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The Winner Maker

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  479 ratings  ·  62 reviews
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 adul
Kindle Edition, 334 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Jeff Bond (first published September 4th 2018)
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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 stude
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. ...more
The Cats’ Mother
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. W ...more
SA Krishnan
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 del
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 teach ...more
Jul 27, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Terrible book. I couldn't read it past the first few chapters because it had a ridiculous plot. Don't waste your time. ...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 teach
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.
Jul 15, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Ruthie Jones
"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
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 a ...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 the re
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.
Nicole Hughes-Chen
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
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
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 p ...more
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marc T.
Nov 09, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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 b
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 suspec ...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 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 an ...more
Laurel Cameron
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.
Jessica Gadd
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! ...more
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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 ...more

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