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The Winner Maker

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Alternate cover edition of ASIN B07H2TLWHS


Bob Fiske — the 74-year-old dinosaur who’s taught Honors English and coached varsity football for five decades — is missing.

To his Winners, class favorites Fiske designated over the years for their potential to “Live Big,” it’s heartbreaking. Fiske did more than inspire with soaring oratory; he supported their ambitions into adulthood. Four of his brightest former stars reunite to find him, putting high-octane careers on hold, slipping police barricades, racing into the wilds of Northern Michigan for clues about the fate of their legendary mentor.

Others don’t see a legend. They see an elitist whose time has passed.

When a current student — female — disappears just hours into the Winners’ search amid rumors of inappropriate meetings, the Great Man’s reputation is a shambles.

Feints, betrayal, explosive secrets from their own pasts: as facts emerge, each Winner must decide how far they’ll go for Fiske. Can the truth redeem him? Or has this cult of hyper-achievement spawned a thing so vile none of their lives will survive intact?

334 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 4, 2018

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About the author

Jeff Bond

8 books225 followers
Jeff Bond is an American author of popular fiction. His books have earned multiple starred reviews from Kirkus and BlueInk and been featured in The New York Review of Books. His 2020 release, The Pinebox Vendetta, received a gold medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards. A Kansas native and Yale graduate, he now lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters. (Who share his Kindle account, as you might guess from peeking at his bookshelf.)

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5 stars
221 (34%)
4 stars
220 (34%)
3 stars
139 (21%)
2 stars
47 (7%)
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17 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 69 reviews
Profile Image for Mackey.
1,033 reviews362 followers
December 1, 2018
The Winner Maker is a uniquely blended, cross-genre tale of the good and bad of over-achieving and the price paid to become a “winner.”

The book opens with a very dramatic scene with students gathered around their awe-inspiring honors English teacher atop the Chrysler Building in Chicago. As the high achieving students are preparing for their individual presentation, one student shocks the crowd by dangling below the glass floor by a giant magnet. However, the magnets do not hold and as the student plunges to his death, a white banner emerges proclaiming, “Live Big,” the teacher’s motto for his private group of “Winners.” Six months later, the book continues with the disappearance of this septuagenarian teacher and coach, Bob Fiske. Four of his former students, all “winners,” gather to help locate their beloved teacher. As they pursue clues to his disappearance, they must also confront secrets each holds dear, as well as the underlying tension from their own high school experience under the tutelage of Fiske. Eric, a program developer aka the “geek,” Lydia who has overcome her shyness to succeed and whose sister died on the night of their prom; Doug, the quarterback, all-star, who is now a hedge fund broker and his wife, Stephanie, perhaps the most loyal follower of Fiske who is now a successful marketing guru. Each must deal with the past in order to solve Fiske’s disappearance, but at what cost to each of them personally and professionally?

Admittedly, I quite nearly stopped reading this book after the first few chapters; not because it wasn’t well written but, rather, because I detested the characters intensely. I haven’t had such a visceral reaction to all of the main characters of a book in a really long time, however, these “winners” made me want to slap each of them! I persevered, though, and realized that the point of the first part of the book was to elicit exactly those emotions. They all were overachievers, a little too perfect, a lot too driven. I found no humanity in them whatsoever. As the book progressed, I gradually realized that for some of the characters, that perfection was a shell masquerading their insecurities, you know, just like in real life. Each had something they were hiding and how they individually dealt with their secrets and their past made the book far more than a generic thriller. Instead, the “thriller” aspect to the story took a bit of a backseat to the these character’s lives and emotional turmoil.

There were two things that kept me from giving this a perfect rating. First, while I found the characters to be beyond convincing, some of their actions were not. One had to suspend belief just a little to assume that a high school kid could get away with what Jesse did in the opening sequence. There are other examples, but that one was a little over-the-top. Secondly, I still – days later – am not entirely sure that I liked the ending. It was abrupt, extremely fitting, but a little too abrupt. Either it was the perfect ending or … well, I’m just not sure. You read it and tell me what you think!
Whether you like suspense, thrillers or a really good drama, The Winner Maker will hit all of those buttons and more. It is a fast paced read and parts of it will have you on the edge of your seat wanting more!
Profile Image for Christine .
567 reviews1,069 followers
October 16, 2018
The Winner Maker is a debut novel that I picked up on a whim from the Read Now shelf at Net Galley. I liked the sounds of the unique premise and was in the mood for a non police procedural mystery.

