Winner Take All Mass Market Paperback – Nov 25 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
A damaged and vicious international opera diva absconds to Europe with her baby daughter in this latest legal thriller from Bunn (Drummer in the Dark). North Carolina legal eagle Marcus Glenwood, the hero of Bunn's earlier thriller The Great Divide, is surprised when high-powered CEO Dale Steadman approaches him for help on a case, since Glenwood recently dealt Steadman's company a courtroom thrashing. But the lawyer takes pity on Steadman when he learns that the CEO's ex-wife, gorgeous opera star Erin Brandt, has kidnapped the one-year-old daughter she had virtually abandoned a year earlier in order to pursue her glamorous career. Glenwood finds his initial effort to make his case stymied by a rival lawyer as well as a shield of celebrity that makes it difficult to get Brandt into court. He finally succeeds by sending his fiancee and research assistant Kirsten Stansted off to Europe to locate Brandt and the child. Stansted makes progress, but the situation deteriorates considerably when she is attacked by a mysterious stranger. Brandt soon turns up murdered in New York, and Steadman finds himself arrested after a coincidental trip to Manhattan as the crime is being committed. Bunn's depiction of family and romantic relationships is soaked in melodrama. Brandt is a particularly lurid, cartoonish figure who seems part witchy prima donna and-incongruously-part militant feminist, spouting such gems as "We are sisters, you and I. Molded by the same harsh flame." The courtroom scenes are long on loud arguments but short on tension and suspense, and the plotting is surprisingly sloppy. Bunn's fans can only hope he rebounds the next time around.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
Marcus Glenwood, the attorney who took on the nasty multinational New Horizons in The Great Divide (2000), accepts a case from the company's new CEO, Dale Steadman. It seems that Steadman's ex-wife, a young opera diva named Erin Brandt, has kidnapped their infant daughter, Celeste, and taken her to Germany. The question is why, since Erin is cold to the touch, regarded her husband as a country bumpkin, and never showed any love for Celeste. Germany, as Bunn is at pains to show, resists court attempts to win back even abducted children, because of the chauvinistic notion that anything German is by definition more peaceful and wholesome, particularly if the alternative is the violent U.S. Threading his way through the complications of international law, Marcus dispatches his assistant--and girlfriend--Kirsten to Europe to slap a subpoena on Erin. Erin, always the temptress, confronts Kirsten with her old life in the fast lane, a life not dissimilar to Erin's, and of which Marcus knows nothing. Meanwhile, back in the States, another plotline develops at Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera. Bunn convincingly portrays the world of opera from the Met to Dusseldorf, and though he is not a lawyer, he has a gift for courtroom dialogue. This is a novel about mature romantic love, and how we behave when we cannot find it. It is a thoughtful, moral story, although Bunn's many evangelical readers will find little in it that is overtly Christian. John Mort
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
Top Customer Reviews
one, but, unhappily, the complex aspects of the story line
fail to connect all the time.
The story is, basically, that of a lawyer who is hired to help a
troubled businessman get back his young daughter who was
kidnapped by the non-custodial mother and spirited back to a
Germany that refuses to honor the custodial judgments of other
The mother is a strange, ego-driven opera diva who never seemed
interested in this child, so the mystery deepens as the lawyer,
and his own troubled female assistant, search for the child,
and then who has to also search for the reasons for all the
trouble they encounter along the way.
We, as readers, travel from N. Carolina to New York, to several
regions of Germany, then to London, and we are plunged into
the nether regions of opera and its managers and practitioners,
as well as those areas of medicine affecting several of the
As said, a very complex story that moves ahead with a nice
speed that is only interrupted by some lapses in logic as the
main "good" characters frequently seem to lose all reason to
plunge into extremely dangerous situations with no regard for
their safety. These nice, smart, capable people suddenly race
into obvious physical danger, disregarding all normal caution,
and our own logic is challenged by their abrupt, impetuous
Even "love" is in for some strange bumps along the way, as
these characters engage and disengage with each other as
the story progresses.
An odd mixture of a story, but one that moves along with speed
Regrettably, the book contains the ongoing, irritating flaw of ending each chapter in such a manner that it essentially compels the reader to continue on -- even if it is three o'clock in the morning and the reader truly does have a day job and the reader's spouse keeps mumbling, "Just go to BED!"
