Old Dogs was officially published yesterday. I’ve had an advance copy, won in a competition, for a little while and pushed it to the top of the TBR pile to coincide with its release. Having thoroughly enjoyed Go to Helena Handbasket, Donna Moore’s last novel, I was looking forward to another comic crime caper. And that’s what’s delivered – a comic heist story that, to me, was rooted in the best traditions of British, 1980s alternative comedy (which is shorthand for quite a few bums, tits, poo, etc jokes and anarchic scenes) (see my post here).
I was going to write a synopsis, but for once the blurb on the back of the book does a good job: ‘La Contessa Letitzia di Ponzo and her sister Signora Teodora Grisiola are not who they might seem. Now in their seventies, they’re actually Letty and Dora, a pair of ex-hookers turned con-artists who’ve decided to steal a pair of gold, jewel-encrusted Tibetan shih tzu dog statuettes from a Glasgow museum. Unfortunately, it seems everyone wants to get their hands on the expensive pooches. There’s the dodgy chauffeur, a pair of delinquents who work in a crematorium, an out-of-work insomniac bent on revenge, and an innocent young islander who’s obsessed with returning the dogs to Tibet. And yet the elderly con-artists might just manage to execute their plan and live the rest of their lives in the lap of luxury. That’s if they can avoid the Australian hitman with his sights on a very different future for them. . .’
I enjoyed Old Dogs and laughed out loud several times. There’s a nice blend of characters, some very well judged observations and scenes, a good intertwining of subplots, a cantering pace, and a comic moment on every page. That said, the story is a little uneven in places and, I’m not sure whether this was due to having an uncorrected proof, there seemed to be a couple of continuity lapses. These though are minor issues as overall it’s an entertaining read and provided a welcome Scottish diversion from the misery that is the Irish recession. As well as writing novels, Donna Moore also runs the blog, Big Beat from Badsville, where she posts about Scottish crime fiction and some of the craziness in her life. Well worth subscribing to.