November 27

Holding – Graham Norton

holdingThe 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.


My thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for my review copy which I received through Netgalley.


If you have never lived in a small village it is unlikely you will have experienced the sensation of your life being constantly observed, scrutinised and discussed. It sounds quite sinister (and more than a little creepy) but in remote communities your friends and neighbours will see everything you do when you leave your home and they will pass comment on it to their friends and neighbours.  Villages are not packed with an army of super-snoopers, there is just little variation in day-to-day life so EVERYTHING is noted and when neighbours chat they will comment on what (and who) they have seen. Your life becomes someone else’s distraction.

This is why stories set in in villages are always laced with secrets and when someone comes along and starts to unpick those secrets it can cause massive ripples through a small community.  This is why Graham Norton’s Holding was such a fun read – he has placed his tale in a small Irish village and one chance discovery is about to change half a dozen lives forever!

The key player in Holding is probably the local Guard – Sergeant PJ Collins.  He has had a quiet time of it thus far in the village of Duneen, however, a local work crew have uncovered some human bones as they excavated a field.  PJ is called for and quickly realises that he is totally out of his depth, he must call in the more experienced detectives from Cork and that is going to make him look inept in they eyes of his neighbours. I say the key player is “probably” PJ, however, there are a number of other strong characters in Holding who will have valid claim to be the main focus of the story…Brid Riordan is one such character.  Her marriage is on the rocks as she is a bit too keen on a glass of wine before breakfast – the discovery of the body in Duneen will have a dramatic impact on Brid but not in any way that she could have expected.

The discovery of a body is not something that will be kept quiet in Duneen and soon everyone is speculating over who the unfortunate victim may be.  We will learn of lost loves, jealousy, bitterness and friends and family will lie to the police to protect their loved ones.  It makes for fascinating reading, I love when an author starts to unpick the secrets in a village as you are never sure what may be uncovered – Graham Norton does it rather well brings a great deal of empathy to his writing as he sets about destroying the hopes and dreams of his cast.

I picked up Holding with no concept of what to expect, I had not read the description and avoided any reviews I was keen to take the story as I found it. I was very pleasantly surprised over how much I enjoyed it. I tend not to read what is commonly referred to as “cosy” crime and Holding is much lighter in tone than many of the more graphic and action packed books I have read recently. But it is absolutely perfectly pitched for the setting and the characters are all totally believable.

Good fun – Good Read.


Holding is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is available now in Hardback and Digital format.  You can order a copy through this link:


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Posted November 27, 2016 by Gordon in category "From The Bookshelf