Stephen L. Carter's first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park, was published in 2002, but this Yale Law School professor had been writing significant, memorable nonfiction for more than a decade already. Like its predecessor, New England White touches on issues of race, class, and influence. At the center of the novel are college president Lemaster Carlyle and his wife, Julia, a deputy divinity school dean. This sympathetic couple represent a new breed of prominent, well-connected African Americans who navigate with ease in the mainly white power structure. Their security begins to wobble dangerously as Julia investigates the hidden motive behind a murder in their community. A well-crafted literary novel that grapples with serious social and ethical issues.
"Like a modern-day version of sociologist E. Franklin Frazier, Carter casts a critical light on the lifestyles of the black and privileged."
The Washington Post
"But in the 500-plus pages of New England White, he's up to more than suspense and the gothic apparatus — including coded anagrams and cracked mirrors — he wields with considerable aplomb. For one thing, he has spiked his thriller with wryly affectionate campus satire, somewhat in the vein of Randall Jarrell's Pictures From an Institution. ... The plot of New England White is also sufficiently expansive to allow room for some serious thinking about the progress of "the darker nation" at a time when neither political party has much time for the intractable challenges of race and poverty, and when “as far as white America knew, nobody black ever had money or education before, say, affirmative action.”"
The New York Times
Turpin's reading of Carter's second novel is sublime. In a book where each character's race is important, capturing that fact for the ear alone is a balancing act to be taken quite seriously. The story opens with a body found on the roadside by Julia Carlyle and her university president husband, Lemaster (both had minor roles in Carter's The Emperor of Ocean Park). It turns out to be an ex-lover of Julia's and a possible blackmailer of Lemaster. What ensues is a gripping tale of race, murder, politics, conspiracy theory and secret societies that revolves around a 30-year-old case involving a dead white girl and an accused, now dead, black attacker. Turpin's prowess in the aural world is apparent, not only when nailing regional accents but in much more subtle ways, like a conversation between two women of roughly the same age who are clearly distinguishable from each other by one's slight smoker's rasp. The story is literate and fast-paced, and Turpin's well-rounded characters keep the fire fueled. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, May 7). (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Murder splits apart a staid New England university town, where university president Lemaster Carlyle and his wife, dean of the divinity school, are African Americans in a sea of white folk. With a 14-city tour and a reading group guide. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
A high-profile murder unsettles a New England college town in this eventful second novel from Carter (Law/Yale; The Emperor of Ocean Park, 2002, etc.). Economics professor and tireless lothario Kellen Zant, a charismatic black academic celebrity whose romantic conquests acknowledge no limits, is found dead on a remote back road. Suspicion falls among Zant's former lovers and their mates, his colleagues and the wealthy clients who shelled out big bucks for his advice-and even the (unnamed) college's president Lemaster Carlyle and his wife Julia (herself one of Zant's former paramours). The Carlyles were minor figures in Carter's debut novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park , but they occupy center stage in this beefy, neatly constructed melodrama, which distributes clues and juggles suspects with Grisham-like energy and efficiency. We're briskly introduced to the insular little world of the campus, a racially and ethnically mixed utopia whose sleek occupants nevertheless have secrets aplenty to conceal. And Carter expands the novel's scope with impressive assurance, as Zant's murder is connected to another (ostensibly accidental) death; the surpassingly odd behavior of the Carlyles' teenaged daughter Vanessa (who torches her dad's Mercedes for no discernible reason); and the 30-year-old murder of a white woman student (with which Vanessa has become obsessed), shock waves from which may reach as far as the White House-presently occupied by Lemaster's former college roommate. The embattled Julia Carlyle, a busy mother of four who's also dean of the college's divinity school, is obliged to perform some fairly intricate detective work of her own, as persons of interest and their histories glimpsedin old mirrors (a crucial clue) prove to be nearer than they appear. An overload of exposition and a truckload of involved characters aside, this is a virtually irresistible-and highly intelligent-thriller. Carter strikes again. First printing of 300,000. Agent: Lynn Nesbit/Janklow & Nesbit
“An absolute don't-miss . . . page-turning mystery." —The Plain Dealer
“Earthshaking. . . . Keeps us guessing . . . right up to the intricately deployed end.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Carter twists the plotlines like pretzels while wryly skewering America's wealthy intellectual elite.” —People
“A testament to [Carter's] formidable storytelling. The novel's satisfying conclusion also points out how irrelevant genre labels have become.” —The Washington Post