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The Gods of Greenwich Hardcover – April 26, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vonnegut follows his debut, Top Producer, with another invigorating dip into the shark pool of Wall Street's hedge fund industry. In late 2007, Jimmy Cusack, a cagey but honest money manager, finds himself in trouble after his hedge fund collapses thanks to the pullout of his biggest investor. Burdened by a huge mortgage and pressing financial obligations to his family, Cusack goes against his better judgment and takes a job with Leeser Capital, run by the shady Cy Leeser, whose investment strategies have always been far from transparent. Cusack's misgivings grow as losses begin inexplicably mounting at Leeser amid rumors about the company's involvement in an Icelandic bank and a hedge strategy based on life insurance claims. Vonnegut, a financial professional himself, not only gets the language and tone of Wall Street right but has an instinctive feel for dialogue and action. Especially enjoyable is the rip-roaring finale at the Bronx Zoo. Author tour. (Apr.)
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“Norb Vonnegut offers a gleeful peek at the world of hedge fund moguls in The Gods of Greenwich, a funny, savvy book that can be as absurd as its title.” –The New York Times

"The black comedy of life in the fast lanes of high level finance powers a wonderful new thriller by Norb Vonnegut, The Gods of Greenwich, set in the poshest reaches of Connecticut and Manhattan...
the secret of how Cy “hedges” is the Gods of Greenwich plot equivalent of what the callow young lawyer in The Firm found out about his too-good-to-be-true Memphis law office — and Vonnegut ratchets up the suspense and the laughs as we are taken deep into “Hedgistan” (i.e. Greenwich)." --The Connecticut Post
"The pieces of this plot mesh as smoothly as a well executed trade." --Bloomberg News 

"A riveting thriller… racing relentlessly from the bedrooms of Manhattan to the boardrooms of Connecticut to the banks of Iceland. Bravo!" --Jeffrey Deaver, New York Times bestselling author of Edge

" This is way beyond just being a fast-paced financial thriller.  I've not read such a rich portrayal of downfall through hubris since Tom Wolfe's Bonfire Of The Vanities." –Peter James, internationally bestselling author of Dead Like You

" The Gods of Greenwich is compelling, suspenseful, high-energy, a terrific read!”-- Thomas B. Sawyer, best-selling author of No Place to Run and head writer of Murder, She Wrote

"The Gods of Greenwich is a fast-paced and satisfying locomotive of a financial-based thriller, Dominick Dunne meets Barbarians at the Gate. Vonnegut has opened the vaults of Greenwich's elite, and oh what secrets and schemes pour out!" –Andrew Gross, #1 bestselling James Patterson co-author

“Vonnegut follows his debut, Top Producer, with another invigorating dip into the shark pool of Wall Street's hedge fund industry… Vonnegut, a financial professional himself, not only gets the language and tone of Wall Street right but has an instinctive feel for dialogue and action. Especially enjoyable is the rip-roaring finale at the Bronx Zoo.” –Publishers Weekly

"[Vonnegut's] gift for portraying certain social sets positions him as a satirical heir apparent to Louis Auchincloss. " --National Post (Canada)

“This novel ponders the age-old ramifications of greed, but Vonnegut gives it a fresh, timely twist.” –USA Today on Top Producer

“The gold standard for financial thrillers.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Top Producer

"A ripping good yarn." – Raymond Benson, author of several James Bond novels and co-author of Homefront—The Voice of Freedom

"Filled with enough insider info to send the feds to your door." – Hank Phillippi Ryan–Anthony, Macavity and Agatha–winning author of Drive Time

Things go from grim to worse for rising hedge-fund star Jimmy Cusack when his company collapses and the fund that recruits him is targeted for destruction by cutthroat bankers in Iceland and a sheikh in Qatar…. The novel moves at… a fast clip, spilling goods on recession-era wheelers and dealers as it goes.” --Kirkus

“The Gods of Greenwich is better than most financial thrillers… a page-turner plot. (Serial murders plus the Great Crash of 2008.)… The cast is an unusually motley and enjoyable crew.” –The New York Journal of Books

“Vonnegut follows up his debut (Top Producer) with a first-rate thriller set in the world of hedge fund managers during the 2008 financial meltdown…. Vonnegut's skill at creating characters at risk will make even less wealthy readers root for Cusack to survive his financial debacle with millions intact. This thriller will appeal to fans of Joseph Finder and might serve as a cautionary tale to anyone who envies the seemingly idyllic life of the superrich. But don't we all like to read about them?” –Library Journal


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312384696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312384692
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,046,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The New York Times describes my novels as "money porn," "a red-hot franchise," and "glittery thrillers about fiscal malfeasance." Through fiction I explore the dark side of money and focus on the motivations of those who have it, want more, and will steamroll anybody who gets in their way.

I wasn't always an author. I spent most of my career in private wealth management with several brokerage firms, primarily Morgan Stanley, and with a registered investment adviser in New York City. Back then, I always thought the people of Wall Street and their clients--smart, goofy, the complete spectrum from good to evil--would make great characters in a novel.

One thing I've learned: If a novelist can cook it up, chances are somebody is doing it. In December of 2007, I delivered the manuscript for Top Producer to St. Martin's Press. My debut novel told the story of a Ponzi scheme in the public markets--which may not sound like a big deal in the aftermath of 2008. But I completed the book twelve months before Madoff unraveled.

More recently I wrote The Trust, a novel about drugs, money laundering, a sex superstore, and the Catholic Fund. A few months after its publication, a Catholic priest was indicted in Connecticut for cooking methamphetamine. And the press reported that he bought a sex shop to launder his drug money.

