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From Graham Norton—the BAFTA-award-winning and hugely popular BBC America television host—comes a charming debut novel set in an idyllic Irish village where a bumbling investigator has to sort through decades of gossip and secrets to solve a mysterious crime. “With its tale of provincial life, gimlet-eyed spinsters, and thwarted love…it feels almost like a Miss Marple mystery written by Colm Tóibín” (New York Times).

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama, and yet its inhabitants are troubled: Sergeant P.J. Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; Brid Riordan, a mother of two, 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—suspected to be those of Tommy Burke, a former lover of both Brid and Evelyn—are discovered on an old farm, the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As a frustrated P.J. struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his professional life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regrets.

Darkly comic, at times profoundly sad, and “especially inviting because of its tongue-in-cheek wit” (Kirkus Reviews), Holding is a masterful debut. Graham Norton employs his acerbic humor to breathe life into a host of lovable characters, and explore—with searing honesty—the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published October 6, 2016

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About the author

Graham Norton

25 books1,941 followers
Graham William Walker is an Irish actor, comedian, television presenter and columnist, known by his stage name Graham Norton. He is the host of the comedy chat show The Graham Norton Show and the BBC commentator of the Eurovision Song Contest.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,525 reviews
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,446 reviews7,062 followers
September 9, 2016
Comedian and TV presenter Graham Norton, is a well known and very popular personality here in the UK, however, that doesn't necessarily make for a good novelist. I was surprised then to discover that in fact he's produced a really good debut novel, written with flair and searing honesty.

Duneen is a small, sleepy, Irish village, where life has meandered along in much the same way it has for generations. It has its own police officer in the form of Sergeant P J Collins or PJ as he's known to many. PJ is 53 years of age and he feels as if his life hasn't really gone anywhere. He's never had a proper relationship, indeed he believes he's the laughing stock of the village due to his obesity. He knows that women don't find him attractive, and that the community snigger behind his back as he wedges himself behind the wheel of his patrol car. His career never really happened either, there's not much call for policing in Duneen. However, when a construction company begins excavations up at the old Burke family farm, they unearth human remains, and suddenly PJ finds himself in the spotlight - begins to feel rather important. That doesn't last too long though as the investigation is taken over by Detective Superintendent Linus Dunne, sent down from Cork Headquarters, with PJ as his gofer. It's not merely human remains that come to light though, but some long held secrets surrounding Duneen's residents.

This is a wonderful story about love, loss, dark secrets, alcoholism, troubled relationships - in other words it's about life! Graham Norton writes in such an easy going style that flows without effort, and you know something? I'm really going to miss Duneen and its characters. A really impressive read.

*Thank you to Netgalley , Hodder & Stoughton & Graham Norton for my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review *
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,713 reviews25k followers
September 19, 2016
This novel written by Graham Norton has charm and is set in the remote Irish village of Duneen, of little note until builders unearth human bones on a farm. This has the local grapevine over excited and clamouring for information, whilst peddling gossip galore. This discovery has far reaching repercussions for the residents. It is assumed that the bones are those of Tommy Burke, who apparently left the village some years ago, amidst a scandal involving two women, the now alcoholic Brid Riordan, whom he was going to marry, and Evelyn Ross, who desperately loved him.

Sargeant PJ Collins, the village guard, is rather fat and is ridiculed. He has used his fatness to hide emotionally from the world and life itself by avoiding emotional entanglements. His experience of real crime and murder is virtually non existent so he is understandably flummoxed when faced with murder. Detective Superintendent Linus Dunne arrives from Cork to oversee the investigation and a resentful PJ is expected to play a minor role. However, PJ is reluctant to accept this and sets out to delve deeper. As he does so, deeply buried secrets from the past come to surface. PJ for the first time in his life, finds himself experiencing what it is like to be desired by two women. He is a man awakening to life both professionally and personally. As he gets ever closer to the truth, he finds himself in mortal danger.