The story revolves around a group of young adults and their rather controversial high school mentor. The main characters (Eric, Steph, and Doug) are all Winners, deemed so by said teacher as people who would be highly successful in life. Several Winners are brought together ten years after graduation to help find their old advisor who has suddenly disappeared along with a 16-year-old girl.

For me, the first quarter of the book was a bit slow in setting up the story. After that point, I was sucked in for the remainder of the tale. I have one warning for potential readers—one must be able to suspend belief to enjoy the book. I found the believability factor to be compromised on several occasions, but after acknowledging that fact, I was able to carry on without issue and enjoy the ride.

This book covers a lot. We have scenes of corporate dealings, IT businesses, high school counselor’s offices, high school parties, happy domesticity, unrequited love, and people on the run. I just have to mention that there is a particularly gross scene that will most certainly ignite your sense of smell to new heights, and not in a good way! I’d truly like to see the expression on Mr. Bond’s face when he wrote that little vignette.

The story reveals some of the possible relationships that can develop between secondary school teachers and their students. We see the influence these mentors can wield, the reverence they command, and how easily young people can be manipulated--and not always for good causes. We are also shown that you can never totally know anyone, and sadly, that trust is a very risky thing to depend on. I really enjoyed seeing the growth of one character in particular—how this person learned from all that happened and was able to make some tough choices in order to adjust to significant life changes—actions of a true Winner.

If you are looking for something a little different with interesting characters, and you are capable of suspending belief at times, you will enjoy The Winner Maker. I did and will look forward to seeing what Mr. Bond comes up with next.

Many thanks to Net Galley and Jeff Bond for an advanced review copy of this novel. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,031 reviews2,555 followers
September 22, 2018
Over five decades, 74 year old teacher, Bob Fiske, has chosen, cultivated, and encouraged exceptional students that he designated "Winners". Bob goes missing and shortly afterwards a 16 year old girl he has been mentoring, goes missing, too. A group of four of his Winners from ten years ago, come together to find Bob and hopefully, to defend his reputation and job, when rumors hint that he may have had an illicit relationship with the girl.

Among these four former Winners, along with the school mate who brought them together to brainstorm what has happened to Bob, secrets abound, all the way back to their high school days. I found it strange that such busy, powerful business people (especially married couple Doug and Steph and their former classmate Eric) could drop everything to go look for Bob and the missing girl, since they had barely a clue as to where they might be or what happened to them. But as I got farther in the book, it becomes clear that each person has their own reasons for finding Bob and being motivated to be a part of the search.

This book is full of scheming, lies, betrayals, and much more and it's hard to see how the "good guys", if in fact there are any, will survive to tell their side of the story. It seemed slow going at first but by the 30% mark, I couldn't put the book down and stayed up way too late to read it to the end.

Thank you to Jeff Bond and NetGalley, for this ARC.
Profile Image for Donna.
164 reviews76 followers
October 11, 2018
I'm 28% done with The Winner Maker: OK, I just can't do it anymore. I hate to add another DNF to my list, but this one is so bad that I just can't go on. I made it through Chapter 9 and I have no idea what's going to happen, but who cares? It's amateurish, unbelievable, the characters are more like caricatures, and the plot is just silly. I really don't want to not finish a NetGalley book, but I'm done. Hope others like it better than I did.
Profile Image for The Cats’ Mother.
2,009 reviews118 followers
December 14, 2020
The Winner Maker is a stand-alone literary thriller set in Chicago, about a group of high-achieving former students investigating the disappearance of the mentor who pushed them to succeed. I’ve read and enjoyed all of Jeff Bond’s other books, so had been wanting to get to this one for a while, but needed to catch up with my ARCs first. He kindly sent me a signed copy as a thank you for my other reviews, but I actually read the ebook, which I had downloaded for free during a BookBub promotion. While I initially found it slow to get going, by the second half I got thoroughly caught up in the enigma of exactly what was going on, and how it would all turn out.

