The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter

I can't decide how much I liked this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed getting a perspective I don't think I've ever had before--the narrator, like the author, is an African-American law professor at a prestigious law school. He is firmly entrenched in the black upper middle class, which apparently is pretty elitist. The book is very well-written and has lots of interesting characters, including a pro-life libertarian lesbian. Descriptions of the different but overlapping worlds of law professors, D.C. lawers and judges, black Baptist preachers, shadowy, unscrupulous mob types, and an extended family with various hang-ups and quirks are detailed and believable.

Basically, though, it's a very long murder mystery (although part of the mystery is whether or not the dead person at the beginning was really murdered), and I'm not a big fan of mysteries. This novel has much more going on than your typical mystery, but there were times, especially near the end, when I thought, "Isn't this over yet? Did I have to witness that entire conversation that didn't reveal any new information?" The book is over 600 pages long; maybe some of it could have been cut?

I think it would be really fun for a law student to read, or someone who really loves chess (there's a lot of chess talk). I guess I liked it, but I didn't love it.


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