Boddice, a crime lord looking over his shoulder for good reason, has assembled an unlikely band of misfit crooks. Their job is to steal a famous diamond worth millions, known as The Dark Side of the Moon. Despite the odds, the crew is self-serving squabbles and natural incompetence, the plan progresses. As events build to an explosive climax no one really knows who is playing who. Full of twists and turns and laugh-out-loud moments, this is a hugely enjoyable romp entirely from the criminal’s point-of-view, with not a single cop in sight.
An odd one, this; Dark Side of the Moon by Les Wood is essentially a crime story with not a whisper of the police. Instead what we get is a crime lord falling down the pecking order of Glasgow’s underbelly, desperate to pull off a big job and secure his place at the top of the table. A gang of petty criminals and hard men all under his thumb / at his mercy. The world’s most valuable diamond and a plot to steal it against tough security and odds with no experience and no real clue what the hell is going on.
Gritty, at times uproariously funny and populated by some truly memorable characters Dark Side of the Moon is more than a madcap heist story – for one thing there’s an undercurrent of sadness throughout. It’s a grim, blighted reality that these characters live in and it’s pulling them all down. Strangely, though, this meant I ended up having genuine sympathy for some of them despite the fact that these are some pretty nasty people. It’s a mark of real talent that Les Wood manages to draw out compassion for someone as brutal and hardened as Prentice – even after Kyle’s dog story.
Like the hard-men it portrays, this book gets its punches in early and doesn’t relent. Maybe it’s the continual influx of bad news that this year has heralded but I’m finding myself increasingly immune to shock, yet there are parts of Dark Side of the Moon that caused me to swear and put the book down for a moment or three (though never for long as I was hooked) so powerful are parts of it. I’ve not been able to look at a can of emulsion paint the same way since.
But don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a bleak book that’s hard to read. Noooo… far from it. I love a book that challenges and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dark Side of the Moon. Les Wood finds the perfect balance between vividly portraying the dark underworld, humour and thrill with pacing that keeps the book surging along, building up to a terrifyingly gripping and bloody crescendo of a climatic scene that both quashed expectations and left my mouth agape.
Deliciously dark and hugely entertaining, The Dark Side of the Moon is a great novel and I’m very surprised that this is Les Wood’s first. Very grateful to Freight Books for sending this one my way and wholeheartedly recommended.