‘New England White’: Mystery Plus the Kitchen Sink

Courtesy of Knopf

Like his 2002 smash The Emperor of Ocean Park, Stephen L. Carter’s New England White is a mystery plus. A mystery plus domestic melodrama. A mystery plus social satire. A mystery plus an examination of the black upper crust. Carter, also a law professor at Yale, borrows from the murder and legal-thriller genres, throws in a governmental conspiracy, and even (as the title hints) takes a few literary cues from Hawthorne and his New England brethren. Some critics feel the result is a little too much; others think it’s just right.

Rave: "Carter's graceful, cultivated narrative abilities are light-years beyond the scope of Grisham's flat, formulaic prose, and while Turow shares a certain psychological depth-perception with Carter, his books are still largely legal thrillers. While he never disregards the necessities of plot, Carter writes about much more: character, class and culture. And he does it very well." –Robert Weibezahl, BookPage

Rant: "New England White fails to satisfy, not because of its length … or the complex conspiracy at its heart, but because of the heavy-handed plotting and deductive leaps of faith the novel asks of readers that become hard to stomach." –Paula L. Woods, Los Angeles Times
–Marc Tracy