Cooler Outside

A Novel
By Phillip James Underwood
10 Digit ISBN:
13 Digit ISBN: 978-1-62652-700-3
LCCN: 2014902373
Price: $15.99
Trim: 5x8
Format (pb/hc): Paperback
Pages: 292
For additional information about this book, visit the website

For Consumers For Retailers/Libraries/Wholesalers
    Itasca Books
    Phone: 1-800-901-3480
Also available from national wholesalers, including:
  • Ingram
  • Baker & Taylor
  • Partners Book Distributing


Cooler Outside—a powerful look at life both inside prison and outside, in the prisons we create for ourselves—is, above all, a story of enduring friendship, forgiveness, and hope.

For James Coolidge—known to his friends as “Cooler”—life was about to change in a big way. After spending over three and a half decades on the inside of a maximum-security prison, he was preparing to take the next step in his journey . . . on the outside. But James Coolidge wasn’t an inmate, although he’d befriended many in his time at San Quentin; Cooler was a prison guard, one of the most well-respected and well-liked guards—an opinion shared by coworkers and inmates alike—in the history of his years of service to the state of California.

Though he is ready for retirement, Cooler is even more ready to begin a new life—or maybe recapture an old one. He moves to Los Angeles in the hope of reconnecting with his three daughters, now grown women he hasn’t seen since his divorce from their mother thirty years ago. His daughters’ acceptance of their long-absent father is understandably tentative, but Cooler soon learns there’s a larger problem—his youngest is intimately involved with a local thug, a drug dealer and pimp who goes by the name of Gleam. Cooler’s professional contacts at San Quentin and his connections to former inmates who remember him as a stand-up guy serve him well when Cooler decides to “convince” Gleam to leave town and get out of his daughter’s life.

Phillip James Underwood’s Cooler Outside is a gritty, genuine, and powerful look at life both inside prison and outside, in the prisons we create for ourselves. It’s also a family saga full of love, hope, and laughter, and the story of enduring friendship and forgiveness. There is much to absorb in Cooler Outside, and Underwood adroitly presents the twists and turns along Cooler’s new path, creating a tale that is satisfying, entertaining, and wholly enjoyable.


Cooler Outside is about a retiring prison guard, divorced from his family over 30 years ago because of domestic violence. Returning to LA to reconnect with his 3 daughters he settles into an apt owned by the brother & wife of his former landlord in Richmond, Ca. He meets the owner of a soul food cafe where he gets good food & local info. Meeting his ex-wife and now grown daughters reveals that his youngest is dating & living with a local drug dealer & pimp named Gleam. Conflict immediately arises between Cooler & Gleam resulting in a physical confrontation. Cooler's former professional ties allow him to assemble peace officers & gangsters to affect an "intervention" to convince Gleam to leave town. The story has many twists & surprises along the way.


Phillip James Underwood was born, raised, and educated in Los Angeles. During the Vietnam War he served in the US Navy as part of the Submarine Service aboard a nuclear submarine, 1968-1973. Phillip is a retired LAFD Captain, serving the citizen's for 30 years. Being a Critical Incident Stress Management Counselor for nearly 20 years, he was a first responder to New York City in September of 2001.

Phillip is married with two children, two stepchildren, and seven grandchildren. He and his wife live near Los Angeles.