Too Much Money

Too Much Money


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"My name is Gus Bailey...It should be pointed out that it is a regular feature of my life that people whisper things in my ear, very private things, about themselves or others. I have always understood the art of listening."

The last two years have been monstrously unpleasant for high-society journalist Gus Bailey. His propensity for gossip has finally gotten him into trouble -- $11 million worth. His problems begin when he falls hook, line, and sinker for a fake story from an unreliable source and repeats it on a radio program. As a result of his flip comments, Gus becomes embroiled in a nasty slander suit brought by Kyle Cramden, the powerful congressman he accuses of murder, and he fears it could mean the end of him.

The stress of the lawsuit makes it difficult for Gus to focus on the novel he has been contracted to write, which is based on the suspicious death of billionaire Konstantin Zacharias. It is a story that has dominated the party conversations of Manhattan's chattering classes for more than two years. The accused murderer is behind bars, but Gus is not convinced that justice was served. There are too many unanswered questions, such as why a paranoid man who did not go anywhere without bodyguards was suddenly left without protection the very night he perished in a tragic fire. Gus believes the answers lie with Konstantin's hot-tempered and vengeful wife, Perla. He intends to uncover the truth, even though doing so will gain him another dangerous enemy.

In true Dominick Dunne fashion, Too Much Money is peppered with thinly veiled fictions, keeping readers guessing about the real-world villains and intrigues that lie beneath its chapters. Dunne revives the world he first introduced in his mega-bestselling novel People like Us, and he brings readers up-to-date on favorite characters such as Ruby and Elias Renthal, Lil Altemus, and, of course, the beloved Gus Bailey. Once again, he invites us to pull up a seat at the most important tables at Swifty's, get past the doormen at esteemed social clubs like The Butterfield, and venture into the innermost chambers of the Upper East Side's most sumptuous mansions.

Too Much Money is a satisfying, mischievous, and compulsively readable tale by the most brilliant society chronicler of our time -- the man who knows all the secrets and isn't afraid to share them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307712332
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/28/2009

About the Author

Dominick Dunne was the author of five bestselling novels, two collections of essays, and The Way We Lived Then, a memoir with photographs.  He had been a special correspondent for Vanity Fair for twenty-five years, and the host of the television series Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege, and Justice. He passed away in 2009 after completing Too Much Money.

Read an Excerpt


A few years ago there was a rumor about me that I had been murdered at my house in Prud'homme, Connecticut, by a cross-country serial killer of rich older men. Of course, it wasn't true, although it was a rumor that lingered for awhile. Gus Bailey was dead. There was indeed a serial killer at the time, who was very much in the news. He had just killed a couturier in Miami who was so famous that Princess Diana and Elton John and his husband attended the funeral in Milan. I confess now to have been the person who started the rumor. I couldn't figure out how to finish a novel I was writing at the time, and I wanted desperately to leave the next day for the Cannes Film Festival with Stokes Bishop, my editor at Park Avenue magazine, who assured me in advance that I was to be seated between the French film star Catherine Deneuve and Princess Olga of Greece at the magazine's party at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes. I didn't want to miss that. So I just grabbed the headline news of the murder in Miami and added Gus Bailey to the killer's list, thus ending the novel, and I flew to France. Do I regret having done that? Yes.

My name is Augustus Bailey, but I am called Gus Bailey by everyone who knows me. It happens that I am often recognized by strangers on the street, or in public places, and even those people call me Gus. I only use Augustus Bailey on my passport, my driver's license, the covers of the books I write, my monthly diaries for Park Avenue magazine, and the weekly introductions on my cable television series, Augustus Bailey Presents, which I host. I thought it best to tell you a bit about myself, before I get into the story that I am about to tell. It should be pointed out that it is a regular feature of my life that people whisper things in my ear, very private things, about themselves, or others. I have always understood the art of listening.

The characters in all my novels are based on real people, or combinations of real people, and they are often recognizable to the readers. Many of the ones who recognized themselves in the books became livid with me. If you could have heard the way Marty Lesky, the Hollywood mogul, who has since died, yelled at me over the telephone. There was a time when I would have been paralyzed with fear at such a call from Marty Lesky, but that time has passed. It made him more furious that I was not writhing with apologies, but the dynamic between us had changed over the years and I no longer feared him, as I used to fear male authority figures, going all the way back to the terror my father inspired in me as a child, but that's another story. I've lost several friends over my books. One I missed. One I didn't.

Losing the occasional friend along the way goes with the writer's territory, especially if the writer travels in the same rarefied circles he writes about, as I do. In time, some people come back. Pauline Mendelson did. She was a very good sport about the whole thing. Mona Berg did, sort of. Cecilia Lesky did. Maisie Verdurin adored being a character in one of my books and bought fifty copies to give as Christmas presents. Others didn't, of course. Justine Altemus, my great friend Lil Altemus's daughter, never spoke to me again. Only recently, Justine and I were seated side by side at a dinner dance at the Colony Club, celebrating Sandy Winslow's 90th birthday, and we never so much as looked in each other's direction for the hour and a half we were table companions.

