Stephen L. Carter's big literary thriller, The Emperor of Ocean Park (Random House AudioBooks, $29.95, 6 hours, ISBN 0553713388), has gotten major attention since his multi-million dollar, two-book contract was signed, and that attention is well-deserved. Carter has written a truly suspenseful cliffhanger that offers an unusual window into the world of the black professional and captures the essence of family ties and tensions. His characters are wonderfully drawn, especially Talcott Garland, the cynical law professor and son of a former federal judge who almost made it to the Supreme Court. It all begins at Talcott's father's funeral when a sinister, shadowy, ex-CIA operative who was a close friend of the dead judge suddenly materializes to ask Talcott about "the arrangements." What they are and what they ultimately lead to drives the narrative and drives the judge's son to play out an elaborate and dangerous game. Peter Francis James reads so convincingly, you'll never doubt that you're listening to Talcott Garland tell his story.

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