Wednesday 14 December 2016

HOLDING by Graham Norton

A small Irish town is the setting for a dark discovery that threatens to bring to light the long held secrets of its inhabitants.

Duneen is a quiet place, far enough from the big towns to have kept its own rhythms. Its residents include castdown policeman PJ who lives a lonely, uneventful life punctuated only by the next meal - until now; the beautiful and mysterious family of three spinster sisters each with their own secrets and sorrows; and of course, the town's gossip who think she knows the answers. When a grim discovery is made on a building site up by the old school, it becomes the catalyst for long buried secrets and rivalries to come to light and this silent, once innocent and repressed-seeming town is revealed to have a much darker, hungrier undertow.

When I heard that Graham Norton had written a mystery book set in a village in Ireland, I was really curious. And thanks to Hachette Australia, I got the chance to read this intriguing book.

Nothing big happens in Duneen. It's a small and quiet place. So there's only one policeman stationed in the village. One store that has a bit of everything and is mostly only used in case of an emergency. One chapel to serve the community. And several families with strange and tragic pasts.

The day bones are found at the building site of what's become an abandoned farm, it stirs a lot more than just the dirt. The authorities believe this might be Tommy Burke. The guy who disappeared decades ago and most believe had one day jumped on a bus and simply left.

What finding these remains does to the village is unexpected. It uncovers an old love triangle, a deep secret one resident has been holding onto for too long, and causes ripples in many lives, with long-lasting effects...

Graham Norton's writing style is so lovely, and descriptive. The multiple POVs slip seamlessly from character to character in a unique way that would normally annoy me. But in this book, it actually enhances the story.

Another thing that I loved were the characters. PJ Collins is an average, very lonely man who's let his weight control most of his life. But he's got a big heart and is in desperate need of adventure. Evelyn Ross lives with her two older sisters in their family farm. She's also a very lonely woman still holding on to the possibility of love from decades ago. Brid Riordan is a bored married mother of two who self-medicates with wine to get through the day. She feels like no one has ever really wanted her. Mrs. Meany is an efficient worker, but her past hides a terrible darkness she spent her whole life hiding.

The bones found buried in the ground affect every single one of these broken people in personal and tragic ways. 

I loved this book! It was intriguing and I didn't want to put it down. I couldn't wait to put all the pieces together, and although I did work some of it out (because I just love trying to figure out mysteries), I wasn't expecting where the story ended up. Yikes!

Holding turned out to be a delightful mystery about secrets being unearthed. It's sometimes charming, sometimes sad, and sometimes downright disturbing. It's also about how the past never really goes away, and how easily the bonds of family can come undone. The past always has a way of coming back.

If you like mysteries, stories about the human condition, flawed characters, buried secrets, small town tales, or just an awesome story--then you should definitely read this!

Holding, October 2016, ISBN 9781444792034, Hodder & Stoughton

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