January 2003
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True Lies
By Monique M., Grade 12, Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB

The Emperor of Ocean Park
By Stephen L. Carter
Alfred A. Knopf
$39.95, 654 pages

The Emperor of Ocean Park draws you in and keeps you guessing for over 600 pages. This is a novel about the lack of law, misconstrued information, confusing references to "Angela's" boyfriends, and a life sized chess game, oh and murder.

Stephen L. Carter is a Yale law professor who has written seven other pieces of literature including Integrity, and Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy. This is however his first work of fiction. Stephen writes on an adult level. He is not writing for children but young adults and adults. He combines metaphors, euphorisms, and parables to make you believe that Talcott Garland is an well-educated man. The sentence structures and paragraphs don t always flow smoothly giving the reader a feeling as though they have missed something, but for the most part this is a very intelligently written book.

Ivy League law professor Talcott Garland is suddenly thrown into the world of conspiracy theories after the death of his father. Judge Oliver Garland, who was an iconic African-American, was involved in a scandal shaking 1980s politics, left clues of "the arrangements" for only his youngest son to uncover. There is a revolving door of minor and major characters some giving Talcott hope and others a sense of dread, who bring him to the meaning of his fathers clues. Everyone is a suspect in Talcotts' mind from his brother and colleges, to the Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Talcott is aided or you could say lead in his mandatory search by his sometimes irrational sister, the CIA, the FBI, influential lawyers and judges, and people with mob ties. There is a sub plot involving Talcott's wife and the instability of their marriage which shows his love for his wife and child. It is this love that keeps him searching for the truth, as he needs to protect them at all costs.

Through first person narrative and conversation this story is well presented and easy to become involved in. This book proves once again that no one and nothing is truly as they seem. Everyone has a dirty little secret.

Carter writes: "Jack Ziegler knows exactly what I am thinking. I can read it in his tired face as he lays a wizened hand on my shoulder. "Nothing is ever known by only two people, Talcott."

The many subplots and references to chess help tie all the clues together and prepare the reader for the final outcome by making the main plot whole. This book is not overly wordy but extremely long with references to situations and events a more mature audience would understand. I found this book interesting, and it held my attention; however, it was just too long. This book is a good read for people who enjoy a good mystery and trying to put together the pieces of a puzzle. You need patience and have to be able to devote a lot of time reading and sometimes rereading this novel.


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