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Top Producer: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 15, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312384610
  • ASIN: B003H4RE5A
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,034,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Vonnegut's debut meets the gold standard for financial thrillers as it puts the frenzied, cutthroat world of Wall Street's best stockbrokers (aka the top producers) on brilliant display. Ripples from the bizarre murder of Charlie Kelemen, wealthy hedge fund operator, quickly reach his best friend, Grove O'Rourke. A top producer at the boutique investment bank Sachs, Kidder and Carnegie, O'Rourke tries to help Kelemen's widow sort out some financial questions. This process leads him deeper and deeper into a labyrinth of deceit. As fallout from Charlie's death and dealings start to taint O'Rourke, the sharks, inside and outside his own firm, smell blood and begin to circle. O'Rourke won't go down without a fight, and not all the blood in the water will be his. Vonnegut, himself a veteran fund manager, handles the arcane terminology and slang of Wall Street with aplomb, never letting it get in the way of the story. 100,000 first printing. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Praise for Top Producer

“Norb Vonnegut, who has made a career out of wealth management, pulls off a compelling thriller that centers on the murder of hedge-fund schemer Charlie Kelemen: He’s tossed into a public aquarium and munched by sharks…This novel ponders the age-old ramifications of greed, but Vonnegut gives it a fresh, timely twist.” –USA Today

"Vonnegut’s debut meets the gold standard for financial thrillers as it puts the frenzied, cutthroat world of Wall Street’s best stockbrokers (aka the ‘top producers’) on brilliant display. Ripples from the bizarre murder of Charlie Kelemen, wealthy hedge fund operator, quickly reach his best friend, Grove O’Rourke. A top producer at the boutique investment bank Sachs, Kidder and Carnegie, O’Rourke tries to help Kelemen’s widow sort out some financial questions. This process leads him deeper and deeper into a labyrinth of deceit. As fallout from Charlie’s death and dealings start to taint O’Rourke, the sharks, inside and outside his own firm, smell blood and begin to circle. O’Rourke won’t go down without a fight, and not all the blood in the water will be his. Vonnegut, himself a veteran fund manager, handles the arcane terminology and slang of Wall Street with aplomb, never letting it get in the way of the story." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Though it's hard these days to feel sympathy for investment bankers and stockbrokers, Vonnegut makes his irreverent protagonist someone we can root for as he pursues crooks who use the redemptive language of hedge funds to hide financial malfeasance. A promising debut.”
–Library Journal

"Norb Vonnegut's Top Producer begins where Liar’s Poker and The Bonfire of the Vanities left off and puts an electrifying spin on the winner-take-all culture of Wall Street. Turn to the first page and plunge into the shark-infested waters of high finance and greed." 
--Brent Ghelfi, ITW Award-nominated author of Volk’s Game and The Venona Cable

“A timely read as Vonnegut opens the kimono exposing the intricate cause and effect of finance and murder. He shares his well-earned insights and literary acumen in a manner that entices the reader to reach out for the next chapter.  A must for all investors wishing to avoid the next Bernie Madoff!"
--Joe Grano, Former CEO UBS/PaineWebber

“Norb Vonnegut makes a sterling debut in Top Producer, a financial thriller extraordinaire that reads like a 2009 version of Tom Wolfe s brilliant Bonfire of the Vanities for a world that has lost its taste for Wall Street excesses….A former wealth manager himself, Vonnegut paints a vivid picture of life lived between million-dollar trades. But he also writes with an aplomb that makes Top Producer a literary reimagining of the film Wall Street where murder, as well as money, never sleeps.” --Providence Journal-Bulletin (Rhode Island)


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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By M. S. Butch VINE VOICE on May 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you've ever thought about selling securities for a living, this book should make up your mind; that is, if you accept Mr. Vonnegut's vision of the business. I would have enjoyed "Top Producer" just for that nightmarish vision, but there's a lot more.

