Long Island. He is a playwright whose first play, "The Countess," ran Off-Broadway for two years and was also produced in London's West End and throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. He lives in New York City with his wife, the theater director Ludovica Villar-Hauser.

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Incognito 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1911 Manhattan, wealthy widow Lydia Billings hires affluent lawyer William Dysart to purchase five acres that abut her large estate on Long Island. He drives across the Queensboro but is delayed by a horse-car accident. When he arrives at his destination, William expects to see a farmer's elderly widow but meets beautiful enigmatic Sybil Curtis. She informs him she will never sell. Attracted to Sybil, William also admires her stand though wonders why his client and pressured non seller seem to loathe each other especially in light of his law firm ready to use political connection trickery and the ignorant press to further the cause of the bereaved widow of the infamous Henry Billings. As he investigates what happened to cause this animosity, his marriage to social climbing beauty Arabella unravels. He wants to make it on his salary while she prefers upper class status as offered with strings by his martinet father. Incognito is a timely entertaining pre-WWI drama that focuses on the upper class manipulating the corrupt political, legal and financial institutions to better their lives at the cost to others. William as the only seemingly ethical person in his elite circle until he meets Sybil struggles with the expectations of others like the law firm partners, his father and his wife. Gregory Murphy fascinatingly implies with parallels from a century ago that the recent excesses of America's elite may in the twenty-second century be labeled the neo Gilded Age. Harriet Klausner
anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
William Dysart, is a lawyer working on a case where he is to try a purchase some land from a young unmarried Sybil Curtis. His client will not take no for an answer, in fact she will have the property condemned in order to seize it. When William meets Sybil he is taken aback by her unwillingness to sell her property to him (Sybil realizes who really wants it) and is rather willing to be thrown out of her home than to sell. Neither woman will tell William what their previous relationship was. William can't help but attach himself to the young Miss Curtis and wants nothing more than to help her. As William struggles with his feelings for Sybil Curtis, his home life begins to unravel. His beautiful socialite wife, Arabella shows her manipulative ways making William realize she is not the woman he thought she was. His lost memories surrounding the death of his mother make him question his father and the things he's been told his whole life. All the seams of William's life begin to unravel, leaving William with truths more disturbing than he had ever suspected. This is a dramatic story of New York high society in 1911 that you will not want to put down. The further I read the more captivated I became by the story. I would have thought a man who becomes so entangled with another woman would enrage me as a married woman, but truthfully I felt nothing but compassion for William. I was absolutely fascinated with every twist and turn of the novel. The only negative about this book is I had trouble keeping a number of the supporting characters straight. I highly recommend this book!
Annettenyc More than 1 year ago
This is a glorious, luxurious novel. The historical accuracy of every detail of life in New York back in early 1900 was fascinating; the writing so elegant; the characters and their lives so absorbing. This is a great book for book club discussion since it's both mysterious, suspenseful and deals with many of the issues our society faces today. It would also make a terrific PBS Masterpiece series.
shlubin More than 1 year ago
INCOGNITO is a compelling work of historical fiction set in New York City in an era that is sharply and beautifully drawn by the author. The multiple mysteries interweave and unfold over the course of the novel, and as ugly as some of the truths are that are uncovered, their uncovering has an aesthetic beauty to it. Ultimately, although all of the characters are flawed and fragile, only one character (who we never actually meet) is "evil" -- all the rest are revealed in their complexities, and we have a kind of empathy for even the most abusive and misguided. It is a mystery, but not a simple one, and getting to the end point was a journey that I was reluctant to stop until I had reached the destination. Of course, then I was sorry there was not greater distance to go. I highly recommend this book.
Babette-dYveine More than 1 year ago
I started and finished this book in one day. I was so entranced, I just could not put it down. The plot, characters and descriptions were fascinating, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in period fiction and mysteries.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished INCOGNITO.....what a fun read! And what great characters and plot. Most historical fiction beats you over the head with reminding you of the history, morals of the time and historical locations. INCOGNITO did not do that. It reminds the reader gently of the era and morays without becoming a history class. INCOGNITO reminds the readers of class and a woman's place during the era without preaching or taking sides blatantly. And the story is brilliant. Such an interesting tangle of characters, history, morals and mystery! Using actual locations (which I am familiar with!) I was transported back 100 years and was immersed in this wonderful story! I thoroughly enjoyed it! G. Adamsen, New York City
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this book ~ couldn't put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I havent read this book but i know the person in real life so i bet this is a good book