Gods of Greenwich

by Norb Vonnegut

{No star or biohazard rating because this is not a science/medical thriller}

Year published: 2011
Category: financial / Wall Street thriller

SUMMARY (from author’s website):

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 collapsed. The bank is foreclosing on his condominium. And his wife is two months pregnant. That’s the good news. When Cusack takes a “must-have” job with LS Capital, a fund impervious to capital market woes, his real troubles begin. Both Cusack and his wife find their lives in jeopardy as they uncover grim secrets that will make you forget Bernie Madoff or Gordon Gekko.


In his second novel, author Norb Vonnegut continues to do for the world of finance what Robin Cook (and others) do for the world of medicine. He gives us a thrilling story steeped in the culture, setting, and dialog of a specialty field: high finance / Wall Street. The picture Vonnegut portrays of the Wall Street mindset is both frightening and fascinating. Greed isn’t merely good, it is the only thing. No matter how much money you have, you need more. Ostentation rules. Yet another force is also at play in these glorified gambling careers: no matter how much success you have, you’re one stock market crash from failure.

Vonnegut’s books (this one and Top Producer) are both populated with well-drawn characters who truly live up to the word “character”. They are quirky, memorable, sometimes vile, sometimes likable, sometimes both.

As far as the plot goes, the summary above says enough. Obscure financial instruments and deals drive the plot, but what matters is how these are merely tools of war in a high-stakes battle among Icelandic bankers, Qatari princes, Wall Street financiers, and of course our hero Jimmy Cusack, who is caught between a rock and a hard place from page one.

Gods of Greenwich excellently fills a niche in the thriller genre for stories set in the high-stakes world of global finance.  What I particularly enjoy about Vonnegut’s books is his ability to create a world that he personally knows well (having worked in wealth management for decades) and show it to us.

About Greenwich, Connecticut, heart of the hedge fund industry:

When the weather grows hot, baskets of pomegranate begonias hang from black lampposts that look like exclamation points for everything perfect.

A favorite bit of dialogue:

“Just remember, Cusack.  There are two kinds of people in the world.  The ones who make money.”


“Oxygen thieves.”

A favorite quote:

The problem was money, which Victor guzzled three zeros at a time.

Parent alert: some graphic violence/murders and sex

Key words: short sale, hedge fund, life insurance settlements

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