The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter
published May 2003
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 suspicioius 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.
(see part 1 of my thoughts on this novel here)
July 5, 2011
I’m about halfway through the second section of the novel, and I am still impressed with its depth and intelligence. I am enjoying the story, but I also feel like I am getting mini-classes on a whole range of topics, from the judicial system to chess to inter-racial politics. I haven’t read a work of fiction that I feel like is teaching me so much in a really long time.
The characters’ relationships continue to be intense and challenging, but I have found one character I truly admire – finally! – which always makes me feel a bit more comfortable in a novel. Reverend Morris Young has the potential to play a pivotal role in Misha’s life, and I hope we get more of him than just that one chapter. I also feel a bit like I went through a crash marital counseling course reading his wise advice:
“…treat Kimberly as you would want to be treated. You do remember the Golden Rule? Good. You think your wife should give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps you should do her the same courtesy. Kimberly is your wife, Talcott, not a suspect in some crime. Your job is not to catch her in lies. Your job is not to prove you are better than she is. Your job is to love her as best you can.” (pp. 303-304.)
The mystery is also ramping up – a bit more danger, a bit more excitement, a few more important pieces of information. I still for the life of me cannot figure out where this particular mystery is headed, or how these pieces of information will ever join together to make sense, but it’s interesting to see where the author is headed.
July 9, 2011
I’ve just finished the second section of the novel, and I can officially now say it has become a page-turner. I feel like I have blown through the past 100 pages – we are learning more and more about the Judge’s life, and while we still don’t know what the “arrangements” are, the hints are getting bigger and bigger, and more and more dangerous.
I think, too, as we reach the final section of the book, that it has become more a traditional mystery – we are focusing less on the relationships, and more on the actual question of what the Judge was up to, and that makes the novel easier to read. It’s still technically an incredibly well-written novel – now we just have more action to balance out the narrative.I’m excited to start the final section – I am completely hooked, and can’t wait to finally discover the secrets that have been hinted at throughout the novel.