2 October 2021

Review: HOLDING, Graham Norton

  • this edition published in Great Britain, 2016, Hodder & Stoughton
  • ISBN 978-1-444-79203-4
  • 312 pages


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. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of lovable characters, and explore - with searing honesty - the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

My Take

When PJ Collins had joined the police he had hoped to become a detective.  Instead, for his whole life he has been stuck in the village of Duneen, handling nothing more than the pettiness of everyday life., looked after by his housekeeper Mrs Meany, who feeds him well three times a day.

The discovery of human remains on a building site is certainly something out of the ordinary, and means that "the suits from Cork" will come to have a look, and inevitably take over. Twenty years earlier, a young man, Tommy Burke, had vanished, thought to have left the town on a bus, and never heard of again. 

Rumours start up that the pile of bones could be a mass grave, but eventually it is settled that it is just one person. The Superintendent arrived from Cork to supervise the investigation and PJ's local knowledge comes in useful.

Eventually, months later, a second bundle of bones is found, and then the truth comes out.

A deceptively gentle read, but eventually the secrets that the village has been hiding are revealed. People's lives are changed forever. The characters are beautifully and empathetically drawn.

My rating: 4.5 

About the author
Graham William Walker is an Irish actor, comedian, television presenter and columnist, known by his stage name Graham Norton. He is the host of the comedy chat show The Graham Norton Show and the BBC commentator of the Eurovision Song Contest.

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