The Winner

The Winner

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Gabi's Review  - Novel to be published in October 2024

The psychological and moral focus of Teddy Wayne’s noir thriller The Winner is Conor O'Toole. A handsome, hardworking law graduate, Conor lands a summer job as a tennis coach for the residents of Cutter’s Neck, an elite gated community an hour’s drive from Cape Cod in the USA. Born in the disadvantaged suburb of Yonkers, with a father who committed suicide, Conor is further burdened by a substantial amount of law school debt, as well as struggling to pay his mother’s medical bills. The job in Cutter's Neck could be the break he needs to launch his career.

The Winner is fundamentally concerned with the themes of class struggle versus privilege, tennis and strategic thinking, and the corrupting influence of money. It reveals how power and privilege corrode an innocent young man’s values. In a twisted take on Mike Nichol’s film The Graduate, Conor is seduced by the mother of the girl he falls in love with and begins a descent into moral compromise and increasing desperation. But throughout all this, Wayne sustains our sympathies for his grievously disadvantaged protagonist. 

Lovers of literary crime thrillers, as well as tennis, will enjoy this highly entertaining account of sex, money and power, reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith at her darkly explosive best. 

Publishers Reviews

Conor is a recent graduate from a law school no one has heard of. Without any job prospects and needing to support his chronically ill mother, he takes a summer job teaching tennis at the affluent gated community of Cutters Neck, Massachusetts. One of his first students is Catherine, a magnetic divorcée keen to hire him for more than advice on her serve. What begins as a transactional arrangement soon develops into an intoxicating sexual relationship.

Things become even more complicated when Conor encounters Emily, with whom he has his first taste of real intimacy. Against his better judgment, he soon finds himself living a double life that inevitably leads to disaster.

Conor knows how hard it is to win against those with money and power. In his fight for survival, he has to put emotion aside and play with only his wits – after all, in tennis, love means nothing.

'A lean, careening thrill … one of my favourite books of the year' Megan Nolan

'Irresistible … A page-turning story of sex, power, and money' Vogue, Best Books of 2024 So Far

A razor-sharp novel that skewers the life of the uber-rich in the vein of The White Lotus, with shades of The Talented Mr Ripley and The Graduate