Dark Side of the Moon, by Les Wood, tells the story of an attempted diamond heist by a group of incompetent crooks. They are well used to meting out violence and thereby fear amongst the druggies and downtrodden in Glasgow’s housing schemes. The professional hard men are, however, ill equipped to carry out the half baked instructions dreamed up by their leader, Boddice, which he believes will enable them to lift a huge diamond from its well guarded display. Boddice’s territories are in decline and he considers this audacious robbery his swansong. He promises riches to those who take part, and serious damage to any who will not do exactly as he says.
Prentice and Kyle are feared by those who must pay protection money to their boss. Although more used to punishing painfully they are not averse to killing on Boddice’s command. Prentice is getting tired of this way of life and is shaken when his actions affect an infant. He wants out but needs Boddice to allow him to walk away.
Boag is offered only occasional work by the racketeer. He is given any at all due to his dad’s willingness to serve time for the boss. Since his dad has been inside Boag has fallen on hard times and is living rough. He is pleased to be offered a chance to use his particular skills, to show the others capabilities they do not credit him with.
The Wilson Twins, Campbell and John, run an established and successful Tattoo Parlour. The money they earn is now a sideline since their business became a front for laundering Boddice’s ill gotten gains. They too have their strengths, but John’s do not appear to reach as far as his brain.
The self-satisfied and sadistic Leggett is barely tolerated by any in the group. When he starts cutting the drugs he is tasked with delivering, pocketing the profit thereby made for himself, Boddice takes action. As with many of his decisions, repercussions are not fully thought through.
Boddice’s idea of stealing the massive diamond comes to him when he hears it is to be the centrepiece of a jewellery event in the city. Each of his chosen crew members has a vital role to play in his cunning plan but he does not properly explain to them all that they may have to face. The team are not used to working as a team. Those who normally lead have been given lesser roles and simmer when they feel sidelined.
The motley bunch are not likeable but their characters are presented with a degree of sympathy that keeps the reader engaged. Their lack of guile adds to the humour even when what they are doing is so obviously grim. It is not just the downtrodden and intellectually challenged who are given wry treatment but also the wealthy and supposedly successful city greats. Their contempt for each other is both amusing and pitiable.
This is a light-hearted romp through the criminal underworld where the rule of law is largely ignored. There is no honour amongst these thieves. It says much for the quality of the writing that there was a degree of poignancy to where events ultimately lead.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Freight Books.