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The Emperor of Ocean Park    by Stephen L. Carter order for
Emperor of Ocean Park
by Stephen L. Carter
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

The Emperor of Ocean Park is a big book, in more ways than one, and it deserves to be widely read. Dr. Carter provides us a rare window into black middle-class lives, treating us to his views on law, politics, racial relations and religion. All of this - as well as a many-branched mystery that takes a long time to resolve - makes for quite a scholarly work.

Talcott Garland, the second son of the family, has been given the job of understanding his deceased father's admonition to take care of the arrangements. Since Talcott hasn't the foggiest notion what these arrangements, are and only finds out they exist from a powerful crime figure, he must begin a journey of discovery. On the way, besides unraveling the mystery, he must try to help his wife win an Appeals Court nomination, keep his own career intact, and fight off several attempts on his life.

A sly, pleasurable humor runs through the book, and we are fascinated to see how Talcott decodes all the clues while learning much himself. As he puts it, 'I was crying over all the good things that will never be again, and the way the Lord, when you least expect it, forces you to grow up.' A minor quibble is the too-often repeated Why-did-you question Talcott has for everyone involved when, for the most part, he knows why and just isn't telling. This is a complex novel with loads of characters but well worth a read. Highly recommended.

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