New England White. By Stephen L. Carter. Read by Bahai Turpin. 2007. 22.5hr. Books on Tape, C5, $129 (9781415942000); CD, $129 (9781415939024).
The murder of a prominent black professor at a New England college sets off a string of events that expose scandal, racism, and political intrigue. University president Lemaster Carlyle and his wife, Julia, are drawn into the investigation because of their past and current relationships with the deceased. Carter follows up The Emperor of Ocean Park (2002) (also available from Books on Tape) with another sharp literary tale. Unfortunately, this title is a bit difficult to follow in audio. Listeners need to pay close attention to totally absorb long, somewhat complicated sentences and passages. The novel is told from Julia's viewpoint, and Turpin's sophisticated voice reflects her perfectly. Turpin also capably varies tone and pitch to portray the remaining characters, including a college secretary who sounds appropriately smarmy. This may work better as a novel, but the audio is certainly an acceptable alternative for those familar with Carter's earlier novel.--Jeanette Larson