At the centre are Lemaster and Julia Carlyle. He is president of the university, she is a dean at the divinity school - African-Americans living in 'the heart of whiteness'. Lemaster's connections lead to the President of the United States, his old college room-mate. Julia is connected to the dead man, Kellen Zant, her lover before she met Lemaster. The meeting point of these connections - a murder committed and covered up in Elm Harbor thirty years ago, and the shocking plans carried out by a fraternity of the 'darker nation' - forms the core of a mystery that deepens even as Julia, guided by clues left her by Zant, closes in on the politically earth-shattering motive behind his murder.
Suspenseful from first to last, galvanising in its exploration of the profound difference between allegiance to ideas and to people, New England White is a resounding confirmation of Stephen Carter's gifts as a writer of fiction.