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Palace Council

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  1,234 Ratings  ·  225 Reviews
Bestselling author Stephen L. Carter delivers a gripping political thriller set against the backdrop of Watergate, Vietnam, and the Nixon White House.

Philmont Castle is a man who has it all: wealth, respect, and connections. He's the last person you'd expect to fall prey to a murderer, but then his body is found on the grounds of a Harlem mansion by the young writer Eddie
Paperback, 577 pages
Published June 16th 2009 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2008)
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Navidad Thelamour
Whew, this book was a lot! It was a murder mystery and whodunit, an exploration of 20 of the most tumultuous years in American 20th century history and a political thriller, not to mention a foray into Harlem's Golden Age of influential African Americans with the money and connections most never knew existed for them in those days. There was a lot crammed within these 500+ pages, sometimes for the better and sometimes not.

Stephen L. Carter is my favorite author for his ability to weave historica
Nov 06, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Dumpster
Shelves: fiction, got-rid-of
I want to weep with disgust that a book can be so banal, and so long. Reading it was mentally exhausting, and emotionally distressing, because it was so dull, and yet so complicated. It's a murder mystery, a political thriller, a missing persons quest, ranging from 1952 to 1975, among Harlem's black upper class. It has Dan Brown-like elements of conspiracy; riddles are solved with the help of passages from Paradise Lost and Lady Chatterley's Lover. The most annoying thing is Carter's insistence ...more
Jul 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great summer read - a political thriller chock full of conspiracy theories and shady dealings, but told from the perspective of Harlem's upper crust in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. While I consider myself fairly well educated, being white and a native Iowan did not provide me with the best insight into African-American life during the mid-1900s. The world Carter describes is fascinating, and the characters are well-developed and intricate. So while he may be covering some old historical groun ...more
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Palace Council is a big, sprawling, character driven novel. At its center is a vast conspiracy reaching into the Oval Office, threatening the social and political fabric of the country. The story spans over twenty years, from the early 1950’s to the mid ‘70’s. Our protagonist, writer Eddie Wesley, literally stumbles into this labyrinth of intrigue after discovering a dead body outside of a Harlem mansion.

Thus begins our story and Eddie’s two decade long quest, first bouncing between DC and NYC a
Beth Allen
Sep 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Beth by: NPR
This is a very good book, in many ways a great one.

For me, it was almost too intricate, too finely plotted, for this feeble brain to keep up with! I've spent much of the last week finishing Palace Council as I nurse a bad back, and perhaps my brain is wilted a bit as well.

Palace Council is a long book (over 500 pages). The author's note at the end is also worth reading, because Carter explains little changes he made to history, in order to fit in with Eddie Wesley's journey.

The real heroes of th
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not for the mentally lazy. The reader will work on every page to keep up or be lost forever in the twists and turns of this one. That said, I accepted the challenge and emerged victorious and thoroughly entertained.
Before I rip on this book, I want to state clearly that I liked it pretty well and I like Stephen Carter's voice.

This book could use a very efficient editor. The plot wanders, and there are too many twists. It makes me think of being a kid sitting in church during the sermon, and the preacher would use his "wrapping it up" cadence, and then plunge right back in and keep going. Palace Council had too many non-climaxes. Also, too many characters. Ultimately, it was confusing, which can easily sli
Bookmarks Magazine

Oh critics, how ye disagree! Many found Palace Council overly long and complained that the "thriller" parts came and went at random. It's also a bad sign in a genre that depends on flash/bang finales if the ending is considered weak. On a separate note, Edward and Aurelia witness more historical events than Forrest Gump

Dan Cotter
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book about the 1960s and Harlem. A political novel intertwined with race and family and a mysterious group. I have had his book on my shelves for some time and glad I pulled it to read it.
Apr 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
A Slow Ramble Through The Sixties, (2012)

Carter, Stephen L. (2008). Palace Council. New York: Vintage.

The characters are interesting and well-rounded in this saga of a prominent black community in Harlem, from the mid-1950’s to the mid-1970’s. Eddie Wesley is a black (“Negro”) writer who achieves sudden early fame and prosperity, which admits him into the upper echelons of rich black society. He loves Aurelia, but she marries someone else for money and status. Her relationship with Eddie neverth
If you cannot get into the characters within the first few pages, you may not enjoy this as the plot is not as engaging as it may seem, and the focuse of the book is to see how the characters interact/develop.

Other reviews here at the site are quite accurate.
Stephen L. Carter is an excellent author his characters are well drawn, real and easy to become interested in. Also, the subject matter of the small, but often influential African American upper class of the 50s'-60's is interesting and cl
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Once again, the brillian Stephen Carter writes a hard, but rewarding novel in which you learn about upper class African American life as much as you are entertained by the thriller. The plot is so complicated that I won't attempt to explain it, except to say that terrorism, journalism, writing, solidarity, and paranoia play large parts, as does love of one's family, romantic love, and love of/obsession with one's muse. It's an exciting book, with lots going on, and thus not an easy read, but I f ...more
Jan 01, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
one word:

There are so many characters and the novel spans two decades. I found it really hard to follow and even at the end I wasn't exactly sure what had happened throughout the story. Also confusing was the fact that some of the "characters" are actual historical figures - Kennedy, Nixon, Langston Hughes, etc.

