Friday, August 15, 2008

David Baldacci: The Winner

I remembered The Winner as being one of my favorite David Baldacci books. So I decided to re-read it. I did not remember much. But I did remember that it was about someone fixing the lottery. And I remembered that someone caught on because for a twelve month period none of the winners went bankrupt. I always thought it was in interesting commentary that most lottery winners lose everything within a couple years, and end up worse than when they started. But then I’ve never been a big fan of the lottery – a tax on people who are bad at math.

So the mysterious Mr. Jackson approaches LuAnn Tyler and offers her a guaranteed $100 million lottery win. She is down and out, with a baby girl and abusive boy friend. Ultimately she accepts, but due to a pending murder charge, she needs to change her identity and leave the country.

Jackson’s only stipulation is that he gets to manage the money, with a generous guaranteed return to her, for ten years. Then she gets the principle. Jackson agrees to help her change her identity and escape, but she has to agree to never file taxes, and never return to the United States.

Not surprisingly, considering that this is a Baldacci novel, Jackson is a thoroughly ruthless character. Ten years later, when LuAnn violates her agreement, and returns to the US, although under her changed identity, Jackson decides to take action. At this point we also meet Matthew Riggs, who also seems to have a shadowed past. Can LuAnn let him help? Can someone with $100 million and no past find romance? Can she survive long enough to enjoy wealth or romance?

The Winner has plenty of action, an interesting heroine, and a memorable bad guy. It’s a good story and a fun read. And it’s hard to put down.

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