Holding by Graham Norton

Opening sentence: “It was widely accepted by the residents of Duneen that, should a crime be committed and Sergeant Collins manage to apprehend the culprit, it would be very unlikely that the arrest had involved a pursuit on foot.” 

Now, as I discussed in my post about audiobooks, for me, their success all hinges on the narrator. So when I saw that Graham Norton was narrating his debut novel, Holding, the thought of being read to in his familiar, dulcet tones was very appealing. I have previously read one of Graham’s two autobiographies, The Life and Loves of a He Devil: A Memoir, and found it great. He perfectly captured his chatty, relatable tone-of-voice on the page, but as his first work of fiction, I was intrigued to see what Holding would be like.

I have to say, it was a very cosy experience. I really enjoyed popping in my earphones and being whisked away to the small Irish village of Duneen, where Graham did a wonderful array of voices to represent the various characters. As, aside from being a superb chat-show host, Graham does have some acting experience, if you haven’t yet seen his portrayal as Father Noel Furlong in Father Ted, then please, click here and enjoy.

But back to the book. This is a murder mystery set in a small village, loveable lead character Sergeant PJ Collins is given a break from his mundane usual job of issuing tax discs and directing traffic when builders unearth a body buried in local farmland and he must engage all his detective skills to find out who that body was.

Through the course of his investigations, we meet and are drawn into the lives of: the three unmarried Ross sisters, Brid Rearden – an unhappily married woman who depends too much on a glass of white wine to get through her days, Mrs Meany – Sergeant Collins’ housekeeper and Detective Superintendent Linus Dunne, brought in to lead the case and add a source of tension to PJ’s life.

The sudden appearance of the body makes the Duneen residents reflect on the past and drags up events they thought were long forgotten, with a mix of consequences.

Overall, there was a strong, concise narrative but it wasn’t so much the plot that kept me interested, as much as the engaging characters that Graham created, I found I really did care for some of them and their outcome by the end. So, if you want an easy, charming little Sunday afternoon read / listen, then pop this book on your to-read list.

Rating: 3.5/5

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