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Publisher's Summary

Set in the era of the Nixon and Reagan presidencies, this novel examines the American conscience while inviting us into the glittering world of the East Coast legal community. Stephen L. Carter's book follows black Ivy League law professor Talcott Garland as he investigates the death of his father, Judge Oliver Garland, the eponymous "Emperor."

When Judge Garland received a Supreme Court nomination, a nationally televised humiliation forced his withdrawal, a scandal from which he never recovered. Now his sudden death hints at an even more terrible scandal that links this privileged Martha's Vineyard family to the shadowlands of crime. To follow the clues left by his father, Tal risks everything, and uncovers a tapestry of ambition, family secrets, and justice gone terribly wrong.

©2002 Stephen L. Carter; (P)2002 Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A thrilling read, driven by a cocktail of plot and character." (The Observer)
"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall

Not a bad book but where was the editor?

A decent storyline and plausible characters but way to long and repetitive. This book could easily have been condensed in half without reducing the value. I found myself not really listening especially the 2 middle parts and in hindsight it might have been better to get the abridged version.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Terry
  • Kells, Co MeathIreland
  • 06-05-04

Long, drawn-out and not particularly satisfying

This is a curious book - it's not really a thriller as the plot is too thin and there's little action. But then it's not really a literary novel either, which is what it seems to have pretensions to be. As others have commented, the narrator evinces littles sympathy. In fact, none of the characters does. A more self-centred, obnoxious bunch you'd be hard-pressed to find. Where the book works best is in the description of a troubled marriage and the narrator's relationship with his three-year-old son, but this has precious little to do with driving the plot along. There's some good writing scattered throughout the book, but there is way too much padding and pointless meanderings. The abridged version is almost certainly a better bet - this is one title that could be cut to a third of its length without harm.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • Winston Salem, NC, USA
  • 01-14-05

Oh my goodness put me out of this misery

Do not waste a book credit or even 37 cents on this audio book. The plot has some interest at times, but, goodness it goes on forever along tangents that are incomprehensible. The author wrote some wretched dialog and I'm still trying to figure out why the law professor husband didn't just sue and divorce his adulterous wife. Character development was non existent. I never did listen to the end and I don't even care.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

not for everyone

it is interesting to see the wide spread of opinions about this book. people seem to love it or hate it, and I am firmly in the first camp. Yes, the book is long, but what a fascinating world the author presents. I was thoroughly engrossed and grew fond of the protagonist despite (or perhaps because of) his foibles. Can't wait to read the author's second book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Wore me out.

At first I liked this book because the narrator was so unlikeable - smug, self-centered, clueless - and yet because of his obvious weakenesses I identified with him. And it is so rare to see an unlikeable narrator in genre fiction. But as the book went on and on, the narrator's ponitification (his presentation of pet peeves as dire warnings of social decay) wore me out. Ultimately, what could have been an enjoyable and informative read, became an apologia for self-serving and passive melancholy.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Slow. Very slow, and not very interesting.

Reading The Emperor of Ocean park is an exercise in endurance. It is a very long listen by any standard (26 hours!) which is made even longer by a plot that develops at glacial speed and the flat personality of the main character. The descriptions of places and characters are unnecessarily belabored. There are very few "aha!" moments for the reader. The final scenes (the final hour or so) pick up a little steam, start flowing a little better and holding your attention a little more, but the ending was, in my opinion, disappointing.

If you are interested in gaining a view into the "glittery lives of Ivy League professors, etc. etc." (paraphrasing from the publisher's description), perhaps this would be an interesting read -- but it may feel more like homework.

If you are looking for complex characters, a suspenseful plot that leaves you hanging and eagerly waiting for the next chapter, and a shocking finale... look elsewhere.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Outstanding

The Emperor of Ocean Park is an excellent book, both suspenseful and rich in characters. The narrator does an outstanding job, as well. I would highly recommend this audiobook.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Wasn’t sure about this

I wasn’t sure about this book. Whoopi Goldberg raved about it on The View. But then I listened to it and I loved it! The reading was flawless and the story exciting.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • AlTonya
  • DAVIDSON, NC, United States
  • 08-23-17

Wanted To Like It More...

I really wanted to give this book more stars. I actually listened to the audiobook as opposed to reading it and had I read a printed version, I'd have probably skipped over a great deal of it. I found it to be a fascinating story, though somewhat overwritten-the repeated 'darker nation' and 'paler nation' descriptors got to be rather grating after a while. I adore stories with lots of characters and had hoped Mr. Carter would've made better use of his large cast in the outcome of the story which I found to be rather anti-climactic. Overall a very long story that would've been more dynamic with just a few editorial tweaks.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Still a masterpiece

I love this read (listen) just as much the second time around, as when I read the hardcover when this was first published in 2002! Excellent performance by the narrator. He brought all of Mr. Carter's flawed (but enticing) characters to life, better than I imagined could be done. Bravo!