Steph Reece is a driven marketing executive, happily married to her high school sweetheart Doug, with two young children and a busy but comfortably affluent lifestyle. At school they were dubbed the “Winners” by their charismatic English teacher Bob Fiske - a sought-after annual honorific given to the students he regarded as most likely to, in his words, Live Big.
When 74 year-old Fiske goes missing, their former classmate Becky summons Steph, Doug and the other Winners from their year to help him avoid a scandal that might destroy his career - but then a sixteen-year old current student also disappears. Steph’s view of the man she once worshipped will be put to the test as past secrets are exposed, but then people start dying...

This was a well-written and cleverly plotted mystery, but you need patience to understand the characters and their motivations, as some are initially difficult to warm to. It took a while to understand how the dramatic prologue fits in, and I was a bit restless reading about Steph’s domestic and work life in the early chapters, but I’m glad I stuck with it as the drama ramps up later. Some aspects seemed implausible - for example that Doug & Steph would so readily leave their children and high-powered jobs to go on a wild-goose chase, but the hold that Fiske has had over them is central to the story.

Not being American, and especially living in egalitarian “everyone gets a prize” New Zealand, the idea of certain students being labelled as Winners - the implication being that the rest are therefore Losers, was rather odd, but I liked the way the novel explored whether this push for success by an influential teacher ultimately helped or harmed his Chosen Ones. High School in the US is always portrayed in fiction as such a brutal environment, that it’s no wonder that even the survivors carry the scars. I thought this was very well done and did not predict the reveal or how it would turn out at all - even though all the clues were there!

Profile Image for SA Krishnan.
Author 35 books150 followers
July 14, 2020
Enjoyed the thriller.
The story is about Bob Fiske who was a high school teacher who has mentored many students over the decade who are called as 'Winners.' Bob Fiske and the sixteen year old student whom he was teaching go missing and four of his former students get together to find him.
The plot itself was intriguing. The four students who got together were very realistic and to be honest their so-called perfection almost made them inhuman. But then all the characters have deadly secrets within them and it is obvious that the perfection is just a facade to hide the insecurities that they face. The author has done a brilliant job of portraying the characters and weaving the story together. Enjoyed it.
Profile Image for K.P. Ambroziak.
Author 13 books66 followers
December 11, 2019
For anyone who loves a good mystery Jeff Bond’s “The Winner Maker” should hit the top of your list. This well written, fast paced, perfectly plotted little gem is going to keep you enthralled and guessing. And all your theories and predictions of whodunit will fall flat. You won’t see this one coming.

But there’s so much more here: taut dialogue, flawless language, multifaceted characters that actually grow, and a pace that’s both breakneck and halting when details are necessary to build that delicious suspense. It’s the kind of book you read without realizing you’re putting in the effort, which makes it hard to put down. Had life not gotten in the way, I’d have finished this in a single sitting. It doesn’t pull you in, it wrenches.

Like every great mystery this one has an outstanding sense of place. At every turn, Bond details his surroundings and you can practically smell it, see it, hear it, taste it – okay maybe not taste … but I’d never been to any of the places mentioned, and now I have.

Plus, he plops you down in the middle of the action and says, “Hey watch this.” And you do because of the atmosphere and the relatable characters. His heroes are human in every sense – they’re flawed and inconsistent, funny and brave, and doing their best all the way through. Bond’s also willing to give you a ton of clues, which makes your hunches ridiculous because he’s got a twist for you and an elegant and rewarding solution that brings you an oh so satisfying closure. But you’ll probably want to read it again. Yes, it’s that good.
416 reviews3 followers
September 30, 2018
The Story of a group of overachievers who had been groomed by their high school teacher to become very successful in live. Even after graduation he supports this group in many different ways but not everybody is what they seem to be.
10 years after graduation this group gets back together because their beloved teacher has disappeared and they are ready to move heaven and earth to find him.
This book has a bit of everything. Typical high school atmosphere. Corporate politics. The influence a teacher can have on a student and how the students can be manipulated. Does the teacher really has the best interest at hand for his students or is their accomplishments to higher his own self worth.
The breakdown of a students self-esteem when she find a note with disappointment next to her name. Why was she a disappointment to her teacher. I loved the ending where the student finds her own strength to follow her own path. And no do go flipping to the end to see what happens because you will miss all the little twist and turns in the story. This is a great Psychological thriller.
428 reviews
July 15, 2020
Not a winner

