THE DOWNSIDE By Mike Cooper Reviewed


Mysterious Press
September 5, 2017

 

In the 21st century, we are used to thinking of theft as mainly a cybercrimes issue. Credit card numbers, social security numbers… these are the kinds of data most at risk today. But there is still a place for the old school thief. The thief that takes physical THINGS, not just data. And sometimes, those things are really big. And really, really heavy.

Finn is that thief. A career criminal who just got out of prison after spending seven years locked away after a failed train robbery in New Mexico, Finn wants nothing more than to stay on the lawful side of the bars and find  out who sold out his crew in the New Mexico debacle. Feeling like a man out of time, dead broke, and with no prospects to speak of, he’s easy pickings for Emily, the beautiful assistant of his former financier Wes. Loaded with cash but bankrupt in morals, Wes is an immensely rich Wall Street player who’s only mission in life is to get richer. Emily’s pitch from Wes is simple: tunnel into an underground vault, steal a huge load of precious metal… and don’t get caught. The vault is located under a high security railyard, surrounded by protesters and riot police who are armed to the teeth.

OK.

Like the best Oceans 11 films, Mike Cooper keeps the reader involved in the unfolding planning and plotting of the heist. As Finn gets the gang back together, you can see him slide into the role of Danny Ocean, with Jake playing the part of Rusty Ryan. And that is really the key to THE DOWNSIDE: this is a really fun book. I could absolutely see Steven Soderbergh directing the film adaptation of this book, complete with a David Holmes soundtrack. Cooper is masterful at laying the groundwork for the upcoming heist, explaining the facts of the stock market manipulation, and setting out the clues for who set up Finn years ago, and who will inevitably do it again. Finn’s crew is also a fascinating bunch, with credit given to the author for avoiding standard tropes and clichés.

THE DOWNSIDE gives the reader a fast-moving caper, satisfying read that feels like a throwback to a different time. It is a refreshing change from many of the navel-gazing, psychological thrillers that have been crowding the shelves the last few years. Just because your book stars a thief, it doesn’t mean you can’s root for him. And it sure doesn’t mean that crime can’t be fun.

 

Dan Malmon