The Gods of Greenwichby Norb Vonnegut
Forget about Bernie Madoff or Gordon Gekko—there's a new villain on Wall Street…
Norb Vonnegut didn't realize how close he skirted to non-fiction when he was writing his spectacular debut Top Producer. Penned before tumultuous revelations and scandals rocked the financial world in late 2008, Vonnegut's novel depicts, with an insider's solid/i>/p>
Forget about Bernie Madoff or Gordon Gekko—there's a new villain on Wall Street…
Norb Vonnegut didn't realize how close he skirted to non-fiction when he was writing his spectacular debut Top Producer. Penned before tumultuous revelations and scandals rocked the financial world in late 2008, Vonnegut's novel depicts, with an insider's solid knowledge, the tricks that the industry's real top producers pull in their frenzied pursuit of billions. Now Vonnegut sets his electrifying follow-up in the high-rolling world of hedge funds, lending his seasoned perspective to a riveting thriller.
Jimmy Cusack is the tough kid from a blue-collar neighborhood who made good on Wall Street. Well, almost. After a sterling start to his career, things have soured. His hedge fund has collapsed. The bank is foreclosing on his upscale condominium. And his wife is two months pregnant. That's the good news. When Cusack takes a "must-have" job with Leeser Capital, a Greenwich fund impervious to the capital market woes, his real troubles begin.
Vonnegut's unique insider's perspective and his intuitive, darkly humorous writing are once again on full display in this fast-talking suspense thriller. A high-stakes poker game of a book, The Gods of Greenwich is a timely and gripping read that will keep you glued to the edge of your seat until the last card is played.
- St. Martin's Press
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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
Meet the Author
NORB VONNEGUT writes thrillers and non-fiction commentary (The Huffington Post, Acrimoney) about Wall Street behind closed doors. He has appeared on Bloomberg News as well as the Laura Ingraham and Judith Regan shows. Top Producer, his debut novel, was a featured pick of Today, SmartMoney and is published in eight languages. Norb built his wealth-management career with Morgan Stanley and other Wall Street institutions. A Harvard college and Harvard Business graduate, he splits his time between New York and Rhode Island.
Norb Vonnegut writes thrillers and non-fiction commentary (The Huffington Post, Acrimoney) about Wall Street behind closed doors. He has appeared on Bloomberg News as well as the Laura Ingraham and Judith Regan shows. Top Producer, his debut novel, was a featured pick of Today, SmartMoney and is published in eight languages. Norb built his wealth-management career with Morgan Stanley and other Wall Street institutions. A Harvard college and Harvard Business graduate, he splits his time between New York and Rhode Island.
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I have to admit that when the opportunity to review this book was presented to me I did it simply because the name Vonnegut was on it. Now I know he's just a distant cousin, but how great would it be for two (even distant) members of the same family are great authors?? I really liked Cusack, the main character. He was so likeable. He has charisma and could probably sell anything to anyone, but he never was out to get anyone (well at least until the end of the book, but I can't give that away!). His wife Emi I saw as being so cute and innocent looking, the kind of person you couldn't hate if you wanted to. I didn't care for Cy, his wife Bianca, Victor, or Rachel. But I think that was the point. Although I wouldn't do it, what Bianca does to Cy was fun to read. She went about things in the wrong way, but revenge is awesome :-) This one kept me guessing all the way through. We know Rachel is a murder but we don't really figure out how she's tied into the story for quite a while. We're told about the Art dealer and the Banker in Iceland are in huge problems of their own, and while we're clued in a bit to what's going on between them and Cy I didn't really catch on completely for quite a while. This one was so well written that I gave up even trying to guess how it would end because I was so engrossed in what was going on right now. I really liked the ending. It tied everything up pretty well, it wasn't cheesy, and it wasn't a "everyone is happy" ending. Even though this was about Wall Street, which is something I have very little interest in, the story was so engaging that even when I didn't understand what the characters were talking about I didn't feel bored by it. There was so much going on, so many different parts to the story, that it was hard not to get caught up in the middle of everything. So I picked this book because it had the name Vonnegut attached to it. Was I disappointed? NOT AT ALL! I think there's something in that blood line somewhere. I can honestly say after reading The Gods of Greenwich that two of my favorite authors share the same last name. Even though the writing was totally different it was written so well that there's really no comparison. It's like comparing your favorite jeans to your favorite desert. They're both great, which is why they're your favorites, and it would be really hard to pick which one you like better. This book was provided to me for review. This has in no way influenced my review. This review is truthful, honest, and is my sincere opinion.
This book grab me quickly and kept me interested. It is a fun fast read. Wish his other book was available on Nook.
This book goes so much farther than most financial thrillers. A really well-written picture of financial greed and a real eye-opener for the reader. Things that have not appeared so far in the financial news. Gordon Gekko's Greed is Good speech has nothing on these characters. Jim Cusack is a young trader who grew up on the streets and made out really well on Wall St. Jim's family said that they would send him to college but, when he graduated and went to work he had to promise that he would take care of his mom and two brothers and their children as they could not afford to send them all to school. After a very good start on Wall St., Jim started his own hedge fund. Unfortunately, when the financial world started to go south Jim's fund collapsed. He was about to lose his home, and his wife had just announced she was pregnant with their first child. Jim had to take a job to survive and headed off to Leeser Capital, a Greenwich Hedge Fund that doesn't seem to ever have a bad day. It is at Leeser Capital that Jim's real troubles begin. There are many hedge funds in the wealthy Connecticut town of Greenwich and their payouts are huge. Unfortunately, there are consequences that come with these payouts. Someone has to die. There are some crooked bankers in Iceland and a sheikh from Qatar involved in some of these deals that you won't believe. Also, as an extra added attraction, a hit-woman who is looking for new ways to kill people and, boy, does she really come up with some gems. This reviewer wouldn't ordinarily want to read about the financial world as it is sometimes a bit boring. But, not in this tale. Some of the schemes thought up by these traders are beyond belief. Getting back to our hero Jimmy, he is trying to get back on track and taking many chances. While the ending is a little over-the-top, you will keep on reading because you just have to know how it all turns out. Quill Says: New Economic crisis: Barbarians at the Gate for the next generation.
The first two-thirds are gripping, but the remainder of the book ends in deus ex machina and here-comes-the-cavalry.