Just couldn't read it. The book was too lame for me to get past the first few chapters. Don't waste your time.
Profile Image for Pamela.
10 reviews
July 27, 2020
Terrible book. I couldn't read it past the first few chapters because it had a ridiculous plot. Don't waste your time.
Profile Image for Joan.
3,542 reviews61 followers
December 5, 2018
This novel got off to a confusing start for me with a prologue. Around thirty pages in, however, I caught the prologue's connection to the plot and the novel took off. I like the idea of amateur people trying to solve a mystery. I like how the back story was woven into the current mystery as various characters remembered past events. I like how the truth is revealed layer by layer. We readers find out people are not who they appeared to be right along with the characters. And there is plenty of suspense, much of it coming from not knowing who the villain is and who can be trusted. There were many twists and turns that kept me engaged to the end.

I highly recommend this novel to readers who love a complex mystery that is well crafted, has well developed characters, and plenty of suspense. You'll be intrigued by the characters, surprised by the revelations, and captured by the suspense filled plot.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review.
2,119 reviews10 followers
February 25, 2019
People have many names for the important people in their lives. Mentor, leader, and in this case winner maker. A teacher steps up to help and support high school students when they need it most, encouraging them to excel. Years later, the teacher is missing and the students rally to help find him. Also missing is another student, but it's unclear when the story starts how this student fits into the overall. As the story progresses, these young men and women must work together to find their teacher. Along the way they discover the truth is not always how you see things when you are young. Jeff Bond does an excellent job of capturing readers from the start and keeping the story compelling through the end. A definite must read for everyone.
Profile Image for Kat.
52 reviews7 followers
February 8, 2019
Stunning, manipulative, like a map unfolding before you

I will, as always, leave a more through review in a few days on Instagram as well, and edit this one to mirror it.
But I've just finished The Winner Maker, surrounded by things I should have been doing instead of reading, half-full moving boxes spiralling out from me.
This is a book that sucks you in, that gives you characters to sink your teeth into. I commend Jeff Bond for his work, this was nothing short of magical.
Profile Image for Nicole Hughes-Chen.
169 reviews2 followers
September 27, 2020
It is okay

Firstly, I did not like the title or understand it; it sounds grammatically incorrect to me.

I think the beginning of the story is really hard going and it doesn't really make sense why these six people are brought together to look for a teacher who taught them nearly a decade prior - why not any other students from more recent years or even his family and friends?

The middle section where the story follows Eric is where the author comes alive. I feel like this is what he wanted to write and was more going through the motions in the first section to reach this.

It is really easy to empathise with Eric and want him to succeed, and his character is believable too.

The story towards the end is also good and it's well planned out as well, I can tell Bond took time planning and making everything fit. But the very end is disappointing. From the final scene of the abducted girl to the final scene with the person behind it, to how things are left with Steph, Eric and Fiske... All were a bit hollow and left me a little unsatisfied.

If this were the first book Bond has written I would say it shows potential, but as one book of many it would put me off reading more by Bond. Also when you compare it to the likes of Grisham it is well and truly lacking.

My advice to the author: read more!
Profile Image for Ruthie Jones.
997 reviews45 followers
December 8, 2018
"Too many loose ends. Discussion over."

The Winner Maker by Jeff Bond will keep you on the edge of your seat, long after you've finished reading. The author expertly builds the tension until you are mired in the mystery of who to trust and the thrill of trying to piece everything together. What really happened 10 years ago at Prom? While most people maintain a tenuous thread to their high school social events, the characters here are chained to that one fateful night. A night that refuses to let them go and turns all their lives upside down years later.

In The Winner Maker, nobody apparently knows the truth about anyone. Everyone is innocent, until they're not; until they betray you. Until you find out who they really are. The action doesn't stop for a second, and the story line tumbles deeper into confusion with each page. But don't despair, the writing style maintains a clear forward momentum and keeps total confusion at bay. What is left is a story that requires your full attention but is still entertaining and an absolute blast as each chapter reveals questions and answers and then even more questions. What a fabulous ride!

The characterization is spot on. The main characters and supporting characters are crafted with perfection, but I have to say that Eric is a favorite. He might not be the main protagonist, but he is dynamic in a techno-geek way that makes him both believable and endearing.

