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New England White

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  2,282 Ratings  ·  378 Reviews
Lemaster Carlyle, the president of the country's most prestigious university, and his wife, Julie, the divinity school's deputy dean, are America's most prominent and powerful African American couple. Driving home through a swirling blizzard late one night, the couple skids off the road. Near the sight of their accident they discover a dead body. To her horror, Julia recog ...more
Paperback, 556 pages
Published 2007 by Jonathan Cape
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Navidad Thelamour
Still a 5-star read for me! So glad I took the time to re-read this one in my holiday down time, in between writing my own chapters and preparing for this upcoming year of wonderful reads and exciting reviews!
Oct 26, 2007 Jia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
New England White is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. After I took a wrong turn toward the African-American section and misguidedly thumbed through the ABC’s of Borders’ fiction stacks, I finally made the connection that the newest novel from the widely hailed author of The Emperor of Ocean Park and Yale law scholar, Stephen L. Carter, was located in the Mystery/Thriller section. I could heed my embarrassment in not recognizing the accomplishments of my own fellow member of the “darker nation” (a ter ...more
I have a long-standing dislike for college presidents*, those vastly overpaid, criminally underworked figureheads of higher education. I probably "inherited" this dislike from my dad who spent years longer than he should have as an associate professor. The story goes like this:

My father once gave a lecture to the local historical society and made a joke about the college where he was currently teaching; I can't remember how it went exactly, but it had something to do with the school being unsoph
Dec 26, 2007 Kecia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
DISCLAIMER: If this is to be classified as a thriller, mystery, or something similar, then take this review with a grain of salt, since I don't normally read books in this genre.

If I weren't reading this for a book group discussion, I would have done the same thing I ended up doing with The Emperor of Ocean Park: put it down about a third of the way through out of fatigue. God bless you for your efforts, Professor Carter, but your editor needs to actually EDIT. There is such a thing as too much
Izetta Autumn
I sincerely enjoyed Carter's first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park, and thus had high hopes for this, his second book. I was hoping and had imagined a modern day Dumas - a thrilling novel, with lots of sophisticated clues, and a twist of highlighting the black elite/intelligentsia.

Unlike Carter's first book, New England White, has a far less believable plot - even for this genre of being asked to believe the inconsistent or unbelievable. Carter doesn't give enough realistic signifiers for his
Mar 20, 2008 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was curious about this book, because his first novel (The Emperor of Ocean Park) was read and discussed by the mini-book-club (comprised of my husband, our friends Bert & Carolyn, and me) and we found much to think about. Once again, SLC follows characters whose background is the upper-middle-class African-American culture about which we collectively seemed to know NOTHING. The use of the phrase "the paler nation" really got our attention, and reminded us that for people of color, EVERYTHI ...more
First off, this is a very large book. I wasn't sure I'll be able to get through it but I did. This book is a murder mystery surrounding an African-American president of a university, his wife, her dead ex-lover and a crime that happened over 30 years ago and how they are connected to it. It was a difficult read at first. Many characters and situations to remember but once I understood what was going on within the story, I swept through it. I wanted to know how it was going to end. The ending was ...more
Dec 21, 2008 Natalia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2009
A fascinating look into a world I know nothing about. It was a great mystery too, but like a lot of mysteries, the best thing about it is how the mystery provides an excuse to see into a different world. In this case, the story centers around a family of upper-class African-American academics. I had no idea about the world of social clubs and and things that they move in. Fascinating
Mar 27, 2016 Kye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great read from this author
Jul 16, 2013 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny by: Kendra
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 21, 2007 K.C. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never gravitated towards mystery/suspense but ever since I read several of my collegues books from the Harlem Writers Guild I've been hooked. So I read Carter's second book with eagerness. It started off strong and I marvelled at how he could keep a mystery going for 550 pages but he did it. And he did it well. New England White is compelling, smart, and good. It can be a little repetitive but given the subject matter---the murder of a genius, controversial black econ professor at a liberal ...more
Jul 11, 2015 Vanessa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
3.5 stars

New England White is a quite hefty novel and not necessarily an easy read. It caught my attention from the get-go because I love a good mystery, but all of the political talk decreased my interest. I commend Carter on crafting such a complicated storyline, but perhaps some aspects of the story remained unclear to me at the ending because of its intricacy. Nonetheless, I could not wait to discover who was behind the two deaths on which the novel focused.
Apr 13, 2017 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an ambitious novel about a well-to-do African-American couple, he the president of a prestigious college and she the deputy dean of its divinity school. The plot is highly complex and involves more than one murder, closely connected to the family and to the school. Conspiracies abound, and the attitudes of the community regarding race and politics are center stage. I wasn't aware that this is the second book about the same family; there were references to past relationships and events, b ...more
Nov 27, 2011 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carter’s mystery is complex and compelling, but also confusing at some points with all the characters and sub plots. Just when you think you’ve got it under control, another conspiracy starts to take form.

The Carlyle’s are upper class members of the “darker nation” who on the way home from a Connecticut university fundraiser happen upon a dead body that also just happens to Mrs. Julia Carlyle’s ex-boyfriend!

