Book Review: Holding by Graham Norton

If you know me in person, you’ll
know that I love a good laugh. I find certain types of humour uncontrollably
hilarious and I love watching comedians and TV shows with the sole purpose of
making myself have a good old chuckle. When I saw that Graham Norton, the TV comedian
and all-round Irish hero was releasing a work of fiction, I jumped at the
chance to review it and put my request in immediately. When I actually had a
proper look at the book, I realised that it wasn’t comical (or at least, it
wasn’t set out to be) in any way, shape or form. Luckily for me, this piece of
fiction was crime based and as we all know too well, I love a good crime book.

The story is set in the small
Irish town of Duneen, in County Cork. Norton makes it perfectly clear from the
start that nothing much happens in this tiny little place- nothing, that is,
until builders uncover the remains of a body on farmland. Upon further
inspection, it’s revealed that the bones have been there for over two decades.
The townspeople gossip and whisper and come to the conclusion that the bones
must be those of the mysterious Tommy Burke, a former inhabitant of Duneen who
went missing without a trace. The story follows the perspective of a number of
different characters, principally PJ Collins, an Irish Garda Sergeant. It focuses
on the tales told by a number of women who live in the village, all with
stories which are relevant to the surrounding plot. Two of the women
contributing to this are former lovers of Tommy – Brid Riordan, who Tommy
sought out simply for her farmland and Evelyn Ross, the girl completely
besotted by him and his charms. The inspectors from Cork make an appearance,
pushing a disgruntled PJ to the side-lines in his moment of glory.

I absolutely loved this
story. It wasn’t half what I was expecting but surprisingly, that’s what made
is so likeable. I was expecting to be bowled away with the smart wit that we see
from Graham Norton on television. The book was, at times, incredibly funny and
I actually snorted out loud on more than one occasion at particularly crass
comments. However, the tale was also one which was thoughtful and well-written
and really met (and exceeded) all of my expectations. PJ’s character was
loveable and I found myself cheering him on when he rose to the occasion. I
loved the flipping between characters as it really gave a different edge to
what could have been a simplistic tale. There wasn’t much complexity attached
to the story- it wasn’t horrific, or gory, or over exaggerated. It’s simplicity
most definitely added to its allure. It was easy to follow, the characters were
introduced adequately and all of them had their relevance. I wasn’t expecting one
of the twists that came towards the
end of the book, although the other I saw coming a mile off.

I’m hoping and praying that
this is the start of a little series from Norton – there’s always a place in
the market for crime fiction and this one fits perfectly into an already
incredibly rich genre. I’d love to see PJ develop as an inspector and be
entrusted with a more disturbing crime in the future. Thanks to the guys at Hodder and Stoughton for my review copy
of the book!