What would you do to change your life? LuAnn is beautiful, young and dirt poor. She's married to a low-level drugs dealer whose infidelities and incompetent double-dealing put her and her child's lives at risk. Enter master-criminal "Jackson" who offers her vast wealth if she agrees to help him fiddle the lottery. She refuses until she finds herself on the run from false charges of murder. After years abroad she returns because she wants her daughter to be an American teenager. Can she escape the FBI, an inquisitive journalist and the murderous and endlessly ingenious Jackson?
The Winner is a departure for Baldacci. LuAnn is as plucky and resourceful as the heroines of Absolute Power and Total Control, but the plot she inhabits is a new departure for him. Normally he shows us a dark vision of how things really work, but here he brings to life and makes plausible what might have been pulp cliches. As in the description of Jackson, a master of disguise: "Sitting across from her was her double, or the double of the woman she had just become. The same short red hair, facial complexion, crooked nose, everything--it was as though she had suddenly discovered a twin". What's more, his method of rigging lotteries is clever and convincing enough to worry lottery organisers the world over. Perhaps the sunniest and least cynical of Baldacci's thrillers, The Winner is an intelligent, exciting and deeply moral read whose switchback plot is full of surprises and touching moments. --Roz Kaveney [via]