From the acclaimed author of High Dive comes an enveloping, exultant novel of New York City at the turn of the twentieth century, a story of one man's rise to fame and fortune, and his mysterious murder.

Andrew Haswell Green is dead, shot at the venerable age of eighty-three, when he thought life could hold no more surprises. The killing--on Park Avenue, in broad daylight, on Friday the thirteenth--shook the city. Green was born to a poor farmer, yet without him there would be no Central Park, no Metropolitan Museum of Art, no Museum of Natural History, no New York Public Library. And Green had a secret, a life locked within him that now, in the hour of his death--alone, misunderstood--is set to break free. As the detective assigned to Green's case chases his ghost across the city, we meet a wealthy courtesan, a brokenhearted man in a bowler hat, and a lawyer turned politician whose decades-long friendship with Green is the source of both his troubles and his joys. A work of tremendous depth and piercing emotion, The Great Mistake is the story of a city transformed, a murder that made a private man infamous, and a portrait of a singular individual who found the world closed off to him--yet enlarged it.
“Jonathan Lee’s wily, virtuosic, very beautiful new novel is an intimate portrait of a public man that also serves as an X-ray of America. The Great Mistake is a great novel of New York, in which the shaping of public space becomes inextricable from the loneliness, longing, and ferocious ambition of a single, damaged man.” —Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
 
“Jonathan Lee is so enviably talented it leaves the reader breathless. The Great Mistake is an unparalleled feat of elegance and craftsmanship. Lee’s 19th-century New York City is riveting, immersive, but best of all, it’s an immaculate blend of scale: he masters both the grand historic narratives and gritty intimate details. As envisioned by Lee, the life of Green feels emblematic of the New York City he built: ambitious, fraught, thrilling, and ultimately visionary.” —Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter
 
“Few writers working today have Jonathan Lee’s range or eye for detail. Fewer still are capable of roaming minds and histories with such bittersweet, richly detailed ease, or taking on with such profound depth all the messy, hilarious, heartbreaking humanity of a person, and a time, and indeed an entire city. The Great Mistake is a wonder and a delight.” —Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger’s Wife

“A wonderful, compelling, finely-tuned and deeply loveable novel, with a central character who is all of those things too. Jonathan Lee has taken the bare facts of a nearly-forgotten life and turned them into a rich and unforgettable story, told with a relish for language and voice. Mr. Andrew Haswell Green now has permanent lodgings in my brain, and very welcome he is too.” —Jon McGregor, author of Reservoir 13
 
The Great Mistake is a great novel of 19th-century New York and the meaning of success, which makes the quietest moments of its hero’s life as memorable as the bordellos and the murders. A magical escape from the 21st century that sent me back feeling wiser and more hopeful.” —Sandra Newman, author of The Heavens
 
“Like Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams and John Williams’ Stoner, Jonathan Lee peels back a forgotten layer of history to investigate longing and loneliness in the shape of a single man. The Great Mistake joins the ranks of Sarah Perry’s novels, and Colm Tóibín’s The Master, in lighting up the past, recreating Old New York—like Francis Spufford’s Golden Hill—with an exuberance that transcends mere history. It is a remarkable book, a herculean construction that will prove lasting.” —Katy Simpson Smith, author of The Everlasting 

“Jonathan Lee is quietly becoming one of the best young novelists on either side of the Atlantic. The Great Mistake is a sweeping historical novel that is also a gripping mystery.”—Alex Preston, The Observer (UK)
 
“Rich and riveting . . . A triumph of humane historical portraiture, and one of the finest and most pleasurable New York novels I have ever read.”—Dan Sheehan, LitHub