Top Producer: A Novel of Dark Money, Greed, and Friendship Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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"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.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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!)
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!
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.
Norb, stop in Station Plaza Wine & Spirits in town for a Prosecco on the house.
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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