Too Much Money: A Novel by Dominick DunneToo Much Money: A Novel by Dominick Dunne

Too Much Money: A Novel

byDominick Dunne

Paperback | September 28, 2010

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The last two years have been monstrously unpleasant for high-society journalist Gus Bailey. When he falls for a fake story and implicates a powerful congressman in some rather nasty business on a radio program, Gus becomes embroiled in a slander suit. The stress makes it difficult for him to focus on his next novel, which is based on the suspicious death of billionaire Konstantin Zacharias. The convicted murderer is behind bars, but Gus is not convinced that justice was served. There are too many unanswered questions, and Konstantin’s hot-tempered widow will do anything to conceal the truth.

Featuring favorite characters and the affluent world Dunne first introduced in People Like Us, Too Much Money is a mischievous, compulsively readable tale by the most brilliant society chronicler of our time—the man who knew all the secrets and wasn’t afraid to share them.

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 complet...
Title:Too Much Money: A NovelFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:288 pages, 8.3 × 5.2 × 0.64 inShipping dimensions:8.3 × 5.2 × 0.64 inPublished:September 28, 2010Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345464109

ISBN - 13:9780345464101


Read from the Book

IT WAS EASTER SUNDAY. LIL ALTEMUS, THE OLD guard New York society figure, was having her annual Easter luncheon party at her vast Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking Central Park. In times to come, during her financial difficulties, Lil spoke of her Easter lunch as her Farewell to Fifth Avenue party. All her Van Degan relatives, several of whom she didn’t like, and some of her closest friends, like Matilda Clarke and Rosalie Paget and Kay Kay Somerset, whom she’d known all her life, were present. “We all went to Farmington, and we all came out the same year at the Junior Assembly, and we were all bridesmaids in each other’s first weddings,” Lil said about them every year in her toast.   The star guest at the Easter luncheon was “that perfect darling,” as Lil always called Adele Harcourt, who was almost a hundred and five and was still going about in social life. “Adele was such a close friend of Mummy’s,” said Lil, who was herself seventy-five, whenever she spoke about the revered Adele Harcourt. “We think of her as practically family.” Adele was celebrated for having given two hundred million dollars to the city of New York. She made appearances in slums to watch the improvements her donations made possible. She always wore pearls and furs on these excursions to building sites. “That’s how they want me to dress,” she said to Lil on occasion. She was used to being cheered by the crowd and enjoyed her celebrity enormously.   There was also a small group of what Lil called her strays. Gus Bailey, a writer for Park Avenue magazine, used to argue that he was more than a stray. They had a curious friendship. Lil and Gus had met years earlier at the Kurt von Rautbord attempted-murder trial in Newport, Rhode Island, which Gus had covered for Park Avenue magazine. Lil, as the best friend of the comatose heiress, Antonia von Rautbord, ever since they were roommates at Farmington, was a witness for the prosecution. Gus was impressed at how unafraid Lil was on the stand when she was cross-examined by a ruthless defense attorney of national reputation.   During a break, he introduced himself to her in the hallway outside the courtroom in Newport, after she had strongly disputed the allegations made by Kurt von Rautbord’s lawyer about Antonia’s alcoholism.   “You were gutsy up there on the stand,” said Gus. “Some people get so terrified, they cry.”   “Wasn’t he awful, that lawyer? So rude. Just who does he think he is, please? I certainly wasn’t going to allow Kurt von Rautbord to say all those dreadful and deceitful things about poor sweet Antonia after he lived off her money all those years,” answered Lil. “Antonia even paid his club dues at the Butterfield, forgodssake.”   It was Lil who introduced Gus to Marina and Fritz, Antonia’s grown children from her first marriage to a Hungarian prince, with whom he became friends. It was also Lil who arranged for Gus to spend the night in the Newport mansion where the attempted murder had taken place.   Gus often said that if Lil Altemus hadn’t been born so rich and married so rich, she could have been a very good detective. Lil was always thrilled when Gus said that about her in front of others. She sometimes bragged that he discussed all the murder cases he covered around the world with her. In fact, there were those who said that Lil Altemus was Gus Bailey’s source for one of his most successful books, about the shooting of banking heir Billy Grenville at the hands of his wife, Ann.   On this Easter Sunday, however, Lil’s thoughts were concerned with her lunch party.   “We’re twenty-four in all. I’ve put you next to Adele Harcourt, Gus,” said Lil, walking around her beautifully set table, checking place cards with the expertise of a great hostess. Gus had used Lil as a character in one of his society novels, Our Own Kind, and, unlike others in New York society, she had not taken offense, nor had she stopped speaking to him, as so many had. However, she did have one quibble with her character, as Gus wrote her. She insisted every time it came up that she was very definitely not the one who had said, “Better dead than Mrs. Fayed” the day after Princess Diana was killed in the automobile accident with her lover, the very rich Dodi Fayed, in the Alma Tunnel in Paris, as Gus had quoted her as saying. She had, of course, said it.   “Adele adores meeting writers. Now, you must remember to speak up when you talk to her. She doesn’t hear well, and she hates wearing the hearing aid. She’s inclined to repeat herself a bit, but she’s divine, simply divine. You know, she was my mother’s best friend. They even worked at Vogue together back in the thirties. She’s going to be a hundred and five on her next birthday, bless her heart, and she still goes out nearly every night of the week, all dressed up and covered with jewels.”   “I’ve heard through the grapevine that it’s your birthday too, Lil,” said Gus, teasing his old friend a bit. Lil also needed a hearing aid, but Gus wasn’t about to go that far with her, as she might get upset.   “Yes, but we won’t speak about that, please.” She mouthed but did not speak the word seventy, at the same time rolling her eyes at the ancientness of the decade she was entering.   “You’d never know it,” said Gus, although he knew for a fact she was seventy-five, the same age as Antonia von Rautbord, who was still in a coma.   “You’re so sweet, Gus,” said Lil. “How are things coming along on that ridiculous lawsuit of yours?”   “Don’t minimize it to me,” said Gus. “It’s not ridiculous at all. I’m living it. It is time-consuming, expensive, and extremely nerve-racking, and I hate to talk about it.”   “I can’t imagine that awful man suing you,” said Lil.   “The terrible thing is that it’s my own fault. I fell hook, line, and sinker for a fake story. I honestly 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 have been dire. But let’s not speak about Kyle Cramden, or his terrifying lawyer. Even the mention of his name puts me into a despairing mood.”   “Poor darling Gus,” said Lil.   “I went to communion at Easter Mass this morning, a rare event for me, and prayed that something catastrophic, like a fatal auto accident, would happen to him.”   “You didn’t!” said Lil, screeching with laughter.   “No, I didn’t, but I thought of it. I don’t see a place card for Justine,” said Gus.   He had listened while Lil spoke, but at the same time he was discreetly taking in the seating arrangement at the table. It was this kind of attention to the finer points that allowed him to write the articles that everyone talked about for Park Avenue. He couldn’t turn it off. He was always searching for more details to round out a story—or, even better, the kinds of details that might start a new one.   “She’s not coming,” said Lil. “Justine doesn’t like you, Gus.”   “I know. I don’t like her, either,” said Gus.   “She thinks she was a character in one of your books.”   “She was.”   “She thinks you went to Bernie Slatkin for information after the divorce, and he told you things.”   “She’s wrong. I never discussed anything with Justine’s ex-husband. I wouldn’t put Bernie Slatkin in that position. He’s a friend of mine.”   “She thinks you did.”   “That’s her problem,” said Gus, shrugging. “Surely, I’m not the reason she’s not coming today.”   “No, of course not. She moved to Paris with her brand-new husband number three, Henri de Courcy, who paints fashionable ladies. Actually, he’s quite good. He wanted to paint me, but I said no, thank you very much, I’m much too old to be painted, and besides, Cecil Beaton painted me years and years ago, and so did Vidal-Quadras one winter in Palm Beach, and what was his name who was so divine looking who did that wonderful painting of Babe Paley?”   “René Bouché?” said Gus.   “Oh, yes. René Bouché. He was such a flirt. I can barely remember anyone’s name anymore, but René painted me, too, and that’s quite enough paintings for this old lady.”   Gus studied his friend as she moved nervously around the room, tweaking and straightening, trying to ensure perfection. Lil Altemus was tall and aristocratic. Most of her friends described her as handsome but not beautiful. Gus could see why a painter would be inclined to want her as his subject. There was something almost royal about her. She dressed in the manner of grand ladies of a certain age who once shopped from Miss Hughes at Bergdorf’s. Her clothes were both conservative and expensive, mostly in blue and black shades. As Gus looked more closely, he noticed a degree of melancholy in her expression.   “Isn’t this supposed to be your last party in this apartment?” he asked.   “Yes, that’s why it’s so sad Justine’s not here. She and Hubie literally grew up in this apartment. I’ve lived here almost forty-five years. Hubie’s dead, and Justine lives in Paris. I said to Justine on the phone last week, ‘Why don’t you fly over for a couple of days? It’s the last party in the apartment, and you grew up here.”   “I told her everyone would love to see my granddaughter, Cordelia, and I even suggested they could drive up to Farmington and register Cordelia for two years from now. After all, my mother went to Farmington; I went to Farmington; Justine went to Farmington; and now Cordelia’s going to go to Farmington. I tell you, that granddaughter of mine is simply divine. I can’t wait for her to move back to New York, where she belongs. Of course, it seems there’s no changing Justine’s mind. She says she doesn’t want to be away from Henri, but I say it’s not as if she can’t afford a quick trip over and back. After all, she got all of the Altemus money when her father died last year.”   Lil Altemus stopped fiddling with the table, rested her hands on the back of one of the twenty-four Chippendale chairs, and sighed, looking around the room, her eyes welling up with nostalgia.  

Editorial Reviews

"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 “A savagely honest presentation of the upper echelons of New York City society . . . none of whom escape Dunne’s sharp gaze.”—San Francisco Chronicle“Juicy high-society soap opera.”—Los Angeles Times“Familiar turf for Dunne fans . . . a fun romp . . . Pull up a chair at Swifty’s, order some Champagne, and enjoy.”—USA Today “A last delicious dish on the rich and famous [Dunne] knew and loved to skewer so well.”—The Boston Globe