From the Publisher
“A riveting thriller… racing relentlessly from the bedrooms of Manhattan to the boardrooms of Connecticut to the banks of Iceland. Bravo!” Jeffery Deaver, New York Times bestselling author of Edge
“The pieces of this plot mesh as smoothly as a well executed trade.” Bloomberg News
“Frighteningly plausible...a recession-era nail-biter.” HedgeCo.net
“A first-rate thriller.” Library Journal
“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, bestselling author of No Place to Run and head writer of Murder, She Wrote
“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
“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 on Top Producer
“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 ... 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) on Top Producer
“An entertaining debut…The story mirrors reality--in ways that may now surprise even its author, who finished the book before the economic meltdown. The two decades Vonnegut spent as a wealth advisor are evident in the venom he brings to descriptions and in his grasp of the cutthroat world of finance.” SmartMoney magazine (A Smart Book "Best Of" pick) on Top Producer
“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 on Top Producer
“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
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.)
Read an Excerpt
DECEMBER 11, 2007
“I want my money.”
Jimmy Cusack gazed out the window of his office in the Empire State Building. Most days he savored the southern view of downtown Manhattan. To the east was Goldman Sachs, its Broad Street headquarters an impregnable fortress in the world of finance. To the west was Lady Liberty, her harbor a vast cluster of skyscrapers rising from the sea. New York was a city that attracted great fortunes—and epic brawls to manage them.
There were times inside his hedge fund when Cusack could taste the adrenaline. He reveled in the rush of competitors waging war from their granite towers, new-age monuments that celebrated the triumph of capital. There were no cease-fires sixty-one floors below. The struggle to win clients never stopped, and the ethos was “Kill or be killed” among soldiers suited in the battle rattle of Armani pinstripes and Gucci loafers.
Today was no ordinary day. Those four words, “I want my money,” haunted Cusack’s thoughts. Gone was the crooked smile. The creases around his lips, sometimes mistaken for a good-natured smirk, had long since vanished. His eyes a bitter blue, Cusack’s face resembled the dark clouds outside his bluff of sixty-one stories.
The ambush was cold and ruthless. “Here’s how it is,” the lead investor said. “Tomorrow morning, James, you’ll get a FedEx. Not the afternoon delivery, but the one at ten. Inside are eight redemption notices. Each one is signed and notarized, ready to go. I want my money. So do my friends who invested in your fund.”
“Who else wants out, Caleb?”
“Everybody I put in.”
“Not Whitney,” insisted Cusack.
“What about Gould?”
“Everybody,” Caleb repeated. “By my calculations, our stake totals one hundred and twenty million dollars.”
“You agreed to a lockup,” argued Cusack. “We’re talking eighty-five percent of what I manage and—”
“My lawyers say your documents are a joke.”
“You talked to Ropes and Gray?”
“What difference does it make? Just get us our money, James.”
“That the way it is?” Cusack sounded hard, but he was wobbling inside.
“My hands are tied.”
“Yeah. To an ax.”
“I may run for governor,” said Caleb. “I can’t ask my buddies for contributions, not when they’re losing their shirts at Petri Dish Capital or whatever the hell they call your hedge fund.”
“And you think pulling your money is smart in this market?”
“Not open for discussion.”
Nearly six hours had passed since then. The markets were closed. The sun was setting. And Cusack racked his brain for a Hail Mary solution, a glimmer of hope, anything to save his business from redemptions that would leave him with less than $20 million to manage.
It could take years to replace $120 million from Caleb and his fellow deserters. Until then, revenues from the remaining $20 million would not pay the light bill. Cusack had no cash left to fund operations. He had gone “all in,” Texas Hold ’Em style, every chip in the pot.
With the grim reality of Caleb’s words unfolding, Cusack lacked his characteristic focus. His thoughts drifted from New York’s office towers to the “Irish battleships” of his youth, the three-family homes of Somerville, Massachusetts.
Jimmy had always been the scrappy kid with promise. Long ago he traded membership in Somerville’s blue-collar CIA—Catholic, Irish, alcoholic—for a career on Wall Street. He was thirty-two and Ivy educated, a graduate of Columbia and Wharton. His pedigree included a one-year Rotary Fellowship in Japan and five years at Goldman Sachs. He was his family’s hope for the future, the son, the entrepreneur his parents had backed.
Those were yesterday’s dreams. Cusack’s money-management business was going down. It was taking on water through a Titanic-sized hole in the hull, the lead investor’s words tearing at him still. “Nothing personal, mind you.”
Caleb, you made it personal.
“And we expect you for Christmas dinner, James.”
Copyright © 2011 by Norb Vonnegut