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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,421 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Stephen L. Carter Narrator: Richard Allen Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2003 ISBN: 9780736697040
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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 seaboard—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 suspicious 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • [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. Bookpage
  • 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.
  • "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. Gay Talese
  • 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. Kirkus
  • 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. Entertainment Weekly
  • 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. Fortune
  • 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.
    Booklist
  • 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
  • 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. Boston Globe
  • 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.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “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.”

    Boston Globe

  • The Emperor of Ocean Park is an intricately plotted work…A novel that is both thriller and commentary on American racial relations.”

    Newsday

  • “[A] fiercely intelligent and original work…Carter explores an astounding variety of subjects with the depth and delicacy.”

    Miami Herald

  • “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 [length]. The Emperor of Ocean Park is an outstanding work of fiction worth every penny.”

    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.”

    Contra Costa Times

  • “More le Carré than Grisham…A vivid, twisty puzzle of deceit and social commentary.”

    People

  • “[The Emperor of Ocean Park] is…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.”

    Globe and Mail (Toronto)

  • “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.”

    Time Out New York

  • The Emperor of Ocean Park is, in a word, a humdinger.”

    Fortune

  • “Like Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent it transports [you] into a different world and creates characters that resonate long after you finish it.”

    USA Today

  • “This first-rate legal thriller, which touches electrically on our sexual, racial, and religious anxieties, will be the talk of the political in-crowd.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A melodrama with brains and heart to match its killer plot.”

    Kirkus Reviews (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.”

    Booklist

  • “[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.”

    BookPage

  • Winner for the 2003 Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books, 2002
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Mystery/Thriller

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 itpdx | 2/19/2014

    " A fun read but it dragged in places. Lots of characters that keep popping up and I needed to be reminded who they were. Fortunately the author did. It is an interesting look at the east coast black upper-middle class and at university politics. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janice | 2/15/2014

    " So far I like this book because it combines several genres that I like: contemporary fiction, academic fiction, and murder mystery. I've only read about 30 pages but it has already drawn me in. Now I've finished it. I liked it a lot, though it slowed down in the middle but picked up in the end. Reminds me of my days teaching law in New Haven and vacationing on the Vineyard... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Celia | 1/27/2014

    " A smart, engaging novel. While it's a mystery, this book's strengths lie in narration and character development. It was nice to read a book with an African-American as a normal protagonist (i.e. no condescension or pedestal). I was amused by the portrayal of legal academics grasping to get ahead at a thinly-disguised Yale Law School. I'm looking forward to Carter's next fictional work. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shoehn | 1/17/2014

    " I found all of Stephen L. Carter's books to be very good. The characters are richly drawn and Carter is a terrific writer. I wish he would write more! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gene Ayres | 1/16/2014

    " A truly excellent read, by my hands down African American writer and one of our best. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Olivia | 1/12/2014

    " a mystery wrapped with race, economics and politics...very nice "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Adam Kesner | 1/9/2014

    " took forever to go nowhere. by the time anything happened, i didn't really care. I think i finished it out of spite. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Thomas | 1/9/2014

    " long and melancholy novel written from the point of view of the son of a Great Black Conservative. Are liberals little more than time/place reactionarie to human nature? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary Joy | 1/3/2014

    " Good thriller/beach read. He has a new one out that Id like to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leticia | 12/31/2013

    " This was a great book written by an ivy league professor (his first foray into fiction) and it's pageturner. It's based in Washington, D.C. and New England areas. About a man's father, a judge, who is murdered and leaves clues to a mystery that he knew only his son could solve, to find his killer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim Behringer | 12/13/2013

    " Strong characterization, good language! Author used the fact that the lead character knew information that the reader didn't, so when the author something that meant something to him, the reader is not always aware of the fact till later. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Wendy Curtis | 12/7/2013

    " Audio book (abridged version). Good writing and a good little mystery. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brooke | 12/1/2013

    " This slowly unraveling, multi-layered mystery kept my attention, with an interesting dose of sociological commentary. 4 stars vs. 5 only because this 600+ page novel could have benefited from a healthier dose of editing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erica Nicole | 10/25/2013

    " Entertaining with subtle but intriguing characters! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cindi | 4/2/2013

    " I liked this book, but at points I just wanted to get done with it. A little disappointed in the ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie | 2/26/2013

    " A good book, twists that surprised me and kept me interested! It was a race to finish it in a week for book club, but I made it (with 3 hours to spare!)! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gina | 12/14/2012

    " Aside from an amazing sub-plot that explored the families dynamics, this was truly one of the best contemporary books I have read. I recommend it to all of my literary loving friends and those who normally don't read with an accompanying thesaurus and dictionary. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Terrie | 10/13/2012

    " This book was a piece of crap!! The main character is such a wimp that I wanted someone actually to kill him. That would have been the best thing about the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Damon | 10/7/2012

    " I'm not usually one for suspense but this book kept my interest because of how well the characters were done. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amerydbaker | 3/29/2012

    " I could not finish this book. I read 250 pages but could not get into it. I have heard it is a good book but... boring to me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Teresa Sullinger | 2/6/2012

    " I thought the book was a bit wordy, then the author would mention something pertinent to draw me back in. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karina | 10/29/2011

    " good for MV vacation reading "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sherry | 10/7/2011

    " It was a mystery novel. Was okay. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Terry Downing | 8/3/2011

    " A good read. A little slow at the beginning but gets better from the half way point. Well written with a twist for the ending. Would recommend for yhose whose like Grissom but not as fast paced. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin | 5/8/2011

    " I found myself reading this until 4am in order to finish it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 5/8/2011

    " A bit long-winded at over 800 pages, but an entertaining read nevertheless. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie | 3/12/2011

    " A good book, twists that surprised me and kept me interested! It was a race to finish it in a week for book club, but I made it (with 3 hours to spare!)! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aj | 3/4/2011

    " An extremely well written thriller. Highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 The Reading Cove | 2/11/2011

    " 57th: THE EMPEROR OF OCEAN PARK by Stephen L. Carter
    Trivia Winner - Sally

    ~COVE OPINION: B, Great story "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine | 2/3/2011

    " While a bit too long on description, and the pessimism of the protagonist, the plot thickens and does keep your interest. An intricate story with lots of characters to keep track of, but worth the effort. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Martha | 1/30/2011

    " Very interesting. I will check out for more by this author. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Terrie | 1/21/2011

    " This book was a piece of crap!! The main character is such a wimp that I wanted someone actually to kill him. That would have been the best thing about the book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen | 1/3/2011

    " Good, but I felt it was too long. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kellyann | 12/15/2010

    " Carter has good instincts for language and suspense, but is way too verbose. This book would have been better had it been 200+ pages shorter. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sandyboy | 12/10/2010

    " a simple thriller / whodunnit that takes an age to get anywhere. so damn slow. good once you've read it but the pace is almost painfull "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charles | 12/1/2010

    " Big book, took a while to get into it, but once I did it was hard to put down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 J. | 11/28/2010

    " A very cleaver Who Done it fiction...
    Very well written... "

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About the Author
Author Stephen L. Carter

Stephen L. Carter, also known as A. L. Shields, is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University and the author of seven nonfiction books. He and his family live in Connecticut.

About the Narrator

Richard Allen is an accomplished and respected theatrical actor whose work includes Ragtime and PBS’ Great Performances: Play On! His voice can be heard on numerous television and radio productions, as well as the animated series Jumanji. Allen is also the winner of seven AudioFile Earphones Awards.