My stories have been nosing up to reality, long before the headlines make the press. The reason? Fiction is liberating. Novelists can advance theories about characters, no matter how crazy, without fearing the public embarrassment of being wrong. In my case, I'm probing people born from my real-life experience in the trenches of private wealth management. I'm straddling fact and fiction, which may explain why Top Producer and The Trust were predictive. And I sincerely hope The Gods of Greenwich never comes true.

Let's see what happens with End Game, the working title for my next novel. The story begins in 1986 with an art heist at Pell College, a fictional woman's school in Newport, Rhode Island. Picasso, Monet, Modigliani, Matisse--six priceless paintings disappear for over twenty-five years. Then, one day the Modigliani is returned to Pell with a ransom demand:

"Wire us $100 million in five days, or we'll turn the others into confetti."

The hero of End Game left Wall Street for the sanctuary of a small town in New England. But he's so good at his job, so completely trustworthy and rock-solid reliable, he keeps getting sucked back into the muck of his former life. End Game takes an irreverent look at big money and big lies. And like my other novels, the stakes are deadly.

Other things to know about me: I write a column about private wealth management for the Wall Street Journal. My commentary addresses financial advisers. It's opinionated. I don't hold back. But it's unbiased, because I'm not constrained by ties to Wall Street. If you're evaluating your own financial advisers, I encourage you to take a look.

I graduated from Phillips Exeter in 1976, Harvard College in 1980 and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1986. My family and I split our time between New York City and Narragansett, Rhode Island. I'm an avid cyclist and a Trustee with the American Foundation for the Blind. And I absolutely love books on tape.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although I've enjoyed financial thrillers by Joseph Finder and Christopher Reich (I haven't yet gotten to Stephen Frey), I approach them with some trepidation because for me, reading about finance is about as exciting as watching the Dow Jones ticker scrolling along the bottom of a television screen. As I began The Gods of Greenwich, however, those concerns vanished and never returned. The plot is smart and compelling, the characters are engaging, and Norb Vonnegut's writing style is energetic. This isn't a book that bogs down in the jargon of arbitrageurs and commodities brokers. Like a volatile market, the plot moves in unforeseen directions with unexpected speed.

Wealth, power, and crime are the key ingredients in a financial thriller. In The Gods of Greenwich, they are present in abundance. Norb Vonnegut creates credible characters from the financial world, both shady and relatively honest, while adding a ruthless female contract killer to the mix. The characters are strong, familiar without becoming stereotypical. Cy Leeser is the ultimate money managing jerk, complete with a trophy wife who isn't quite good enough, a 19,000-square-foot home that isn't quite big enough, a family that isn't quite large enough, a priceless art collection that isn't quite exclusive enough, and an oversize ego that's more than enough to make readers crave his downfall. Jimmy Cusack is a young hedge fund manager who is less successful than Leeser; the sluggish economy has caused his clients (including his father-in-law) to bail, forcing him to join Leeser's hedge fund team to save his condo from foreclosure. Jimmy's wife Emi suffers from a facial recognition disorder.
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In his second novel, author Norb Vonnegut continues to do for the world of finance what Robin Cook (and others) do for the world of medicine. He gives us a thrilling story steeped in the culture, setting, and dialog of a specialty field: high finance / Wall Street. The picture Vonnegut portrays of the Wall Street mindset is both frightening and fascinating. Greed isn't merely good, it is the only thing. No matter how much money you have, you need more. Ostentation rules. Yet another force is also at play in these glorified gambling careers: no matter how much success you have, you're one stock market crash from failure.

Vonnegut's books (this one and Top Producer) are both populated with well-drawn characters who truly live up to the word "character". They are quirky, memorable, sometimes vile, sometimes likable, sometimes both.

As far as the plot goes, the summary above says enough. Obscure financial instruments and deals drive the plot, but what matters is how these are merely tools of war in a high-stakes battle among Icelandic bankers, Qatari princes, Wall Street financiers, and of course our hero Jimmy Cusack, who is caught between a rock and a hard place from page one.

Gods of Greenwich excellently fills a niche in the thriller genre for stories set in the high-stakes world of global finance. What I particularly enjoy about Vonnegut's books is his ability to create a world that he personally knows well (having worked in wealth management for decades) and show it to us.
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When I read Vonnegut's prior financial thriller, Top Producer, I thought the book would be hard to surpass. In our present financial downturn, The Gods of Greenwich is equally exciting and timely. The author, who is a financial professional, creates a story about The Hedge Funds and their gazillionaires. He gives us an explanation of hedge funds, the traders and in this novel, the greedy off-the-wall head of LeeWell Capital, Cy Lesser. Our hero is James Cusack, who accepted a job with Cy Lesser after his own firm shut down. He sells himself to the devil to avoid losing his condo and the money he gives to his mother and other family members.

What I found particularly interesting is that these guys (and some women) were not unskilled or uneducated. They had degrees from Wharton and Harvard and were well versed in financial markets. But not only did they hedge their funds, they were out for blood as they pounced on other funds to drive them out of business. Vonnegut's cast of characters enhances his over-the-top plot. There is Bianca Lesser, the wife of Cy, who was the author of sizzling romance novels, but now is the wife of sleazy Cy. She loved to quote Dorothy Parker, which enhanced her actions and upgraded the novel. Victor Lee, another trader, believed women were the best traders so he would pop Premarin every day to give him the edge! James' wife, Emi, daughter of old money, has prosopagnosia, an inability to recognize faces. James must wear a pin at all times for purposes of identifying himself as her husband!

The plot involves cold-blood killing and the financial manipulation of the markets in the U.S., Iceland and Mideast.
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