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Extended Audio Sample The Emperor of Ocean Park, by Stephen L. Carter Click for printable size audiobook cover
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:
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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

  • 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.”


  • “[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.”


  • “[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.”


  • “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.”


  • “[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.”


  • 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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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! "

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