Now I intend to give myself a party on the occasion of my upcoming birthday, a milestone birthday, which I must confess I never thought I would reach, especially in the last two years of stress and high anxiety, leading to a heart malfunction and hospital stay. This was all caused by a monstrously unpleasant experience involving some monstrously unpleasant people, who had no place in my life and took up far too much time in it, particularly when the years left to me are dwindling down to a precious few, as Walter Huston used to sing.

But it is a fact that the fault was mine. I fell hook, line, and sinker for a fake story from an unreliable source. I thought I had the scoop of my career, and I made the fatal mistake of repeating it on a radio show of no importance, and the consequences were dire. If you must know, I accused a Congressman, former Congressman Kyle Cramden, of knowing more than he was admitting about the case of the famous missing intern, Diandra Lomax. I made a mess, I tell you. I try hard not to think about it, and as of late, my attention has been focused more on party planning. When my birthday party list grew to over three hundred, and I was only at the P's, I realized I would have to rethink things. I know entirely too many people. Although I have several very serious enemies in important positions, I hope not to appear immodest when I say that I am a popular fellow, who gets asked to the best parties in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Paris, and goes to most of them.

I decided to limit my party to eighty-five people, which is the age that I will soon be. It is so difficult to hone my friends to eighty-five. It doesn't even scratch the surface. Eighty-five, in fact, really means forty-something, with wives, husbands, lovers, and partners, making up the other forty or so. There will be hurt feelings, to be sure. That's why I don't like to give parties. I go about a great deal in social life, but I never reciprocate. The spacious terrace of my penthouse in the Turtle Bay section of New York City, where I have lived for twenty-five years, has a view of the East River, and could easily hold a hundred people or more without much of a squeeze, but I have never once entertained there.

I feel now, however, as if I deserve a party. I have emerged from the dark cloud that has hovered over my life for several years. The unpleasantness is, thank God, behind me. Hence the desire for a celebration, although my birthday party will never take place, as you will find. Things happen. Everything changes.

I've noticed that concurrent with the growth of my public popularity, there is a small but powerful group of people who are beginning, or have already begun, to despise me. Elias Renthal, still in federal prison in Las Vegas as this story begins, is one of my despisers. Countess Stamirsky, Zita Stamirsky to her very few friends, is another who despises me after I refused to write about her son's suicide from a heroin overdose while wearing women's clothes at the family castle in Antwerp.

And, of course, there is Perla Zacharias, allegedly the third richest woman in the world, who had me followed by investigators trained by the Mossad in Israel, and falsely claimed that I had been involved in an act of child molestation at the Empress Eugenie Hotel in Biarritz during her husband's murder trial. That's the kind of person Perla Zacharias is. That's the kind of story she spreads.

I have written about all these powerful people in Park Avenue, or in a novel, and earned them eternal enmity. Their time would come, I always thought. Elias Renthal knew what he was screaming about when he said, They're going to get you, his face all red and ugly, as he pointed his finger in my face, only moments before he collapsed on the floor of the men's room of the Butterfield Club.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"The only person writing about high society from inside the aquarium."   —Tina Brown

"Readers mourned Dunne's passing in August 2009, bereft at the thought of life without his keen novels and incisive Vanity Fair profiles...But Dunne grants us one more good read...[his] glittering high-society satire harbors sorrow at its heart as [his] burdened hero ponders his secrets and regrets."—Booklist

"On full display here, Dunne's jaded eye for the foibles of the ultraspoiled, his stylish wit and eavesdropper's ear—they are among the many reasons he is sorely missed."—Kirkus Reviews

