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The Winner Maker

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  62 ratings  ·  32 reviews
"Thrilling ... an exhilarating and emotionally astute mystery." - Kirkus Reviews

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
Kindle Edition, 334 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Jeff Bond
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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
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
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
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
Oct 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
K.P. Ambroziak
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Denice Langley
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Ruthie Jones
"Too many loose ends. Discussion over."

The Winner Makerby 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
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Priya Shrinath
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Please find my full review here with a Giveaway & Excerpt:


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.

The pace of the book is a bit slow along the first few chapters. I had to hold up and believe that
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
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.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Andrea Dinan
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Doug Yonce
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Heather Stein
Oct 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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 ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bond nails it with this book! It sucked me in quickly and had me up late at night to finish it. The pacing was spot on, and the characters possessed enough complexity to make them believable. All in all, a perfect whodunit with additional depth to make you ask yourself, “what does it mean to learn or to be taught?”
Jessica Gadd (love_my_dane_dolly_)
The Winner Make is a great read for anyone looking for a good mystery novel. It's based on a group of students who come together 10 years after high school to find their missing teacher. Although it was a bit of a slow start for me, it picked up mid way through and I was hooked. Great characters and plot!
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audible:I enjoyed this book.A decade old death that was coverd up is about to come to light and the real culprit can not let that happen. Natalie Duke and Brandon Paul Eells were fine narrators.I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.' ...more
Ray and Tami Klotz
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great Read

Mr. Bond does an excellent job with character development. He makes you feel like these are real people that you know and care about. This book is a real page Turner with lots of turns and twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Not all winners win.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
High School High Achievers

A teen coming of age story turns to a far fetched adventure in and around Chicago. I lot of violence, intrigue and crime solving
The Literary Apothecary
Jeff skillfully navigates each character through many subplots, as they inch toward solving the ultimate mystery. This story is indeed complex, and with the help of the narrator, you will not get lost in the many twists and turns.

The work is a brilliant, slow-burn mystery. With not a strand out of place, this winner of a story is woven tightly until the last page.
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
Compelling thriller, reminiscent of Harlan Coben. A beloved teacher goes missing along with a student. When a band of former students bands together to solve this mystery, all is not as it seems.

Review copy given from NetGalley
Cathy  Inboden
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was very interesting. It was a hard book to put down. It is worth 5 stars. I hated it ended.
Nov 22, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: half-read
I was reading, for almost a whole month, this book, but in the end I allowed myself to add another Half-read in my list.
I liked the story a lot, a teacher and a student went missing. Mystery. My favorite. But I don't like books with so many characters, and so many useless details. My worst.
The winner maker had a lot of Characters, almost every chapter had a lot of details for each one of them. A good mystery novel should allow the reader to focus in the main story, and just add spicy details.
Sam Ehresman
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this genre of books. I was sucked in by page 10! I look forward to reading the rest of it! I like the authors writing style. This is going to be one of those books I can't put down!
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a strange book and one I didn't find easy to finish. I'm not sure if that's down to the very American language and references, or, it's just a difficult book to read. Either way, it's not an easy read; A professor who has a history of identifying favourites called 'Winners' goes missing and then so does a student.
A group of 4 of his previous 'Winners' club together to solve the mystery.

There are some frankly unbelievable situations, but, it does move along nicely and each of the 4 have
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Jeff Bond is the author of The Winner Maker and Blackquest 40. He lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters—one of whom he shares his Kindle and Goodreads bookshelf with, if you're wondering—and belongs to the International Thriller Writers association.

As a student at Yale, I told friends I wanted to write a novel. I’d grown up racing through all the Clive Cussler and Margaret Truman in