Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > Top Producer: A Novel of Dark Money, Greed, and Friendship

Top Producer by Norb Vonnegut
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Jun 09, 2014

liked it
bookshelves: mystery, amazon-vine, so-boring-it-s-boring, it-s-not-you-it-s-me, thriller
Read in August, 2009

"Stuff shows up when people die"

NOTE: I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program

I've never read a financial thriller, but I thought I'd give it a whirl, as the Vine program was offering it.

Grover O'Rourke is a top producer at SKC financial firm on Wall Street, but when his friend, Charlie Keleman, dies in a freak accident, he finds himself caring for his friend's widow, Sam, and turning up a lot of skeletons.

I Liked:
I must commend Vonnegut on his usage of the first person style. It was superbly done and beautifully showcased our protagonist, Grover O'Rourke. Grover is a well-done character, interesting, with funny epithets, a unique perspective of the world, and his own burdens, from the deaths of his wife and daughter eighteen months ago. He is sympathetic, you feel for him as he tries to weedle his friend and Charlie's widow, Sam, out of the mess.

Another character I found myself strangely attracted to was Cruncher. Flamboyantly gay, this hairstylist bucked his stereotype by being a former military (I believe Marine, but I don't want to lie!). I was astonished at how well this worked, however, odd it seemed, and wished he appeared more frequently.

The story was intelligent. It was obvious that Vonnegut knew exactly what he was writing about. And I felt much of the time as if I were a part of the culture, immersed in the world of Wall Street. For someone who's staple reading is science fiction, this is commendable.

At about the two-thirds point, the intensity picks up. I couldn't put the book down, wanting to learn what the heck happened (I had sorta guessed but it's always neat to see how it ends and if you are right).

I Didn't Like:
I know almost zero about Wall Street, stocks, and all that other stuff. So when the author starts info dumping, 99% of it goes up, over, in Coriolis Circles around my head. Most of his explanations aren't helpful, and I found them to impede the flow of the story. I mean, I may not be able to understand 100% of what happens, but if the story flows well and doesn't rely too heavily on concepts, I should be able to enjoy, right? But alas, when the author breaks from the story and stops to try to explain the importance of whatever has come up, the flow is lost and so is the reader. At least that's how I felt.

The first two-thirds of the book is sluggish. You end up dragging through lots of finance-ese and background stories for all these characters. Some of it is important; others not so much.

The conclusion was hasty, rather wrapped up helter-skelter. The chumminess of the cops with Grover felt plum out of a Nancy Drew book; fortunately, we didn't have to hear a complete recap of who did what and how and why (like you find in a lot of children's mysteries). Also, how Grover and Annie turned out was way too predictable (though I will say, better done than I have seen elsewhere).

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Apparently, stockbrokers are fond of copious four letter words. As I don't work in Wall Street, I won't say whether or not that is likely and only raise the flag to words like d***, h***, and f-bombs.

Grover discovers gay porn on Charlie's computer. Another character is revealed to be having an affair. Sex stories are said to be the staple of office gossip. But nothing graphic is referenced whatsoever.

Charlie's death is gruesome to say the least. The sharks go at him...and well, lemme just say that they had to have a closed casket funeral.

Overall:
It's hard to give an opinion about this book. I found it a challenge to go through, but that was because I know almost nothing of stocks and Wall Street. So when it came to the (numerous) huge sections about this, I would skim over, not having a clue what was being said. But I enjoyed Grover, his search for the truth, and the mystery.

To be fair, I give this a three stars. If you like financial thrillers, then this might pique your interest (har har); otherwise, I would probably recommend to give this a pass.
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04/13/2016 marked as: read

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