Then Carter tosses in another murder from 30 years prior of a young local girl and the
Jan 27, 2009 Drick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the best books I have read recently. It combines a great story (the attempt to uncover the cause behind the murder of economics professor Kellen Zandt, and the 30 year old murder of a 17 year old Gina Jule), and insightful commentary on Black-White relations in the United States. Like Carter's other book, Emperor of Ocean Park, this book gives white readers into the diversity and class consciousness within the "darker nation," as well as their common distrust of the "paler nation ...more
Jul 08, 2007 Kirby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
550+ page book, but reads pretty quickly. Didn't think it worked that well as a small town murder/mystery, even with the rich detail. But it did provoke larger questions about how Black elites might use whatever power and leverage they can obtain within the paler nation in service of the darker nation (Carter's terminology) and thoughtfully explores what the consequences of such choices might be -- on individuals, on the exclusive clubs/organizations/associations allegedly dedicated to such work ...more
Jul 13, 2008 Celia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who reads more and faster
Recommended to Celia by: a neighbor
Shelves: had-to-stop
The beginning of this book was compelling. It got less so, but I was enjoying it. The humor of the academic setting was familiar for this author, I could tell. He enjoyed replacing white Ivy League characters with black counterparts.

Unfortunately, the lightweight-ness of the mystery, even with some good racial lessons, didn't warrant my slow plowing through 600-plus pages.
Kaitlyn Wb
Mar 26, 2012 Kaitlyn Wb rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Just terrible. I thought that Emperor of Ocean Park was fascinating and well-written, but I found the characters in this one acting in such bizarre manners (Julia was basically attacked something like 3 separate times and just goes about her daily business, for one thing) that it kept taking me out of the book. And there were far too many twists. I had to force myself to finish it.
Dec 21, 2014 Dona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an okay read, but I felt that Carter tried too hard to make this an adventuresome read with plot twists and turns that were more cumbersome than interesting. He could have wrapped up the story much quicker than he did. Instead of asking myself, "what next" in eager anticipation, it was "what next" in terms of "can't we just get this over with already."
Dec 16, 2011 Kit rated it really liked it
Shelves: recentlyread
entertaining political conspiracy thriller with a lot to recommend it. and the heroine is a mother and divinity school dean!
I just finished this book this morning. It is a fascinating mystery and psychological study. Another great novel by Stephen L. Carter.
Jenny Shank

A subtle thread of racism
Prejudice knits together twists in fascinating murder mystery
Jenny Shank, Special to the Rocky
Published July 6, 2007 at midnight

Vanessa Carlyle, the daughter of well-connected academics in Stephen L. Carter's engrossing new novel, New England White, is a puzzle piece that doesn't fit. She's a wealthy, highly intelligent black teenager living in a part of Connecticut that Carter calls "the heart of whiteness," who spends her free ti
Jeffrey Brown
Mar 14, 2017 Jeffrey Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good read. Great even
Apr 22, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lemaster Carlyle, President of a divinity school, and his wife Julia Carlyle, dean, live near a village called Tyler Landing with two of their four children - Vanessa and Jeannie. Their sons, Preston and Aaron, are in college. The novel revolves around Kellen Zant, a professor of economics and former lover of Julia Carlyle, who has been murdered. After a brief investigation, the police close the case and attribute Zant's death to robbery. At first Julia accepts the report; however, when several ...more
Jan 20, 2015 Ari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
IQ "She said this has long been the curse of the best of us, and is therefore the curse of our clubs. The sororities, the fraternities, the social clubs, all of them. The best of our people reach a certain level of success, and they decide that they have moved beyond politics. One reason they become so devoted to the clubs-Aurelia said this-is because it lets them express solidarity with the community without actually having to do anything about it. They can congratulate each other on their achi ...more
Jul 30, 2011 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
To be fair to Stephen L. Carter, I’m not much of a mystery reader. So that might explain some of my annoyance with this book. Two of the only other mysteries I’ve read (besides my beloved Nancy Drew novels as a kid) were the first two Dan Brown novels, which I shamelessly admit I loved (or at least I loved The DaVinci Code). His protagonist is a scholar of obscure learning, and so when he solves the mystery by cracking crazy, esoteric codes, I wasn’t in the least bothered by any notion of believ ...more
Scott Rhee
Jul 08, 2011 Scott Rhee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephen L. Carter's "New England White" is more than a typical murder mystery. If you happened to be one of the fortunate ones to have read Carter's previous novel, "The Emperor of Ocean Park", you'll know what I mean. Carter, a Yale law scholar and an African-American, hails from the corridors of academe, and his very prim and proper prose style reflects that. He also writes from a culture that the average reader (assuming one is NOT African-American and a graduate of Yale) may not be familiar ...more
Elizabeth K.
I enjoyed reading this very much, although it had some of the same problems that his first novel, Emperor of Ocean Park did. The wife of an Ivy League college president gets caught up with investigating the murder of a faculty member (who also happens to be her former boyfriend) after realizing that her daughter is somehow indirectly involved. I liked the college setting, and as always I remain fascinated by the historically upperclass African American community (which overlaps a tiny bit with t ...more
This mystery-thriller about past crimes, long held secrets and political power set amongst the ivied halls of New England academia, starts out well with a gruesome find in the snow and a lot of unanswered questions. The story begins refreshingly, replacing the traditional stereotyped characters who usually populate such books with more modern and diverse ones; unfortunately, as the the narrative develops they reveal themselves to be merely revamped stereotypes.

The author is a fairly able chroni
Jun 27, 2010 Jael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
During one of my many, many, many unnecessary trips to Borders, I came across “New England White.” I think the shiny book cover attracted my attention before the subject matter – a murder mystery in the town of Elm Harbor. Hmmm!!! I hadn’t read a mystery novel in years, and thought “why not?”

Lemaster Carlyle, the African-American president of a top divinity school, and his wife Julia are on their way home from a dinner party. Driving in a blizzard, the couple skids off the road where they disco
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Stephen L. Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale where he has taught since 1982. He has published seven critically acclaimed nonfiction books on topics ranging from affirmative action to religion and politics. His first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park (2002), was an immediate national best seller. His latest novel is New England White (Knopf, 2007). A recipient of the NAA ...more
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