Sunday, June 26, 2011

Incognito-Gregory Murphy

Gregory Murphy
Berkley, Jul 5 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9781101516560

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

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