There is pain, loss, and sorrow expressed powerfully in the novel. We encounter the harsh judgementalism that epitomises attitudes of the past in society that have resulted in emotionally broken souls. The character development of PJ Collins was excellent. The more I read of the book the more involved I got in the story. An excellent book of which the author can be proud. Highly recommended. Thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC.
Profile Image for Beata.
756 reviews1,158 followers
November 18, 2019
A quiet Irish village, with almost zero crime rate and inhabitants who seem comfortably settled into their lives and routines ... Sounds idyllic ... If bones hadn't been discovered accidentaly on a building site, nobody would have admitted to having suppressed desires, emotions and true feelings. Yes, 'feelings are to be feared' and dug deep down, never revealed. Unearthing a skeleton is what allows the villagers to recal what they truly yearn for and miss.
This is a story of lost loves, hidden grudges and tragedies that struck, and were covered with thick layers of soil or oblivion. Graham Norton writes about ordinary people who are around us, but who, thanks to a load of emotional charge, become extraordinary. I felt for Duneen inhabitants, with few exceptions, as they are authentic and have suffered so much. A grand novel, Mr Norton!
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,798 reviews2,391 followers
July 7, 2017
3.75 Stars

Set in the small Irish village of Duneen, the kind of place where everybody knows everybody else, and if someone comes to town or someone leaves town, before sunset the whole town knows. Sergeant P.J. Collins is the village garda, an unmarried man with an uneventful life, an uneventful job, that is until the day the builders managed to unearth bones. Human bones. Most people tend to view P.J. Collins as a likeable fellow, if incapable of performing his duties should he ever be physically required to move swiftly, not that they were unkind to him.

Locals begin to gossip, conjecture on whose bones these might be, with the only person to have disappeared from their town was that Tommy Burke, leaving two young women broken hearted, Brid Riordan, his betrothed, and Evelyn Ross, who had felt he belonged to her. It is up to P.J. to investigate, something he has never had to do, never done. Detective Superintendent Linus Dunne is sent from Cork to oversee the investigation, a situation that P.J. Collins feels is wrong, it’s his first real chance and he has to take advantage of that.

Everything in Duneen changes when the body is discovered, and then a second body of an infant. P.J. finds more than he bargained for when he begins to question some of the locals about the disappearance of Tommy Burke. Nerves start to fray, people share rumours and “alternative facts.”
When P.J. begins to talk to the two women, Brid Riordan and Evelyn Ross, things get even more interesting as P.J. becomes the object of some affection. One woman is more than he’s ever had to concern himself with, but two?

There is more to this mystery, and more to this story than just the mystery. There’s the pain and heartbreak of the past held onto through the years, the sorrow of so much loss in such a small village, the loss of so many dreams, plans, hopes for the future as individuals and as a town, and the secrets kept for too long by too many. There’s also newly gained self-assurance that comes from finally being seen and appreciated – a powerful thing for someone who has believed he had little to offer. There are even a few amusing moments.

This is a delightful debut novel with some wonderful characters, but Sergeant P.J. Collins is the main character, and certainly a charming one.

Pub Date: 01 Aug 2017

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Atria Books
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,782 reviews14.2k followers
June 17, 2017
3.75 PJ Collins is the only law, the local garda, in the small Irish village Duneen. He is by all accounts a very overweight man who loves his food, which his housekeeper Mrs. Meany so thoughtfully supplies. His job entails little, there being virtually no crime to speak of, as the villagers just get on with the tasks of their daily lives. A quiet town, until bones are discovered in a field and thought to be that of a young man, who had once farmed this land, and was said to have run away to the city. Now PJ must use his abilities in solving this crime, which becomes especially pressing when bones of a baby are also found.

Although their is a mystery at hand, this novel, written in a tongue and check manner is really about the people in the village, the secrets they hold, and the loss of dreams they once had. Also about a young garda gaining confidence in himself and rising above the situation in which he is presented.

I have heard of this author, his show but have never seen it, though a friend of mine at work says she finds him amusing. This is his first novel and I enjoyed reading this rather quiet story, looking into people's lives and behind the facades they present daily. Maybe an Irish cozy as there are really few, well actually only one, heart pounding moment. A nice diversional read, especially for those who are more attracted to character driven stories as opposed to edge of your seat suspense.

ARC from publisher.
Publishes August 1st in the US by Atria.
Profile Image for Jules.
1,049 reviews198 followers
December 17, 2016
What an intriguing and emotional delight this book was!

I love Graham Norton, so I have to be honest, I was a little nervous about reading his book, in case I didn't enjoy it and felt disappointed, but it was exactly the things I love in a book. It's the kind of murder mystery story that doesn't get bogged down in police procedural, which is the part of crime fiction that generally sends me to sleep.

Holding focusses on a variety of interesting characters within a close-knit community in Ireland. Although the characters are very different from each other, they share a similar sadness and loneliness that makes it impossible not to connect with them on an emotional level. In some places it was a little darker than I had expected it to be, and at other times somewhat heart breaking.

