Thursday 25 October 2018



A career thief named Jack Apple is offered a low-risk, six-figure payout to heist a medical marijuana dispensary from the feisty and impetuous Diane Thomas after Diane steals the robbery plans from her shady ex-husband Alvin, hoping to beat him to the score. 

Diane promises to stay out of Jack’s way but can’t help interfering, forcing them to take hostages inside the dispensary when the robbery is interrupted by law enforcement, inciting a media circus that deteriorates into a full-on urban riot.

Everyone sees a chance to benefit from the crime. Street vendors and local businesses. The Sheriff running a tight re-election campaign and hoping to boost his chances with the voters. A political activist looking to raise his public profile and private agenda. The news media that speculates and manipulates the story. Hostages who see a chance to settle old scores and create new opportunities for themselves. 

To escape, Jack and Diane must negotiate the hostages, their agendas, law enforcement, the news media, shady deals, corrupt politicians, rioters, opportunists, Diane’s shady ex-husband Alvin, the business partners they didn’t know were involved, and their growing attraction to each other.

Burn One Down is an enjoyable heist novel where things don't particularly go to plan. Jack Apple's a thief though he has ambitions for settling down into an honest life, running his own business. Start up capital is required and one decent job, taking down a cash-rich medical marijuana shop could offer him his way out. Always assuming Diane, the sexy lady who introduced him to the job, stays out of his way and allows him the latitude to run things. That's something that isn't going to happen. Sharp shooter Diane has her own agenda and way of doing things.

A fledgling partnership, some sex, a plan, a robbery and a payback operation aimed at her ex-husband, the job and a descent into a hostage situation, a thespian security guard, a cranky old couple, an annoyed ex-girlfriend, an under pressure up for re-election Sheriff, a more capable officer with one eye on the job and one on his boss, the annoyed ex-husband and businessman, some shady Mexican partners, a community activist complete with megaphone and bodyguard, a rent-a-mob riot with some opportunist looting and a gaggle of assorted on-the-spot-this-is-live media reporters with flashy smiles and rolling cameras. Author Cooper manages to throw in a few more things besides.

Decent story - a robbery where the wheels come off with the ensuing the fall-out and aftermath. You never quite know how things are going to evolve. Not particularly tense, there's never a sense of real danger for our odd couple of Jack and Diane, as the author executes a lighter touch, playing things for a few laughs. There are several wry chuckles to be had and a couple of laugh out loud moments. Our security guard Reggie, hamming up his Shakespeare for the crowd and the cameras while still being held hostage and the priceless reaction of the press is worth the price of admission on its own. Similarly our Sheriff caught on camera in an unguarded moment is fairly eventful.

Interesting characters, a bit of action, some enjoyable banter and dialogue with our two thieves endeavouring to manage a feisty bunch of hostages, while still working out a few issues in their own developing relationship. Best book ever? No but a solid entertaining read.

Burn One Down is hopefully the first in a series with career criminal, Jack Apple. The ending of the book certainly leaves scope for further adventures without feeling like there's unresolved issues to tie up.

4 from 5

Burn One Down is Jeffrey A. Cooper's second novel. The interestingly title How to Steal a Truck Full of Nickels - his debut - sits on the pile.

Read in October, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 276
Source - Net Galley read, (the author kindly sent a back-up copy as well)
Format - kindle


  1. It does sound like an engaging story, Col. And the characters sound solidly developed, and with well-written interactions. To me, that makes all the difference in a story.

    1. Margot I did enjoy this one. I think the main characters are interesting and have the legs for a few more outings.

  2. Col, this one is an interesting caper novel with an intriguing storyline and a most unusual setting for the heist.

    1. Prashant, I was taken by the premise particularly the setting. Cannabis and cannabis related products have been in the news a lot lately in the UK with a potential relaxation on the use of oils etc in products that assist in pain relief for debilitating illnesses. The UK is a fair few years behind other countries in its approach.

      Plus I do like my robberies and rip-offs and take downs and drug related stories

  3. Not an author I'm familiar with, but this sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Thanks for the tipoff.

    1. John, I hope it floats your boat if you get to it sir

  4. Col – Cooper and his books are new to me, and I do like heist stories. Legalized pot is big news here, too. Some states go for it. Others don't. And the fed has its own laws. But TV loves showing people lining up or lighting up a doobie.

    1. Elgin, I find it quite puzzling that the laws vary so much from state to state and then federally as well. It's almost a dis-united states of America. Canada was in the news a week or so ago, but it's hard to have a sensible debate over here. All the Daily Mail readers, Mr & Mrs Outraged from Tunbridge Wells don't want to hear the other side of the argument.