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Top Producer: A Novel of Dark Money, Greed, and Friendship [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Norb Vonnegut , Mel Foster
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 15 2009
In a world that moves as fast as finance does, top producers have to think three steps ahead and make snap decisions. Theirs is a blurred version of reality, one that conceals moves as much as it rewards the bold ones. All too easily, scams can be disguised as success, and plotting can be mistaken for killer instincts. And as Grove O'Rourke finds out, "Nothing obscures vulnerability like success. Nothing that is, except for friendships."

But this book isn't about stocks and bonds—it's about people. It's about Grove O'Rourke, top producer at the investment firm of Sachs, Kidder, and Carnegie, and about his best friend, Charlie Kelemen, whose spectacular murder is carried out in front of hundreds of horrified party-goers at the opening of the novel. It's about Charlie's widow, who comes to Grove for help after her husband's death, even though she's hiding a dark secret. And it's about how money—vast sums of money—can cover up even the most glaring imperfections in relationships and fool everyone.

Well, almost everyone.

With the ease of someone who has lived in the world of top producers, Norb Vonnegut has crafted a sharp, dark thriller that will make you think—and then double-check your investments.

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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." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review

From the Back Cover

TOP PRODUCERS  think three steps ahead and make snap decisions. Theirs is a blurred version of reality, one that conceals motives or rewards bold moves. All too easily, scams can be disguised as success; plotting can be mistaken for killer instincts. And it’s all fun and games—until someone gets hurt.

“The gold standard for financial thrillers.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Grove O’Rourke is one such top producer at an elite investment firm. His job is his life. His colleagues are like family. One of them, Charlie, is legend—larger than life both in business and physique, loved by everyone. At least it seems that way, until his spectacular murder is carried out in front of hundreds of horrified party-goers…

“Shockingly accurate.”—Bloomberg on the Economy

Charlie was Grove’s best friend, and he’ll do anything to help his widow. But she appears to be hiding a dark secret… Soon, Grove stumbles upon a web of false statements and forged documents, and learns the truth about Charlie’s dealings—and those clients whose lives drastically changed the instant they signed a dishonest deal. And what he discovers is how money—vast sums of money—can bring out the best and worst in people. And sometimes even drive them to kill…

“An entertaining debut…about the cutthroat world of finance.”
SmartMoney magazine

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Producer Nov. 9 2009
Format:Hardcover
This is an absolutely terrific book , I could not put it down , I sure hope he writes more books and fast.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  88 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars stomach churning May 31 2009
By M. S. Butch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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!)
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserves to be a huge bestseller June 20 2009
By HeyJudy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting twist on whodunit murder mystery, highly recommended!! July 19 2009
By D. Richardson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally Wall Street has its John Grisham Aug. 24 2009
By Kevin Kingston - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There's A Good Book Here... July 8 2009
By C.Wallace - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
There's a good book here if you trim away the excessive jargon and inadequately explained concepts. I'm sure there are many thousands of people who know all about the stock, banking, and investment terms that author Norb Vonnegut uses, but there are many millions (myself included)who have only a limited expertise here. Vonnegut does offer explanations on occasion, but it's hit and miss. It just seems to me that Vonnegut (Harvard MBA, years of experience at Morgan Stanley and Paine Webber) is trying to overwhelm the reader with his "insider" knowledge.

There's a good book here if you cut several of the characters. People who do seem essential to the plot include the narrator, Grover ("Grove") O'Rourke, a self-described "top-producer" of multi-million dollar stock deals; Charlie Kelemen, the victim of a bizarre "murder-by-shark" plot; Kelemen's grieving (or is it scheming?) widow; a few of O'Rourke's colleagues and customers in the pressure-cooker world of high finance; a couple of the victims of a Ponzi scheme; and the mastermind behind the murder. But I often found myself trying to recall how other characters fit in. I didn't really care enough to go back in the book to check.

Indeed, there's a good book here if you whittle away most of the first two thirds. The last third is taut and exciting; the earlier part of the book often drags along after a rather dramatic introduction.
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