In haste we looked for a sweet snack and grabbed this on the equivalent of an impulse buy at the cash register. The Winner is one of those shiny-cover, raised-letter jobs you see on the airport bookstore shelves. David Baldacci I hadn’t read for some time, and now remember why.
The novel’s lynchpin is a rigged national lottery which makes a multi-millionaire out of a trailer-trash young woman with a little girl to look after and a doper husband who’s gotten him and her into a world of trouble. The lottery-rigger is an admittedly original villain who seems to be everywhere all the time. Forced to live abroad under an assumed name because her husband’s misdeeds have made her a fugitive–a fact our villain uses to great effect–she can’t reveal her name or situation even to her daughter.
Luckily–as in so many instances in this contrived novel–she’s blessed with a loyal sidekick who protects her without demanding romance. Finally, after ten years, she ventures back home to the USA. Complications ensue. There are many unbelievable and unintendedly comic moments in the book. In one, she’s taking a shower, having just met an attractive man and bone without sex for ten years. She gets horny, seems to not to quite understand what’s happening or what to do about it. Poor plotting, bad psychology. In the crucial chase scene, we find three folks pursuing/escaping their way down a flooding stream. Before long, all three are holding on to each other in a vertical arrangement worthy of the three stooges–then the branch breaks. The final authorial indignity is visited upon us when after the poor girl seems stripped of all riches but then ends up with an extra hundred million that’s been stashed away in Switzerland that neither the IRS nor anyone else has noticed. Please.