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Too Much Money 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
emmi331 More than 1 year ago
I've never quite understood Mr. Dunne's obsession with the denizens of New York City's high society. This is basically a repeat of his earlier books....the reader keeps company for 275 pages with the morally challenged and undeservedly wealthy who have little to do but go from one dinner party, lunch, or charity gala to another. Once at these venues, they talk endlessly about other dinner parties, lunches, etc. and who did or said what to whom. People with infantile names like Dinkie, Dodo, Kay Kay, Winkie, and Figgy (I am not making this up) hold vapid conversations with all the depth of a parking-lot puddle. And this is what the entire book is about - empty-headed nitwits and their hangers-on yakking about each other, celebrating their own social status, and doing anything to hang on to it. Frankly, I don't know why anyone would want to attain these "heights" of society, where the air is less rarified than rancid. I'd be kicking and screaming to get out. If the author meant this to be a send-up or skewering of these self-absorbed folk, it doesn't happen - this reader was just weary of their company by the end of the book.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Dominick Dunne's last book could have been a hale farewell, but, at least in my opinion, he should have left well enough alone. A Roman a clef can be loads of fun when done well, but here I see a rush job that gave little thought to the reader. Sure, he skewers here and there, but little of it resonates. It can be easy to poke fun at the rich, so the measure of a good writer is the one who refines it to an art, where the skewering has a sizzle to it that the average writer can't attain. Dunne has shown that he can do it, why else so many ruffled feathers at his previous books? Here, it just doesn't seem that his heart was in it. Too Much Money is formulaic and trite. Sorry to say.
HeidiDew More than 1 year ago
Dominick Dunne died in 2009. He left us with his last book, "Too Much Money". If you're a fan of Nick Dunne's writing, you'll be happy to re-meet Gus Bailey and his cast of wealthy misbehaving characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the references to old-school social climbing but one character blended into another. Too much same-old/same-old and did not measure up to Dominick Dunne's previous books.
etxgardener on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved Dominick Dunne and his monthy diary was always the first thing I read when I received my copy of Vanity Fair magazine. It's been a while since we've had a novel from him, so it was a delight to pick this up & find all my old friends fom his other novels of society manners - Lil Altemus, Adele Harcourt, & Elias & Ruby Renthal. All of Dunne's novels are roman a clef & this one is especially transparent, especially if one has been following Dunne's obsessions in his magazine columns.This is not deep reading. Instead it's like diving into a giant box of excellent chocolate and not stopping until every last piece has been eaten. Sadly Dunne has gone to his great reward, so this will be the last of his highly enjoyable novels. In his memory I may go back and read all his earlier ones over again.
saratoga99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I read Dominick Dunne¿s last literary gift to us, Shakespeare¿s phrase from HAMLET, lightly and insistently scampered through my mind. An appropriate farewell, I thought, to Dunne¿s veiled insights into the rich, infamous, and legendary. Who better than Shakespeare to bid, Adieu¿¿"...Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellowof infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hathborne me on his back a thousand times; and now, howabhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims atit. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I knownot how oft. Where be your gibes now? yourgambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not onenow, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, lether paint an inch thick, to this favour she mustcome; make her laugh at that..."Thank you, Mr. Dunne. We will miss you.
Sararush on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm glad that Dunne found the time while fighting cancer to put together this last novel. It brings back a few favorites who've exploits I've come to relish in previous Dunne works: Gus Bailey, the thinly veiled self portiture of Dunne who is being sued for slander, Elias and Ruby Renthal, the fility rich couple who are again trying to buy their way into the New York high society after Elias' release from prison, and Lil VanDegan, a high society snob humbled by the forced down sizing of her life style. There are also some newbies to the scene that I didn't recognize: Adison Kent, a promiscus gay "walker" who gets access to society on the arms of fashionable women and Perla Zacharias, a women who Gus is writing about after the suspicious death of her husband. Dunne doesn't try very hard to pull all of these stories together especially during the first half of the novel where beyong attending the same parties the characters do not interact much at all. But he does put in a lot of treats for his long time fans, and gets a lot off of his chest. Too Much Money feels likes an extended goodbye. I, for one, will be whole heartedly disapointed that I will never be able to delve into a fresh Dunne novel. Please note that I "read" the audio version so please forgive the misspelling of any names.
Kellyannbrown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dunne's last book, this one is a zinger. I'm not sure I recognize all the people (they would be crushed). I enjoyed the time I spent with the crowd that exists in higher ether. They squabble, fart, go to and get out of prison (excuse me, a facility), have parties, take lovers, write letters, die and have funerals. It was a fast read.
photomarg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Typical Dominick Dunne society novel, with thinly-disguised characters drawn from real life. A little bittersweet, as this is his last novel and the "autobiographical" narrator deals with end-of-life issues also. An enjoyable, light read and I'll miss having new ones occasionally.
Fernandame on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Audiobook - A book about the socialites didn't enjoy it.
herschelian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disappointing. I've always enjoyed Dominick Dunne's books but this one just wasn' t up to scratch. Maybe because he was battling cancer when he wrote it, maybe because whatever the manuscript he left behind had not been honed enough, we'll never know. I certainly think he was ill-served by his editor and publisher. The repetitive descriptions about the characters became embarrassing, just left in to pad out the text I suspect - in some cases whole phrases or sentences were repeated. If this is the only book by DD you've ever read, don't give up on him, try one of his others - The Two Mrs Grenvilles is a cracker.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
Park Avenue magazine gossip columnist Augustus "Gus" Bailey knows better than to open one's mouth on an unfinished story, but he does on the radio. Gus accuses Congressman Kyle Cramden in the disappearance of his intern. Outraged, Cramden sues Gus for slandering him and demands $11 million. An octogenarian, Gus fears his big mouth will leave his family with nothing when he dies. He turns to his other occupation, a novelist writing Infamous Lady based on a real homicide. While someone has been convicted of murdering wealthy banker Konstantin Zacharias who suffered from ALS in an arson fire at his Biarritz home, his beautiful widow Perla was never considered a person of interest by the cops. Gus' inquiry bothers Perla who inherited a fortune so has become too big to fail at annihilating others. Rather than litigation, Perla uses amoral tactics to destroy Gus. The fascination in this entertaining novel is Dominick Dunn's lampooning his other vocation as a gossip crime columnist having no real meaning especially when defending your life at the heavenly weighing station (kudos to Albert Brooks). Although the exaggerated portrayals of the key characters are over the top of the Empire State Building and adversely impact the extremely thin plot, fans of the late author's column will enjoy the hyperbole as Mr. Dunne skewers the rich and famous. Harriet Klausner
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