The Emperor of Ocean Park Critical Essays

Stephen L. Carter

The Emperor of Ocean Park

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Stephen L. Carter, a Yale University law professor and distinguished legal and cultural critic, has published several acclaimed nonfiction works, including The Culture of Disbelief (1993) and God’s Name in Vain (2000), both of which address issues concerning the role of religious belief in legal and political discourse. The Emperor of Ocean Park, his first work of fiction, is a compelling and thoughtful tale of political corruption, divided loyalties, and a quest for a family secret.

Talcott Garland, a middle-aged law professor at an Ivy League college, finds a cryptic note from his recently deceased father that instructs him to locate certain hidden arrangements. The note also warns that others will be seeking the arrangements. Talcott’s search pits him against FBI agents, hired thugs, and a suspected international criminal, whose attempts to recover the mysterious arrangements resemble an elaborate and deadly game of chess.

As Talcott continues to unravel the mystery left to him by his father, his personal and professional lives begin to crumble. His wife, a potential candidate for a federal judgeship, resents his increasingly erratic behavior and perceives it as a threat to her advancement and to their marriage. Talcott’s colleagues at the law school feel that he is neglecting his academic duties and bringing unwanted attention to the school. Talcott soon discovers that the stakes in his pursuit of the truth about his father are more than he can risk, as his life and the lives of his family and friends are threatened by his insistence to uncover the truth about his father’s arrangements.

Sources for Further Study

Black Issues Book Review 4 (May/June, 2002): 28.

Booklist 98 (April 1, 2002): 1283.

Ebony 57 (October, 2002): 24.

Library Journal 127 (April 15, 2002): 123.

The New York Review of Books 49 (June 27, 2002): 4.

The New York Times Book Review 107 (June 9, 2002): 11.

Publishers Weekly 249 (April 22, 2002): 45.

Weekly Standard 7 (June 17, 2002): 43.