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Top Producer: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 15, 2009
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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.
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.”
"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)
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Top Customer Reviews
Norb Vonnegut has the gift--you can tell right away. For deep readers Top Producer satisifies a need for wordcraft and originality. For thrill seekers TP moves fast and in real time. And money junkies will receive an MBA in advanced trading techniques.
The plot is a modern novel masterpiece in foundation, structure, and surprise. Mr Vonnegut is able to carry themes and clues through the story that are challenging but coherent. Plus you have the sense with his easy and seemingly effortless erudition that he'll never run out of ideas.
And, I love the main character Grover O'Rourke. I see a sort of (better than) everyman action hero. He is the weekend athlete on a screaming carbon-fiber racer in the streets of Manhattan that could make for great visuals in a movie.
One of the few modern books I have read that I can't think of any way that I could have improved it.
Some of his characters may seem outlandish and unrealistic to you. They're not. The retail brokerage industry is full of energetic and intelligent over-achievers, some of whom cope with strange rituals or habits, some who function solely to elevate their own status-- financial or otherwise-- regardless of the effects on others, and some who crack under the extreme pressures and exhibit abnormal behaviors. Approximately 80-90% of broker trainees wash out for one reason or another before surviving three years. It's not a job for everyone.
Since I spent 30 years with one of the firms that Norb mentions in his novels, the financial jargon and investment concepts are all second nature to me. It didn't appear to be written so narrowly that newbies to the industry wouldn't get it all, but my own experience colors that perception. Even if the reader doesn't understand all of the investment concepts and/or terms, it doesn't take away from the great story and the commentary on human nature. It's all about the money-until it isn't. Norb has you board the high-speed train in Chapter Three, then it's 'full speed ahead'. Hang on and enjoy the ride. Norb Vonnegut nails it!
PS: The second novel (THE GODS OF GREENWICH) is not part of the Grover O'Rourke series. It stands alone. Books one and three go together.