Dark Side of the Moon by Les Wood

les_wood-270When a publisher I know sent me a copy of a couple of his company’s recently published books to review, I was very pleased. The first novel that I read was the debut novel by Les Wood, Dark Side of the Moon. Les is a Scot who lives in Barrhead and previously won the Canongate Prize for New Writing and the McCash Prize for Poetry, so it is no surprise that Dark Side of the Moon has merit. It is a comedic crime story set in Glasgow, Scotland, in which the reader cannot help but root for the criminals. The police never come into it!

The criminals are introduced individually, one chapter at a time. This makes it very clear where they fit into the group, but it does make the setting of the story somewhat drawn out. There is also a specific, detailed story about a baby that is most unsatisafactory in its lack of detail or focus. However, this does foreshadow part of the conclusion of the novel.

The leader of the group, Boddice, is said to be losing ground among the local crimelords as foreignors move in. The reader is told about this but, the alternative forces of evil do not affect the progress of the crime. However, apparently, in order to re-establish his kudos in criminal society, Boddice puts together his hapless band of baddies to help him steal the most valuable diamond in the world, known as the Dark Side of the Moon. dark_side_of_the_moon_cover-270

The plan seems plausible and the group each has their part to play, except for Leggett who has been dispatched for trying to out-wit Boddice. Of course, no plan runs true and this one is no exception. There are more twists than in a challah and as the group reach for success, the significance of the lucky talisman Boag acquired becomes clear.

The idea of this novel is good. The story is amusing and the Glaswegian criminals convincingly portrayed. Unfortunately, there are a few loose ends in the story and the middle of the tale loses its focus a bit. Nevertheless, it is worth reading and is a worthy debut novel.

Valerie Penny

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