Thursday, 15 September 2016

Holding by Graham Norton

Reviewer: Barbara Scott Emmett, author of Delirium: The Rimbaud Delusion, The Land Beyond Goodbye, and The Man with the Horn.

What We Thought: Yes, it’s by that Graham Norton. This is his first novel and I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here goes: It’s not bad. It’s actually not at all bad. A minor grammatical blip in the first paragraph almost put me off but then I realised I was being a bit up myself and carried on.

Set in the small Irish town of Duneen, Holding delves into the murky pasts of the various residents. There’s the rather odd Evelyn Ross and her sisters, spinsters all, and there’s Brid Riordan, unhappily married and hitting the bottle. There’s Mrs Meany, the housekeeper, and there’s the overweight Sgt PJ Collins who Mrs Meany ‘does’ for. There is also the sleepy background of Duneen itself and its shopkeepers, publicans and incidental others.

The discovery of bones buried on a building site shakes the town awake and gives PJ Collins his first real crime to solve. Apparently Tommy Burke, the former owner of the farm on which the body is found, mysteriously disappeared some twenty years or so ago. Rumours begin to fly that he never left. PJ soon discovers that Tommy was involved with both Brid Riordan and Evelyn Ross. Into the mix comes Cork Detective Linus Dunne, at first PJ’s adversary but ultimately a respected colleague.

The characters are beautifully drawn, very real and fully human. The plot is intriguing and has a surprising twist. The writing shines with humour, sadness, and most of all compassion. I was touched by this story, cynic that I am, and the large, sweaty PJ is policeman I would love to meet again. I can see a series arising out of this and if done sensitively, it would make delightful television.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Hamish Macbeth.

Avoid if you dislike: Cosyish crime.

Ideal accompaniments: A full Irish breakfast and vast quantities of tea.

Genre: General/Crime Fiction.

Available on Amazon

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