To make matters even WORSE, the plot took an explosive, unexpected turn at the absurd hour of 4:00 a.m. This left me literally no choice but to shake my wife vigorously and shout, "You will not BELIEVE what he just did!"
She immediately became airborne and shrieked, "WHO? WHAT?"
"I can't tell you or it will ruin the book," I replied.
The novel completely ruined her sleep. The poor woman had to drag herself into the living room and sleep on the sofa.
Bunn should be ashamed of himself.
In the future, he needs to make his books more dull. My wife will appreciate it.
What really sets this book apart is Bunn's ability to seamlessly combine serious moral, spiritual, and psychological themes with an extremely fast moving and deftly plotted storyline. Others have written similar books--some of David Morrell's later work, Dean Koontz's last three or four books, David Lindsey (sans the spiritual element)--but few have been as successful as Bunn, in my view.
One of the great pleasures of this book is the contrast between the main female characters. Both suffer from major childhood/teen trauma. Both have experienced the highest levels of international fame and acceptance. Both enter adulthood badly wounded and desperately in need of true love and care. One somehow finds the courage to seek it out, while the other remains completely self-consumed. A key scene--indeed, one that the entire book hinges on--occurs when the two meet and one is able to resist the almost overwhelming temptation to fall back into her former life. This scene is simply marvelous and brings front and center Bunn's prodigious talent: fraught with hair-raising peril, depicting a world impossibly glamorous, and perfectly pitched, it is the kind of reader-friendly tour de force that many authors try to pull off, but few have the chops to absolutely nail.
Another thing I really liked about Winner Take All is the grand rogue gallery.Read more ›
The prime players: Erin Brandt, an opera diva, with a determination that overrides even family bonds; Dale Steadman, a CEO under fire, both personally and professionally; Marcus Glenwood, our trusty lawyer friend; and Kirsten Stansted, his fiancee, who struggles with secrets from the past. When Steadman's child is kidnapped by his ex-wife, Erin, Marcus and Kirsten become entangled in a mystery with far-reaching implications.
Bunn struggles to maintain the same level of depth that he accomplished in "The Great Divide." New characters--mostly unlikeable ones--weigh the story down, and certain stretches in plausibility (a mother with not one ounce of concern for her infant child was a hard sell for me) became distractions. As the story progressed, my attentions shifted to Marcus' fiancee, Kirsten Stansted, and I wished the story had been centered from the beginning around her personal struggles.
As in "The Great Divide" and "Drummer in the Dark" (my personal favorite), Bunn has a way of drawing us into worlds unfamiliar and making them interesting. "Winner Take All" actually gave me more interest in the world of opera. Bunn spices his well-crafted narratives with scenes of suspense and true drama, but the two previously mentioned books might be better introductions to his work. In "Winner Take All," he hits the high, and the low, notes. If you're a fan, though, this book is a welcome addition.
Most recent customer reviews
I have enjoyed every one of T. Davis Bunn's books. I've bought his books from the beginning. I continue to enjoy his books, and this one is great as usual. Read morePublished on April 13 2004
Winner Take all is an awesome example of courage and boldness. The beginning for me was a little slow to get me interested but about half to three quarters of the way through it... Read morePublished on Jan. 14 2004 by Brandon07Crain
Marcus Glenwood is back! But as much as I hate to admit it, this does not hold a candle to The Great Divide. I learned about opera a little bit... YUCK! Read morePublished on Dec 2 2003 by Wolfe Moffat
The saddest thing in the world is a mother who neglects her child. That sort of mother shares much in common with the animal kingdom - and female animals who eat their young. Read morePublished on May 12 2003 by FictionAddiction.NET
This book is well- written with very clear details- particularly about location and sensation. I appreciate the use of olfactory sense- usually so overlooked. Read morePublished on May 1 2003 by J. Seymour
This is my first book that I've read. I felt Davis was just too overly descriptive and found this book too boring. Read morePublished on March 27 2003
Overall this book is a good read but compared to many of T. Davis Bunn's other books, this one came up short. Read morePublished on Feb. 23 2003