It was still ok, and interesting if you enjoy Carter's first two stories - some of the characters in his earlier novels are "born" during this one. I loved his first two novels b
Tirza Sanders
I really like how smart Stephen Carter's books are. He combines mystery with history and explores upper class African American communities that are not widely written about. That said, I found this book a bit slow. It has such a large scope, spans several decades, and has many characters. I had a difficult time getting into the book and caring what happened to the characters. I have enjoyed other Carter books and really wanted to like it but I found it a challenge to finish.
This is definitely an entertaining read--it kept me up an hour later than I intended at the close--but I never could suspend my disbelief fully. The protagonist has a little bit of a Forrest Gump tendency to land right in the midst of major historical events which felt contrived. And I don't know if Carter is just a lot smarter than me, but I tend to leave his mysteries going. "Wait. What just happened?" I'm never entirely clear about whodunit.
Mar 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great book from one of my favorite authors. Terrific legal fiction set between 1954 and 1974. Intelligently written, it is full of historical figures, conspiracy theories and intrigue. It has plenty of twists and turns. Eddie Wesley and Aurelia Treene are complex, fully developed characters.

This is definitely a page turner, but "The Emperor of Ocean Park" is still my favorite. Make no mistake though, this is no light read. I highly recommend.

Dec 29, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't get this book over with fast enough. There was waaaayyyy too much going on with this story. Mainly there were too many coincidences which make for a bad mystery and the use of real life historical people as characters wasn't to my liking. Seriously, making the main characters friends with Nixon just wasn't believable. I did however like that the author used some of the same characters from his previous books, and that his characters hail from the middle class.
Carol Hunter
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carter is a very literary "legal thriller" author whose books are dense reads about the African-American upper class. This new addition continues the twists and turns of his suspenseful novels. I really enjoyed how he includes famous people such as Nixon and Langston Hughes as some of his characters in this interesting read which spans the years of 1952-1974.
Cynthia Marie
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delightful to read for the second time. A hugely entertaining novel. I love how the social and intellectual hierarchies of Harlem are expertly represented in this novel. An interesting political caper with historical figures engaged with his fictional characters makes for a creative, engaging, at times implausible, narrative.
Stephen Burns
Carter has a peculiar style, in that he tells more than he shows, but he's a good storyteller. Palace Council isn't his best work, but it is interesting. Unfortunately, the last audio disk from the library didn't work. I have the book on order from the library, so no, I don't know how it ends yet.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emperor of Ocean Park was the best of the three books in this "series." The storyline got a little farfetched and had a less than satisfying ending, but the obvious and not always flattering allusions to more recent political leaders was worth a chuckle.
Like others who have read this, I, too, felt this was in need of some serious editing. However, this is still an engrossing book, although I didn't like it as much as New England White. I did lose interest in the characters a bit by the end, and found the ending less than satisfying.
Roger Mckenzie
Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A really well written book but at times deeply frustrating and difficult to follow. It is also overly long. My rating for this book is in reality more a 2.5 than a 3.
Elizabeth Williams
A very unusual book - difficult to classify it but I have really enjoyed reading it.
Too verbose. Not the entertainment I was looking for. Gave up on it after 150 pages
Oct 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've had this book on my bookshelf for years and never read it. It wasn't until I was packing to move, when I found it. Well, first, this book is very long...528 pages. And I have to say the book felt long. The story spanned more than two decades (1952 to 1975)...and it felt that long. Although from reading the description the book seemed interesting, it actually was very slow. There were too many characters to keep track of. The author felt compel (for some reason) to include every single event ...more
I wanted to like this much more than I actually did. This is an intricate, sprawling novel of conspiracy, mystery and intrigue spanning approximately two decades, from the mid 1950s to 1975, positively littered with historical figures and events lending the main characters a Forrest Gumpish experience. They knew everyone and appeared to be at nearly every major event of the times. Some of that I found interesting, some of it was just too contrived and implausible. It was slow going for me. I put ...more
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Largely the same book over again as New England White and Emperor of Ocean Park. Carter's great strengths are in prose and characters, and those both shine in Palace Council. The plot, as usual, is less gratifying, but I appreciate Carter's depictions of American society after WWII and Harlem black society in Langston Hughes' era before the war. Without going into spoilers, some of the plot points that seem stupid or ridiculous simply mean that the reader is more discerning than the characters.
Charles Matthews
Advice to novelists: Never make the protagonist of your novel a novelist, unless you can be sure that the reader would rather be reading your novel than the ones your character has written.

The protagonist of Stephen L. Carter's third novel, Palace Council, is a novelist who by the end of the story has won at least two National Book Awards and is one of the most famous writers in America. Carter is pretty famous himself. He's the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale and the author of
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book very slow-moving. I lost interest in the characters and only finished it because I wanted to know the details of the conspiracy. The hero seemed like a nice enough man but his relationships with women were terrible. Was it him or them?
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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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