As Steph and Eric fight for their innocence and their lives, the truth painstakingly trickles out about what really went down 10 years ago and about the recent strange disappearance of the winner maker, Dr. Fiske, apparently with a teenage girl in tow. The things Steph and Eric endure as they unravel the tangled truth will leave you horrified and maybe even chuckling a little bit, but you will definitely remain riveted until the very end.

One last thought. We are all winners, until we're not. Being chosen as a winner by the illustrious Dr. Fiske does not necessarily mean you are, indeed, a winner. You may just be a selfish loser who doesn't think twice about resorting to betrayal, lies, and murder to maintain your dirty little secret. Read The Winner Maker to find out which one of those lucky "winners" that is. But remember, everyone is innocent, until they're not.
Profile Image for Cath.
951 reviews11 followers
March 3, 2019
A story that brings together some high achievers to search for their missing Honours English teacher and high school football coach, Bob Fiske. He’s 74 and still teaching, but some think he is a dinosaur and should be retired. The high achievers are called ‘Winners’, a term used by Fiske to award his favourite students, only a few being chosen each year. They followed his Winners promise of the potential to ‘Live Big’. They can’t believe that he’s gone missing and that no one is doing anything about it.

Within hours, a young female student also turns up missing and apparently had lots of inappropriate meetings with the teacher, off campus. This adds to requests for him to be fired, even before anyone can say what has actually happened to him. There are plenty of twists and surprises in this story. Some previous events are being hidden as secrets and former betrayals will come to the fore and bite some on the derrière!

Can they work well enough together to find the missing teacher and student of will thoughts of guilt break through their belief in their former esteemed coach and teacher. He is also someone who has helped many of them well into their adult and professional lives. Can they rely on each other to have their backs or are some acting more in their own hidden agendas?

Young students getting mixed up in wanting to be a winner will do things without much thought about their actions and what danger they may be in. Rash actions and secrets soon to be revealed, are out to bring down Fiske and his group of over achievers. This book has a good mix of characters, some you won’t like much, too much of a reminder of high school and the hormone led packs it brings into being. Others have their own agenda and you find this out as the story progresses.

A good enough story, with a somewhat lack lustre start which takes it’s time to get going. Once the hunt reaches its apex, the story gets very detailed and intriguing. You are left to try and work out who is behind all the actions they come across and the danger they encounter. A mystery with plenty of plot twists and secrets to wade through to find out the solution to what has happened and why. I received an ARC copy of this book from Hidden Gems and I have freely given my own opinion of the book above.
Profile Image for Priya Shrinath.
315 reviews14 followers
December 15, 2018
Please find my full review here with a Giveaway & Excerpt: https://wp.me/pajm6f-fL

Characters:

The plot circles around a group of youngsters who come together after 10 years of graduation to investigate the disappearance of their controversial old teacher, along with a 16 year old girl. The main characters are Erin, Steph and Dough who are deemed 'winners' by their high school mentor.

Narration:
The pace of the book is a bit slow along the first few chapters. I had to hold up and believe that the remainder of the story will deliver the much awaited suspense. There are several scenes that deal with domestic, corporate, businesses and a sweet love story.

Something I really liked about the narration is the evolution of characters through the plot. A very skilled writing displays the fragile yet strong relationships that could possibly develop between teachers and students in a School. Now, I know how much I adore my school life. I've had several mentors and teachers whose inspiration still sticks in many aspects of my life. This story somehow reminds me of those good old days. I guess that's why I enjoyed reading the later chapters in such a fast pace!

Plot:

A true mentor could help his students achieve growth in his life, by learning from his own mistakes and making tough choices.

Final Thoughts:
This book is recommended to those who would enjoy reading a unique plot with characters that will demand your time and patience to stick on with the plot! And then there's the old mentor whom I loved.

Many thanks to the publicists for my copy. All opinions are mine and unbiased.
Profile Image for Kate.
53 reviews2 followers
October 2, 2019
I devoured this book in a single afternoon.

This book reminded me of the movie The Breakfast Club, but 10 years later. We have the jock, the Homecoming Queen, the nerd, and the mute one all brought together to search for one man who is missing and may be a criminal.

This group was not linked by detention, but maybe the opposite: an elite group of students tapped to be Winners by the teacher/coach. When he goes missing, they all come back to help find him and hopefully clear his name of wrongdoing.

