In his triumphant fictional debut, Stephen Carter combines a large-scale, riveting novel of suspense with the saga of a unique family. The Emperor of Ocean Park is set in two privileged worlds: the upper crust African American society of the Eastern seabord—families who summer at Martha’s Vineyard—and the inner circle of an Ivy League law school.
Talcott Garland is a successful law professor, devoted father, and husband of a beautiful and ambitious woman, whose future desires may threaten the family he holds so dear. When Talcott’s father, Judge Oliver Garland, a disgraced former Supreme Court nominee, is found dead under suspicioius circumstances, Talcott wonders if he may have been murdered. Guided by the elements of a mysterious puzzle that his father left, Talcott must risk his marriage, his career and even his life in his quest for justice. Superbly written and filled with memorable characters, The Emperor of Ocean Park is both a stunning literary achievement and a grand literary entertainment.
"Among the most remarkable fiction debuts in recent years…[The Emperor of Ocean Park] is full of musing about God, family, chess, the politics of Supreme Court appointments, loyalty, unhappy marriage, the media, depression, race, and academic infighting…[Carter] is a scholar and a lawyerly commentator who has penned a rip-roaring entertainment."
"The year's hottest summer read and a surefire bestseller…Carter does for members of the contemporary black upper-class what Henry James did for Washington Square society, taking us into their drawing rooms and laying their motives bare…However The Emperor of Ocean Park is categorized, beach reading doesn't get any better than this."
–Time Out New York
"The Emperor of Ocean Park is a delightful, sprawling, gracefully written, imaginative work, with sharply delineated characters who dwell in a fully realized narrative world…Carter deserves comparison with such successful practitioners of the crime novel as Scott Turow."
–The New York Review of Books
"The Emperor of Ocean Park is an intricately plotted work…a novel that is both thriller and commentary on American racial relations."
–Dan Cryer, Newsday
"[A] complex literary thriller. Carter deftly weaves together several strands, from the relationships of father and sons and husbands and wives to the politics of the Nixon and Reagan eras."
"The Emperor of Ocean Park is no ordinary fiction debut…Carter has produced a thoroughly original mystery-thriller…that also explores the brave terrains of race, family, power, paranoia, and the law…If I may join the hype, The Emperor of Ocean Park rules."
–Book Street USA
"[A] fiercely intelligent and original work…Carter explores an astounding variety of subjects with the depth and delicacy."
–The Miami Herald
"[The Emperor of Ocean Park] is one of the hottest items of the summer, one of the most discussed books of the year. It provides insight into the world of the African-American haute bourgeoisie…and does so with a sophistication and elegance of language that makes much of it a joy to read."
–The Globe and Mail
"Yes, this combination mystery/social commentary/thoughtful introspection is long. But the characters are masterfully developed, and its gripping story, elegant writing and skillful illumination of a segment of society that has been notably absent from popular fiction more than justify its 657 pages. The Emperor of Ocean Park is an outstanding work of fiction worth every penny…If you read only one book this summer, make sure it's this one."
–The Sunday Star-Ledger
"Stephen L. Carter's debut novel, "The Emperor of Ocean Park," is a marvel: a deeply satisfying thriller that is as careful with character as it is with conspiracy…This is an exhilarating summer read that will be remembered long after the season is over."
–Contra Costa Times
"Poised to become the biggest book of the summer."
"This reader hasn't inhaled a novel so rich, rewarding and compelling since Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full. Like Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent it transports the reader into a different world and creates characters that resonate long after you finish it…The mystery aspects had me reading the book at stop signs while driving."
–Deirdre Donahue, USA Today
"More le Carré than Grisham . . . a vivid, twisty puzzle of deceit and social commentary."
–V.R. Peterson, People
"The Emperor of Ocean Park is, in a word, a humdinger."
"This first-rate legal thriller, which touches electrically on our sexual, racial and religious anxieties, will be the talk of the political in-crowd this summer."
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Fascinating. . . . [A] suspenseful tale of ambition, revenge, and the power of familial obligations. . . . An elegantly nuanced novel, with finely drawn characters, a challenging plot, and perfect pacing."
"A novel of great originality and insight: a saga of an African-American family of affluence and privilege forced to reckon with their misadventures and crimes. But Carter's novel also explores, perhaps for the first time in recent memory, a less familiar vision of the black experience in America: one of pride and optimism, and possibility. I've never read a book quite like it, and I enjoyed it very much indeed."
"This sleek, immensely readable first novel is custom-designed for the kind of commercial success enjoyed by John Grisham's The Firm 11 years ago. . . . With great skill, Carter builds toward a series of climaxes that explode over the final 150 pages. Few readers will refrain from racing excitedly through them. A melodrama with brains and heart to match its killer plot. . . . Irresistible."