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The Bluegrass Conspiracy

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  449 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
When Kentucky Blueblood Drew Thornton parachuted to his death in September 1985 carrying thousands in cash and 150 pounds of cocaine the gruesome end of his startling life blew open a scandal that reached to the most secret circles of the U.S. government. The story of Thornton and The Company he served, and the lone heroic fight of State Policeman Ralph Ross against an int ...more
Paperback, 412 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by (first published 1990)
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Dec 14, 2008 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it really liked it
This book delves into the life of a Kentucky blueblood who apparently had an adventurish streak and evolved from being a Lexington narcotics detective to being found dead on a rural Kentucky farm with a malfunctioning parachute and multiple kilos of cocaine strapped to his body. (I can't remember the exact number but it was well over a hundred pounds if I remember right, and in case you can't figure this out on your own the parachute malfunctioned because it couldn't handle the weight of the cok ...more
Jul 31, 2011 Jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this story because I am from Kentucky. I thought the topic of the book was interesting, and the story line was good. However, this book is hard to read and the majority of it moves slow. There are so many people that are introduced that it's hard to keep up with everyone. At the end of the book, updates were given for certain people. I'll be honest, some of these I don't remember! I felt like I should have been taking notes as I read!

The story itself is very interesting. Showing Kentucky,
Apr 02, 2008 Paula rated it liked it
The Lexington area bluebloods (Old Lexingtonians) were/are struggling to keep their land and horse farms due to the encroachment of development and the offers from developers to buy (yes, we do need several more Walgreens on every corner in Bourbon, Woodford and Jessamine Counties, don't we?) their land. This book details Drew's attempt to hang onto the family farms. I, for one, am more than happy when Sheik Mohammed, his brothers and the Irish horse conglomerates purchase and run the Bluegrass ...more
Ben Watson
May 06, 2013 Ben Watson rated it liked it
Great story in need of even greater editing. Don't misunderstand me, I finished the book. But it could be trimmed by 1/3 and still be a stellar true crime book; but at least it helped provide a plot thread for Justified Season 4 with the Andrew Thompson (actually Andrew Thornton from BGC) character.
dean fisher
Apr 30, 2010 dean fisher is currently reading it
So far I feel like it's a bit poorly written, making it a slow read for me. I'm interested in the subject and the story, but I'm just not drawn to it like I want to be!
Esther L
Oct 17, 2016 Esther L rated it really liked it
too long.
Jun 15, 2016 Adria rated it really liked it
Very interesting account of a large drug and weapons trafficking ring in the 70s and 80s, originating in Lexington KY. I think there are a lot of things the author can't say outright, and so the book reads as disorganized or scattered at certain parts. There is no real resolution per se, and the reader has to draw their own conclusions using hints laid out in earlier chapters. I know where I netted out on who was in charge of The Company, and let's just say that it was all much bigger than Drew ...more
Anne Stevens
Jan 21, 2008 Anne Stevens rated it really liked it
Opening with the true account of Kentuckian Drew Thornton parachuting to his death--wearing a bulletproof vest, night-vision goggles, and $75 million worth of cocaine strapped to his waist--how could this book not be a winner?

Detailing the drug scandal that swept the Bluegrass and involved everyone from the police to "the most secret circles of the U.S. government", Sally Denton spares no names as she depicts this entangled web of drugs, power, and murder; names well-known in Kentucky's high soc
Aug 28, 2015 Kelly rated it really liked it
4 Stars.

This book would be 5 stars, but it needs editing. I'm pretty sure that this book was scanned with a photo-to-text kind of deal when it was reprinted, and that accounts for the vast majority of the errors, but it would have been nice if someone had at least skimmed through it, since it sells for $25 Paperback. That aside, holy shit. I live in Lexington, so this was particularly eye opening for me to read. This should be required reading in the state of Kentucky. The amount of people, esp
May 28, 2015 Ez rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for any Kentuckian. The research that Sally Denton put in to write this masterpiece proves this lady was a work horse on this project. i cannot believe this book was has not been turned into a motion picture. A book about major players in the coke game born and raised in the Bluegrass state hooked in with Senior Escobars cartel. Customs agents get on the air plain that's coming back on a run from Columbia and the lead character in the book decides to jump out with his pa ...more
Tanya Faberson
Aug 30, 2013 Tanya Faberson rated it it was ok
I had to quit this book a little over halfway through. Just awfully written, and after so many reprints, I don't know how there can be that many typos left throughout. It was really distracting. Also, a book like this with so many players involved in the story really needs to have some photographs included. Half the time, I was trying to find pictures of these people on-line. It just became really old. The writing is disjointed, the story all over the place, and it was a real disappointment. I'm ...more
Angela Henning
May 15, 2016 Angela Henning rated it really liked it
Just reread after 20 years. Writing is simplistic but moves the story well. Being from Kentucky and living in Lexington for almost 20 years now, it is a great read. Makes you wonder about all the little airports in the small towns in western kentucky. I do know many of the names of people in the book. My understanding that the book is loos let factual told from the perspective of Ross. Knowing what we know about the CIA in the 80s and arms sales very well Drew very well could have been correct.
Louise Annetta
Jun 23, 2014 Louise Annetta rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
There was a LOT of information and it was sometimes hard to keep the people straight. It got easier as i went further into the book.
It could have been helped by a good editor, and by putting much of the information in footnotes. Footnoting details is a way to keep the plot moving in non-fiction.
I would most likely not have finished, but i was reading it for book group and wanted an informed opinion.
Aug 02, 2009 Patty rated it liked it
WOW!!!!!! What a mess!!! Really an eye-opener that such a small city police dept could be so corrupt and be corrupt for so long. Also interesting is the fact this corruption went all the way to the governor's office. What a shame and disgrace that Ross's career was ruined when he was trying to do the right thing and get to the bottom of this tangled web of crime, deceit, and corrpution.
Jan 16, 2012 Samantha rated it really liked it

