The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter

The Emperor of Ocean Park, by Stephen L. Carter, (2002) is the story of Talcott (Misha) Garland, an African American law professor at an Ivy League college, who is left a cryptic note from his father, Oliver Garland, upon his death, which just might have been a murder. The family has never quite recovered from the scandal that destroyed Judge Garland’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, and now Misha’s wife Kimmer, who he suspects is unfaithful, is undergoing her own investigation for a judgeship. Judge Garland’s old friend Jack Ziegler, a former CIA agent suspected of being an organized crime boss, is interested in the mysterious “arrangements” the Judge left for Misha, as is the FBI, and several shady men who begin to follow him. Unfortunately Misha has no idea what these arrangements are. Misha’s nickname comes from his early talent for chess, and chess references begin each section. This huge (654 pages) and complex book is far more than a murder mystery, raising issues of racism, classism, politics, and the essential loneliness of the individual. Highly recommended.

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