Holding by Graham Norton

“…her small hand pushing open the heavy wooden door with its flaking paint, the shadow on the floor moving slowly from side to side, the work boots with dirty soles and one lace untied, the hands that had patted her on the head that very morning, now hanging limply. The creaking of the rope. That was where her memories ended. She could never see his face.”

Life in the Irish village of Duneen is very quiet until a body is discovered. I wasn’t sure what I expected, but liked the idea of reading about Irish village life, so decided to give this novel a go.

The story centres mainly around PJ Collins the sargeant who works in the village. He is overweight and just longing to make prove that he is good at something. So when a body is discovered at the new housing estate being built in the village, he thinks this could possibly be his opportunity. Brid O’Riorden and Evelyn Ross are shaken up badly when it is said that the body could possibly be that of Tommy Burke, who they both loved when they were younger. Before he left the village for good.

But then everything changes. It isn’t Tommy and the body remains unidentified. Public interest wanes and life continues in the village. PJ continues to struggle with his work and his weight, Evelyn continues to struggle with her acceptance of how life has turned out and Brid continues to try and find a way to resolve her drinking problems and sort out her marriage and family circumstances. Until further information twist events in the villagers lives again and more drama unfolds.

It was an interesting novel, with lots of depth and intrigue, some sadness and grief, and a bit of mystery, which you would expect from a crime novel.
If you like to read mystery crime thrillers, then I am sure that you will like this.

I particularly liked the bit when a sickly Abigail responded to a question, she “stuck her arm up in the air and waved her fingers from side to side as if an invisible sock puppet was saying ‘no’.” It nearly made me laugh out loud, particularly as I have been caught doing exactly that!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
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.

A Note From the Publisher
HOLDING is not the novel I planned to write, at least, not at first. But following the old adage to write about what you know, Ireland seemed a good place to start, especially rural Ireland. I did have in mind a cast of characters living in and around a small village where their lives would reflect the priorities and concerns – land, marriage, religion – that are so present in that area still.

I found as I wrote more about the characters of Duneen that each of them had in some way become suspended in time – due to grief, due to unhappiness, due to fear of failure – and that they were all holding on to their own secrets.

I am hugely excited that HOLDING is now heading out into the world, and would love to hear what you think. Please do let me know on Twitter @Grahnort using the hashtag #readholding. I will be watching!

Best

Graham

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