2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · crime · Ireland · mystery

Book Review: Holding by Graham Norton

Title: Holding

Author: Graham Norton

Published: October 6th 2016

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Pages: 320

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Mystery

RRP: $22.99

Rating: 4.5 stars

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.


Moving on from his non fiction biography titles So Me and The Life and Loves of a He Devil, Channel Ten talk show host Graham Norton presents Holding, his debut fiction release. A small-town mystery title with strong echoes to the past, Holding is an engaging title from the television personality.

Holding takes the reader to a quaint Irish village named Duneen. A laid back and uneventful township, Duneen is suddenly engulfed in a shroud of secrets, speculation and mystery when a body in unearthed near a local farm. Local Sergeant PJ Collins is on the case, giving this local cop some much needed motivation. This small town Sergeant is soon charged with the responsibility of solving this perplexing case, which involves questioning a number of local community folk, who will eventually reveal their links to the body. When stories of the past surface, involving the cold case of a missing local man, PJ must confront some difficult truths. What emerges from the ashes of the past are terrible acts, regrets, mistakes, sorrow, hurt, abandonment, concealment and ire. Will the community of Duneen overcome the dark secrets of the past that have come back to haunt the residents of this township?

Colourful comedian Graham Norton tones down his theatrical approach and injects plenty of gritty realism to his first fiction novel Holding. There is no doubt that Norton has a special ability on his popular chat show to engage well known celebrities in witty and surprising banter. Norton draws on his gift for obtaining the most out of his television guests to his wonderful set of characters in his novel Holding. This 2016 release from Norton is a book I regret not picking up sooner, as I connected to the story very much.

In Holding, we are presented with a richly realised and quaint village stage, which is placed at the centre of the action in the novel. Each villager that pops up during the progression of this story is well presented. Gradually, we come to understand the various character quirks, behaviours, opinions and back stories as the story unfolds. I grew particularly fond of the gentle Sergeant PJ Collins who leads the action in Holding. The discovery of the mysterious body and cold case focus really allows this police officer come into his own. Collins begins to see his true value to the town, but he faces a test from a city cop to realise his true worth. Holding is an engrossing tale that delves into the past lives and often unfortunate back stories of the people that populate the village of Duneen. What we as a reader are presented with are a number of dark secrets connected to the various townsfolk of the local community to unlock. This forms the general sense of intrigue that pervades Holding from start to finish.

Norton’s style of storytelling is sharp and wholly engaging. The prose is peeled back, but this restraint allows for a stunning story to emerge. Holding does look at the general proceedings of a police investigation when a body is discovered and the search for answers. However, what reader will discover in this mystery novel is a hard hitting story that looks further into society, morality and humanity from a perceptive lens. I know I couldn’t get enough in my search for the truth, it was often hard to accept some of the situations that occurred in this novel, it seemed like a real shame to me. Norton’s approach is realistic and revealing, accurately reflecting a time when scorn reigned supreme.

Relayed with an embracing and mesmeric tone, Holding is a truthful tale that takes an in depth look into the hidden mysteries of a community fold. Holding receives a high recommendation from me and I’m now on the hunt for my next Graham Norton read, hopefully asap!

Holding by Graham Norton was published by Hachette Australia on October 6th 2016. $22.99.


To learn more about the author of Holding, Graham Norton, visit here.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Holding by Graham Norton

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