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Holding by Graham Norton - Review

Saturday, October 12, 2019

When I read Graham's second book in August, I knew I wanted to read his first one too. I got it on eBay a couple of weeks ago and picked it up straight away. I had heard it was a crime novel, so was intrigued to read it.

It is somewhat of a straight crime narrative, but with extra parts of a book that make it much more than just a crime novel. PJ Collins is a police officer in Duneen, a small town near Cork. He is the only officer there, and for the most part all he does is hand out parking tickets and that kind of thing. Then one day, builders from the new development up on a farm that used to belong to the Burke family find the bones of an adult male on the land, and all building work must stop.

The body is widely believed to be that of Tommy Burke, the son of the original owners, who disappeared over twenty years ago. It is said that he got on the bus to Cork and never returned, but the discovery of the body puts a new slant on things. PJ tries to get to the bottom of what happened, but detectives from Cork come down to help too. PJ and the SIO Dunne don't really get along.

At the time he disappeared, Tommy was engaged to Brid O'Riordan, now married to Anthony, and struggling with an alcohol addiction. She is desperately unhappy and is trying to repair her marriage. Tommy was also kind of seeing a girl called Evelyn, and the two girls had a spat in the street.

Evelyn is the youngest of the Ross girls, is now around 40, and lives with her sister Florence and Abigail. The family had a lot of tragedy when they were younger through the deaths of both their parents (I'll give a trigger warning for suicide here) and have ended up living together for years. The older sisters are protective of Evelyn and she feels like she's never got over Tommy rebuffal of her. The minute a body is found, she feels the weight of it come crashing back around her.

I enjoyed the book, I thought it was an interesting story and I liked the lives of the villagers portrayed. I really liked Evelyn and wanted her to be okay. I liked PJ, I liked the ending for him too.

There is a lot of negative talk about PJ's body. He is fat, and it is commented on again and again to a frustrating degree. We get it, you don't like fat people, cool story. I really disliked that part of the book.

I will say too that the point of view is all over the place within paragraphs in this book. For example, there's a bit which is clearly from Evelyn's point of view, but then there's a bit where it says "Evelyn looked as if --" as if someone else was observing her. It makes no sense and it happens quite a bit. You'd think an editor would have caught it, because I can't see a reason that it's done stylistically.

Overall, I'm giving it 3.5 out of five, I liked it but liked Graham's other book better. Maybe his next one will improve again!

 

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