Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New England White

If you love smart mysteries, you need to check out Stephen L. Carter. He is a brilliant writer and I always feel a little bit more in the know when I am done with his books. I've only read two now, and I think the other one was his debut - The Emperor of Ocean Park. This novel, New England White, takes two minor characters from Emperor's and creates an entire new, scandalous, earth-shattering mystery. It's about money, and race, and politics and secrets....highly enjoyable.

Julia and LeMaster Carlyle are weathly upper class members of the darker nation(Carter's description. I am a member of the paler nation) living among the New England White. LeMaster is the current president of a prestigious university and Julia, his wife, is the dean of its divinity school. One winter evening, they drive off an icy road and happen upon a body. It's someone they know. It's Julia's former lover who also happens to be a member of the darker nation. After this discover, she begins to find all sorts of coded clues he left for her if he happened to be killed. It might involve her husband and his former roommates in college - one who happens to be the President of the United States and one, a senator running for the presidency. It all seems to have something to do with a 17 year old girl who was murdered thirty years ago by a young black man. The young black man was shot and killed by police but what if he didn't do it? Julia and LeMaster's young daughter seems obsessed and troubled by this old story and once Julia decides to follow the clues left for her, so did her former lover.

It's complicated and scary and troubling and very good. Both of his novels are hefty with lots of details but I doubt you'd be sorry if you decide to take them on.

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