While it can get a bit tedious to remember all the names being thrown at you, the information is quite interesting. However, be prepared because there are some info dumps. All in all though, I found it fascinating to read about all these things that happened around the area I was currently living. I also had no idea so much illicit activity was happening in my home state!
Interesting plot based on a local crime, but terribly written and edited. I'm counting this as "read" since I read it about 5 years ago. I truly tried to read it again for the sake of book club, but the writing was too maddeningly awful. If you're curious, you're better off just reading about Andrew Thornton on Wikipedia.
Jul 11, 2010 John rated it liked it
I liked this book. It had some editorial weaknesses and ended on a note that left me hanging. It's amazing how drugs and weapons have only permeated the world more and more since then. Money, corruption and power rule the world.

I wonder why Ralph Ross was not interviewed on Dominick Dunne's show about the book, Freefall, and why a conspirator, John Bizzack was.
Dennis Blewitt
Oct 26, 2009 Dennis Blewitt rated it it was amazing
Sally Denton's well researched and insightful investigation of the corruption of the Drug Enforcement cabal is highly accurate from my own experience and is a must read for any student of social structure. It shows why J.Edgar Hoover would not allow FBI agents get involved with drug enforcement while he headed the FBI. Sally draws out the interstate complexity of the police drug selling.
Mar 17, 2009 Julie rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, mystery
I read this for a book club. I did not care for it. It is a true story; and it is very depressing to learn about all of the corruption that existed (s?) in the state of Kentucky. There are so many people and so much detail in the book - it is almost overwhelming and could have been better organized. I'm glad someone dug in and told the story - but it is hard to slog through.
May 31, 2016 Aimee rated it it was amazing
This was are very fascinating read and well written, maybe I enjoyed it so much because it is about my hometown and I know some of the characters in the book. My Dad says he has even thrown back a few beers with some of the really nefarious characters. Anywho...I would definitely recommend this book!
May 27, 2009 Amber rated it liked it
I thought I should read this since it involves crime in Lexington, and I have to say, it was engrossing to read about all the crazy murders, drug smuggling and police cover-ups going on in the laste 1970s and into the 80s. Anyone living in Lexington or people whp enjoy "true crime" would probably enjoy this book.
Jun 01, 2014 Kelly rated it really liked it
Interesting story that would have done well with a different editor. Growing up in Lexington, it was surreal to read about the corruption going on right down the road. If you can get through the order the information is given and concentrate on the story being told, you will enjoy yourself.
Dec 29, 2011 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Loved the book. It read like a newspaper article which made it a long read but the story was very interesting. I have met people that are mentioned in this book. I had no idea they had once been a part of a cover up this big.
Kathy Warren
This book was poorly written way too many typos. Very confusing as seemed she jumped around so much with all the storylines. But glad I read it to learn more about all those including our Kentucky Governor's office involvement in the 'Blue Grass Conspiracy."
Ben Wilson
Aug 21, 2007 Ben Wilson added it
Recommended to Ben by: Mom, Holly
Shelves: neverfinished
Picked up and put down a few times - sub-par writing on a fascinating topic close to my Bluegrass Roots. My mother claims to have met some of the particulars back in the 80s. Small town, high crime - what's not to love? Oh yeah, the dreadful writing.

One day I will read you.
Maryellen Walter
Sep 24, 2013 Maryellen Walter rated it liked it
This book started out as very interesting and fast paced but then the story dragged. Also keeping track of all the different characters was a chore. Great story of perseverance on the part of one man but something was just missing.
May 28, 2013 Marcia rated it really liked it
Awesome book. I can relate for I am from Ky and I know where a lot of these places are that the author talks about. I remember all this going down when I was younger. Have read this book several times.
Jul 27, 2008 Walt rated it it was ok
Shelves: organized-crime
I hesitate to call this a study in organized crime. It is the biography of an adventurous drug smuggler; not the story of a "preppy Mafia." The author tried to present a large criminal conspiracy; but the connections between characters was weak and debatable.
Aug 07, 2010 Lee rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, crime
A wonderful story. Sometimes the writing is not great, with run-on sentences and grammatical errors; however, the story is compelling enough to bypass the small mishaps. At times a little confusing because numerous characters are introduced in short periods of time. Overall a pretty good book,
Holly Bond
Oct 09, 2007 Holly Bond rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: conspiracy theorists
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book years ago for a book club, and one of the member's dad was one of the police officers involved in this. So, he came the night that we discussed it. It was really interesting. I have lived in KY most of my life and had never heard of this. Interesting stuff.
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“Lexington, Kentucky looks like paradise. Acres of grass as green and tender as a golf course putting green surround hilltop mansions. New Circle Road--a beltway enveloping the city's heartland like a moat--attempts to separate the wealthy landowners from the encroaching strip centers and fast-food joins that are symbolic of the rest of the state .... Combining the traditional feelings of Southerners with the uniquely gorgeous landscape of the bluegrass, Lexingtonians consider themselves and their region the cream of the crop--not only of Kentucky, but also of the nation.” 6 likes
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