Here's the set-up: Grove O'Rourke is a top salesman at a big brokerage house. When his best friend dies in a strange incident, he agrees to help the widow, also a long-time friend, and the former roommate of Grove's dead wife, to wind up the decedent's business. Stuff happens.

I can't say a lot more without spoiling the fun, but the story races by, filled with back-stabbing colleagues, evil in-house lawyers, and ordinary thugs, none of whom want Grove to complete his mission. The author's expertise in the business is apparent in every vivid and miserable detail of Grove's daily life and, of course, in the unraveling mystery at the heart of things.

I read "Top Producer" cover to cover and enjoyed every minute. My one real criticism is that some of the characters don't make a lot of sense, and the resolution would be more satisfying if a little more thought had been put into them. (I apologize for the vagueness, but again, I don't want to give the story away!)
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By HeyJudy VINE VOICE on June 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Before you start reading TOP PRODUCER, clear your calendar. You're not going to want to put it down until you finish the last page. This book has everything going for it to become a huge bestseller and, eventually, a hit movie.

The novel is centered on Wall Street at the present moment in time. How much of this story was inspired by recent current events and how much, independently, was the product of a fertile and informed imagination is impossible to discern from the tale.

Yet how the plot came to be hatched is irrelevant in the reading. This is a brilliant work.

Author Norb Vonnegut displays an insider's knowledge of the trading world, making it come alive for an outsider. At times, the narrative almost approaches a primer on investing.

The mystery opens with one of the most imaginative (and repulsive)murders in the history of fiction. At a quick pace, it moves on to stock manipulation and Securities fraud, complete with partners-in-crime, double-crosses and triple-crosses. A couple of characters are implausible but not impossible ... and even the greatest writers sometimes rely on coincidence to advance their stories, as Vonnegut does here.

He has crafted an intricate and compelling plot that achieves the ultimate thriller status, keeping one absorbed way into the wee hours of the morning. And, best of all -- and rarely true in popular fiction -- Vonnegut displays immense command of language. Taken together, TOP PRODUCER is a winner in every sense.

Don't miss this one!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. Richardson VINE VOICE on July 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Top Producer presents an interesting twist on a whodunit murder mystery. Grove O'Rourke is a young investment broker and one of the top producers at a famous investment firm in New York. When his wealthy, free-spending best friend is killed at a lavish birthday party in an extremely bizarre way right in front of him and 500 other guests, he wants to know why. When his friend's widow pleads poverty and asks him for help in untangling their finances, the search for answers becomes urgent. The friend ran a one-man investment company and covered his tracks well. Grove starts digging, first for the widow's sake and later on behalf of other investor/friends who want to know where their money is. Adding to his anguish about his friends's murder, he also feels guilty because he suggested the location where the murder took place. He is also still suffering from the sudden death of his own beloved wife and child 18 months earlier.

I found the book very intriguing on a lot of levels, examining friendships, which are not always what we think they are, the mysteries of investment finance and how someone's reputation and livelihood can be destroyed almost instantly. I actually found the information on intricate finance/investment and brokers' strategy, which is the backdrop to the story, more interesting than the murder, which I solved long before the end (I knew who, but not why). Throughout the story, Mr. Vonnegut provided brief explanations on arcane stuff like hedge funds, selling short and margin calls, in layman's terms so even someone like me, who knows very little about investment finance, could understand. Although I had some minor quibbles with the book, they were not sufficient to detract from the overall story. This was a solid read; I look forward to his next book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Kingston on August 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Norb Vonnegut is to Wall Street as John Grisham is to the legal world. I look forward to reading more of his books. "Top Producer" is a timely, fun story that kept me reading past my usual, few chapters a night. The book is full of Wall Street lingo and provides insight as to the way Wall Street functions and how the different players think. Norb hits it dead on in describing how managers, the legal dept. and "top producers" think and what motivates them. I also enjoyed the twists and turns as well as the references to the different parts of NYC. All in all it's a fun and exciting read!

Norb, stop in Station Plaza Wine & Spirits in town for a Prosecco on the house.

Kevin
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