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Extended Audio Sample The Emperor of Ocean Park, by Stephen L. Carter Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.48 out of 53.48 out of 53.48 out of 53.48 out of 53.48 out of 5 3.48 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Stephen L. Carter Narrator: Peter Francis Jame Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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An extraordinary fiction debut: a large, stirring novel of suspense that is, at the same time, a work of brilliantly astute social observation. The Emperor of Ocean Park is set in two privileged worlds: the upper crust African American society of the eastern seaboard—old families who summer on Martha’s Vineyard—and the inner circle of an Ivy League law school. It tells the story of a complex family with a single, seductive link to the shadow lands of crime.

The Emperor of the title, Judge Oliver Garland, has just died, suddenly. A brilliant legal mind, conservative and famously controversial, Judge Garland made more enemies than friends. Many years before, he’d earned a judge’s highest prize: a Supreme Court nomination. But in a scene of bitter humiliation, televised across the country, his nomination collapsed in scandal. The humbling defeat became a private agony, one from which he never recovered.

But now the Judge’s death raises even more questions—and it seems to be leading to a second, even more terrible scandal. Could Oliver Garland have been murdered? He has left a strange message for his son Talcott, a professor of law at a great university, entrusting him with “the arrangements”—a mysterious puzzle that only Tal can unlock, and only by unearthing the ambiguities of his father’s past. When another man is found dead, and then another, Talcott—wry, straight-arrow, almost too self-aware to be a man of action—must risk his career, his marriage, and even his life, following the clues his father left him.

Intricate, superbly written, often scathingly funny, The Emperor of Ocean Park is a triumphant work of fiction, packed with character and incident—a brilliantly crafted tapestry of ambition, family secrets, murder, integrity tested, and justice gone terribly wrong.

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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 of the 2003 Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize for Fiction
  • A 2003 Audie Award Finalist
  • 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

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Gina | 5/25/2011

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by 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 by 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 by 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!)! "

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