There is something about the Irish that lends itself to storytelling. “Holding” is the debut novel from Graham Norton and hopefully the first of many. For someone writing their first work of fiction this is a really accomplished book. Pacy and character driven but the story tells itself in a realistic and human way.
The remote Irish village of Dineen ticks along nicely and life is relatively quiet for local Garda Sergeant PJ Collins. All he has to do is issue licences and check tax discs. PJ is a big guy and only getting bigger with his housekeeper cooking him three meals a day!
When a body is discovered at the building site on the old Burke farm it causes a sensation amongst the locals. It couldn’t be Tommy Burke could it? He’d disappeared years ago leaving Brid Riordan a disappointed fiancée and Evelyn Ross feeling as though her heart had shattered. There were rumours that he’d got on a bus and left them both but the truth will out.
This is a darkly comic story as PJ has to cope with the detectives from Cork coming in to oversee the investigation but realises that he does actually have some policing skills after all. The characters come to life on the page and you feel like you know them all. The near alcoholic Brid and the trio of Ross spinster sisters are all fantastic but the star for me is housekeeper Mrs Meany. In my head she looks like Father Ted’s housekeeper! Her story is heart-breaking and makes the book.
There are a few clues at the end that this might be the first in a series. An Irish detective series starring the irrepressible PJ would be a real treat.
Supplied by Net Galley and Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review.
UK publication date: Oct 6th 2016. 320 pages.