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The Emperor of Ocean Park (2002)

by Stephen L. Carter

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1,722404,112 (3.54)39
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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
The Emperor of Ocean Park is a legal thriller involving a law professor, Talcott Garland, whose father was a prominent judge who was disgraced after being nominated for a Supreme Court chair by Ronald Reagan. The judge's nomination ended in disgrace because of his association with Jack Ziegler, a former CIA agent turned organized crime kingpin. After the judge dies, he leaves Talcott with cryptic clues involving some deep dark secret that Talcott must figure out, with a host of others either trying to help or prevent him from doing so.
This novel was certainly competently written. The author, a law professor, knows his legal wrangling, and there is enough action and tension to keep it interesting, but there were other things that kept it from being a good novel instead of just an okay one. For one thing, through two thirds of the book, everyone seemed to know more about the mystery than Talcott, and it didn't make sense that if they knew more about it than him, then why were they so reliant on him to find what the judge was leaving behind instead of finding it on their own. The other issue was that the reveal at the end wasn't as earth-shattering as all of the drama leading up to it. It was a bit of a yawner, in fact. A solid novel, but not one that you should go out of my way to read.
Carl Alves - author of Blood Street ( )
  Carl_Alves | May 18, 2013 |
This book was recommended to me and initially it seemed promising. The problem was the further I read, the less I cared about the main character. Something was missing and the ending just fell flat. Not something I would suggest be picked up. ( )
  zumanity | Apr 30, 2013 |
My first experience with an audio book and it was horrible! It's my fault for not paying attention to the abridged part...but still! Abridged audio books should NOT be allowed. Totally ruined this book for me. I was so bored! It felt like half the book was missing...probably because it was! ( )
  melissarochelle | Apr 14, 2013 |
compare carter's 64 "emperor" chapters to eco's 120 "pendulum" (1989) chapters. ( )
  applemcg | Dec 2, 2012 |
Thick, dense, deeply ambitious and richly layered, this is one of the more rewarding reads I have experienced in a long time. The plot unfolds slowly, requiring patience, and the characters are extremely flawed and, frankly, not very likable. This novel will not be for everyone, but I found it to be a fantastic read. ( )
  NeedMoreShelves | Jul 10, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Yet this is not a novel exclusively about politics or even about blacks maneuvering in a white world. It is at its center a book about the pleasures and miseries of family life, and the scenes in Talcott's house, the pauses and silences and evasions and eruptions when one spouse is having an affair and the other isn't, are very well done; similarly, the tensions between brothers and sisters; and the comfort and coherence an intelligent preacher can bring to the disconsolate; and at the end, a realization that it's wise to draw a line between past and present, due diligence be damned.
added by SimoneA | editNew York Times, Ward Just (Jun 9, 2002)
 
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Epigraph
Deux fous gagnent toujours, mais trois fous, non!
(Loosely: Two fools always win, but three fools, never!
-Siegbert Tarrasch

(Note: The chess piece Americans call the bishop, the French call "le fou".)
Dedication
For Mom, who loved a mystery, and for Dad, who is not in this one: I love you both, always.
First words
When my father finally died, he left the Redskins tickets to my brother, the house on Shepard Street to my sister, and the house on the Vineyard to me.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375712925, Paperback)

A complex, smart mystery filled with intrigue, drama, and more than a little danger awaits in Stephen L. Carter's engaging debut novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park. After the funeral of his powerful father (a federal judge whose nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court became a public scandal), Talcott Garland, an African American law professor at an Ivy League university, is left to unravel the meaning of a cryptic note and carry out "the arrangements" his father left behind. Armed with fortitude and familial devotion--though paranoid of his wife's fidelity--Talcott soon finds himself in an investigation that entangles him with a number of questionable Washington, D.C., denizens, including attorneys and government officials, law professors, the FBI, shady underworld figures, chess masters, and friends and family. All the while Talcott tries not to hurt his attorney wife's chance for a judicial nomination--and their fragile marriage--but the closer he comes to unraveling his father's dark secrets, the more dangerous things become.

Clocking in at over 650 pages, the novel could easily have been streamlined; many of Talcott's thoughts are unnecessarily repeated. But Carter's storytelling skills are adept: tension builds, surprises are genuine, clues are not handed out freely. The prose, while somewhat meandering, can be crisp and insightful, as demonstrated in Carter's description of the misguided paths of young attorneys who sacrifice

all on the altar of career... at last arriving... at their cherished career goals, partnerships, professorships, judgeships, whatever kind of ships they dream of sailing, and then looking around at the angry, empty waters and realizing that they have arrived with nothing, absolutely nothing, and wondering what to do with the rest of their wretched lives.
--Michael Ferch

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:21 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"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 shadowlands 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 a 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 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."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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