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Review: Holding by Graham Norton

Title: Holdingholding

Author: Graham Norton

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Published: October 6th, 2016

Pages: 320

Rating: 4/5

My Review:

This is an enthralling mystery set in the Irish village of Duneen where secrets from the past thrive awaiting being uncovered after the discovery of human remains…..

The sleepy village of Duneen is the kind of place people drive through without ever realising they’ve been there, one you can pass through on your way to somewhere else but it is never your destination. The villagers are an eclectic mix but most have been born and grown up there, everyone knows everyone else and if someone sneezes everyone knows about it. Or that’s how it seems to Sergeant PJ Collins, the local officer of the guarda. PJ has been in the village for fifteen very nondescript, but fattening, years but that’s about to change. When human remains are uncovered on an abandoned farm, locals suspect they belong to Tommy Burke, who supposedly left the area decades ago. As PJ starts to help Detective Superintendent Linus Dunne from Cork investigate, he learns that the village has a darker past that he was previously unaware of. It is an investigation that reveals more about the villagers but also helps PJ learn more about himself and his dreams.

Through it all, the sadness, sorrow, loves and dreams are brought to life by the author’s emotive and engaging writing. The characters are complex, have hidden agendas and secrets that make them so human and believable as they are brought to life in the pages of the story. There are dark comic moments, for instance, Brid Riordan is the ex fiancée of the murdered man, she’s married and one day had so much to drink that she accidentally sent the washing up liquid instead of a drink in her child’s packed lunch! The gossips in the corner shop are superbly portrayed, as are the three spinster Ross sisters and as for PJ’s housekeeper, Mrs Meany – well, you just need to read it yourself to find out more!

This is a real page turner, a great story that is superbly written. There are plenty of twists and turns, especially for PJ, who is in deadly danger as he discovers more from the village’s past and, for the first time in his life, possible romance! There are hints in the last few pages that there may be more to come about PJ in future and I really hope this is the start of a new series as I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and have no hesitation in very highly recommending it to anyone looking for a mystery in a brilliant village setting written by someone who may well have kissed the Blarney Stone!

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this novel without any obligations.


The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother-of-two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad, Holding is a masterful debut. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

This book is available from a variety of sources including

Amazon (UK)         Amazon (US)       

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