I enjoyed the story. I did not think it fit neatly into one specific genre box, but chose to read it as it sounded mysterious. It could also be a contemporary story, a thriller, or a comment on society. The characters and their relationships played a strong role in the story, thus allowing it to cross many of the genre lines. There was friendship, marriage and parenting issues, unrequited love, loyalty, elitism, high school drama and much more included in these pages.

Unlike Bond's other work (Blackquest 40), which I read earlier this year, this one was a slower story. There was time to get to know a little more about the characters and to ferret out what happened in the past and why it was germane to the mystery at hand.

I would not hesitate to recommend this book to others and will watch for future titles by this author.

Thank you to the author for a free copy in exchange for my honest thoughts about this book.
Profile Image for AndiReads.
688 reviews52 followers
September 3, 2018
Highly Recommend! I love a novels based on a school setting and this book did not disappoint. The Winner Maker is a complex story as well as a mystery filled with great characters and twisty plot lines. At the start of the novel we are introduced to a group of late 20's movers and shakers that are all part of a magical high school clique called "The Winners." The Winners are chosen and coached privately by a now septuagenarian English teacher named Mr Fiske who is famous for doing his own thing and bucking the school system. The Winners are groomed and well supported to be professionally successful and Mr. Fiske goes to extraordinarily lengths to ensure that they are successful.
Mr. Fiske is missing at the start of the novel and the race to find him and a young student who he may or may not be involved with interrupts all of the Winners' professional and personal lives. A great mystery with believable and likable characters, Enjoy the ride!
Recommends This Book

Strongly
Profile Image for LiA.
291 reviews
November 18, 2018
Now, let me figure this one out: There is suspense and speed, excellent ingredients of a real thriller - without much police involved. The characters are feasible, no clichés, individuals. Alas after the first half of the book, things get complicated. The story twists and turns, and eventually you start asking yourself whether what you read makes sense. It is difficult to give examples without spoiling the novel, thus I will limit myself to stating that I am not really convinced of some of the protagonists, including the main casts - Eric and Doug. I also wonder what the title is meant to insinuate, given that the winner maker does not play a vital part. Or does he?
The plot: A group of ex-students gather ten years after having left college and discover that neither the past nor the present is what it seems to be.
Nothing profound, but a nice and kind of entertaining read.
Thank you, Net Galley, for having made the e-book available to me.
Profile Image for Taylor.
20 reviews
September 6, 2020
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were interesting and dynamic. The story was full of intrigue - the language and imagery conveyed wonderful. I smiled and smirked regularly at different techy phrases (overclocked CPU). Eric was such a lovable tech nerd- hopelessly in love with Steph. I'm really happy with how the ending insuitates he and Ramona will be rekindling a romance. They are perfect together. And Doug is not. I did not expect to get such a hardcore deviant in Doug - and there's one critique I have an utterly crazy overreaction to a situation that did NOT require the death of multiple individuals. At worst he would have spend a couple years behind bars - probably just probation and work release. They were kids it was accidental - of course a kid would cover that up you'd be scared shitless. Anyways there are a few other critiqus I have but for the overall read and pleasure of this book I give it a solid 4 stars!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
139 reviews
November 9, 2020
I did not enjoy this novel at all, although I had high hopes based on the description. The idea behind it was great; the execution poor.
First, the grammar and syntax were not edited well. There were either many, many incomplete sentences or the author was creating his own grammatical rules. This also applies to word choice; I have never read a book where so many nouns were used as verbs, or verbs as nouns. Some of the adjectives used to describe actions just didn't make conventional sense.
Second, the description did not live up to its potential. I found it a slog to get through, not well told and boring. The action scenes were poorly described and unrealistic. The characters were unlikable.
I will probably give this author another chance because I like the description of one of his other novels but if it is executed the way this one was, I will put it down and move onto something else.
Profile Image for AndiReads.
688 reviews52 followers
August 8, 2021
Highly Recommend! I love a novels based on a school setting and this book did not disappoint. The Winner Maker is a complex story as well as a mystery filled with great characters and twisty plot lines. At the start of the novel we are introduced to a group of late 20's movers and shakers that are all part of a magical high school clique called "The Winners." The Winners are chosen and coached privately by a now septuagenarian English teacher named Mr Fiske who is famous for doing his own thing and bucking the school system. The Winners are groomed and well supported to be professionally successful and Mr. Fiske goes to extraordinarily lengths to ensure that they are successful.
Mr. Fiske is missing at the start of the novel and the race to find him and a young student who he may or may not be involved with interrupts all of the Winners' professional and personal lives. A great mystery with believable and likable characters, Enjoy the ride!
225 reviews
December 11, 2018
Bob Fiske had a knack for picking which of his students would be winners in life. But are they all winners? Are not some just losers in disguise?

