Quick review for a quick read. So. Many. Tense. Misunderstandings. Even manipulations? Either way you look at it, "The Winner's Crime" was intriguingly done in places with the back and forth tension. As engaging as it was in places, however, it felt like the book sagged in places more than it should've. Yet when the emotional quality of the work hit, it hit hard and quickly. Kestrel and Arin both have to live with the decisions they made in the previous book as well as the ones they make in this story, which set them directly in opposition with each other. Sometimes I wanted to throttle the both of them. There are a lot of political manipulations, caustic (from frankly immature and blind decision making) repercussions and intentional hiding of details in the mix of the danger and betrayal that happens in this book.
Kestrel reminds me of the equivalent of Marie Antoinette's character from "Rose of Versalles". She really doesn't think things through at all and is grossly immature and naive. Then again, so is Arin. I don't really care for either of the characters personally for their recklessness (which more often than not cost human lives and broken relationships.) Yet...somehow I found myself invested in the larger story to see what happens. Rutkoski does a great job with establishing character motivations and emotion and that's what keeps me reading this rather epic series. I'm definitely intrigued to see where this tale goes in the third book of "The Winner's Trilogy". But for me, the book was a winner, albeit with caveats.
Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.