After Mr. Fiske disappears along with one of his current winners, four of his former winners come together to search for him.

That is not an easy task as they all, including Mr. Fiske, are harboring secrets. Its a dangerous situation which becomes even more dangerous as the secrets begin to come out.

It definitely makes it difficult to figure out who to believe and who to trust. This is one mystery that I didn’t even come close to figuring it out. I picked up bits and pieces, but Mr. Bond took me all the way to the end without me coming up with an answer to how, what and why.

I’m looking forward to reading more books by Jeff Bond.

***Book provided without charge by PICT.***
55 reviews
June 29, 2019
This was my first Jeff Bond book and it will not be the last. If you love mystery, thriller and suspense, Jeff Bond will not disappoint.

Bond created characters you can relate. Fiske, a high school english teacher and football coach have an inner circle of kids he called as "The Winners". Everybody wants to be part of this winner's club. They are supposed to be the group who will grow up successful later in life. He disappeared along with a young high school girl.

Former "Winners" reunite to find him. Clues brought them back to "prom night". Secrets from decades ago will destroy their lives. The quest to find Fiske will test their loyalty toward him and to each other. Who can they trust? Will they be able to survive these events and still have their lives intact?

Jeff Bond will keep you guessing until the end.
896 reviews23 followers
December 11, 2018
The effect of high school, relationships, status, reputation, expectations, and regrets all come to a head in this murder mystery. Being designated as a “Winner” by veteran English teacher (see Robin Williams in “Dead Poets’ Society”) Mr. Fiske is so important to the eighteen-year olds, and the label propels and/or haunts them as they age. When Fiske turns up missing along with one of his students, Winners are re-united to find their mentor. The plot progresses very well as Winners become suspects, relationships are examined, and a high school death is shown to be related to present-day. circumstances. I received an advanced digital copy through #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Heather Stein.
25 reviews3 followers
October 21, 2019
Bond's novel is an entertaining and quick read that I was able to complete on a 4-hour flight. The plot has a good number of twists, and the characters grapple not only with the mystery of the missing educator, but also their roles in each others' adult lives. While the story is not going to be up for a Novel Prize, it compares favourably to the "one of us is visiting a high school reunion" episode in any long-running police procedural. Less formulaic, that's for sure. The red herrings are less obvious and the false-starts more compelling than what we get from the writers on a show like NCIS.
80 reviews
July 28, 2020
There were sufficient turns and twists to keep me guessing until the end. I was disappointed that there really was no "growth" for anyone; no one moved forward and became a better person. The adored teacher was really a manipulator who used the students and played them against each other even into adulthood. There was one section that was simply disgusting and added nothing to the story. I didn't like any of the people. It was pretty well written but there were sentence fragments which I find annoying. I might read another book by Bond but it isn't a priority to search him out.
Profile Image for Dawn.
129 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2022
This book was sadly like a balloon filled with air instead of helium. It was so pumped full then failed to take off. The premise was decent - a teacher picked his favorites (aka the Winners) in each class. When said teacher goes missing a group of former Winners reunite to solve the mystery of his disappearance.
The writing was just a bit bland (almost amateurish). There was a lack of consistency that was a bit off-putting. Everything felt stilted - the writing, the characters, their relationships. Perhaps with an edit & a bit of a rewrite this could be a really good book!
134 reviews
August 18, 2020
This was a solid read which moved along well but had some leap points that the reader just had to swallow and move on from (ex: the main characters continuously outsmart the police for days). The twists and turns were good in that they kept you guessing and the general plot was a bit different if slightly throw back for a certain age person. Not sure if I would read another book by this author but this was good enough not to DNF. Solid Who Dunnit.
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