“I went to bed with Graham Norton last night, and he kept me awake until at least 1am” is something I never thought I’d type on Facebook in my lifetime. Life is full of surprises.

This is a great novel, full of fascinating characters that had me so captivated by their secrets, I found it almost impossible to put down each night.
Profile Image for Aisling Zena.
635 reviews476 followers
October 19, 2016
4 stars

I have to be honest, I requested this book because I saw it was written by the delightful Graham Norton and I had no idea he was an author. I went in to this hopeful but not entirely sure of what I was getting. Thankfully any worries I had were completely erased in the first few pages.


Graham Norton writes in the third person with his narration jumping beautifully, maybe effortlessly is a better word, from person to person. He weaved a lovely tale that I devoured in one sitting. His descriptions, for me, were beautiful and it made me feel like I was holding his arm and walking around this small Irish village, eating popcorn and getting all the juicy news.

"People didn't stop in Duneen. In defence of the casual traveller, there was little reason why they should. There was nothing to make the village stand out from any other. Wedged int o a gentle green valley, jagged terraces of two- and three-storey buildings lined the road, painted long ago in the sort of paste colours usually associated with baby clothes. At the bottom of Main Street there was an old bridge across the River Torne. Beyond that, the solid grey chapel kept watch on a small hill. No one living could recall a time when it had ever looked any different. Time didn't pass in Dundeen; it seeped away."


The plot revolves around an overweight guard, Sergeant PJ Collins, an alcoholic mother of­ two, Brid Riordan and the lovely Evelyn Ross who feels her life has passed her by with nothing to show for. The days in Duneen are mostly the same, rolling by with nary a whisper of change until some human remains are found in an old farm. Huge excitement stirs the sleepy village with speculations and theories abounding from everyone.

I felt like I was part of the village and getting the inside scoop and piecing together a giant puzzle. And even though I could guess some of it with every new piece I was given, I was having so much fun turning every page, discovering every piece, to mind. It also had a few surprises that I wasn't quite expecting and immensely enjoyed. My favourite moments where when Graham Nortons acerbic humor would shine through.

"Linus?What sort of a name was that? How could he solve a crime if he couldn't even figure out that his name made him sound like a gobshite?"

If you love a good whodunit that takes you in picturesque villages in Ireland as a backdrop, do give this one a try.

**ARC courtesy of publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

P.S. Forgot to mention after I posted this, to any friends not from the UK, Graham Norton is a much loved TV presenter with his own show. The Graham Norton Show. If you have never watched it I urge you to look it up. Seriously entertaining and very funny especially if the combination of celebrity guests is just right.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,190 reviews1,131 followers
April 9, 2017
<3.5 Stars

Holding by Graham Norton is an easy and pleasurable read, better than I was expecting but not not going to make my year's favourite list

Holding is Norton's debut novel and is set in a small town of Dunedin in County Cork where life goes by and little happens out of the ordinary until a building site unearths human remains and the life's of the inhabitants of Dunedin become filled with suspicions and wonder and the secrets that were buried with the bodies slowly begin to reveal.
The book had several characters and each is affected in the discovery of the remains and we are introducted to them slowly, I liked the characterisation and the plot as both are well imagined and interesting. The book is well paced and while I had thought the novel was going to be funny and typical of Norton quick wit the book is quite serious in places and not what I had expected.

I did however have issues with the sense of time and places in the novel and felt that the modern part of the novel didn't in fact reflect a modern Ireland and this bugged me a little while reading the novel but it didn't take a way from the overall enjoyment of the book.
I was a little afraid that I wound not be able to separate the author from the television personality and that his TV persona would be all over this novel but have to admit that he wrote a novel that was so different from what I had perceived.
An easy and pleasurable read and I look forward to more books from this author.
Profile Image for Wilma.
106 reviews51 followers
August 22, 2017
Prachtig verhaal met onverwachte wendingen...ik hou van verhalen die zich in Ierland afspelen!!
Het verhaal is mooi, tragisch, met een humoristische twist en hartverwarmend...een verhaal zo beeldend verteld...klaar om verfilmd te worden!
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,157 followers
June 24, 2017
3.5 Stars. Excellent Bookclub Read!

Sergeant P. J. Collins is quite A character and is THE main character in HOLDING. For the first time ever....in the remote Irish village that he calls home....he has a mystery to solve....he is the law.

A bumbling Guard at best with not much to keep himself busy besides an occasional drunk, PJ finds himself in a bit of a quandary when human bones are unearthed at a building site....he knows not what to do!

Often ridiculed for his weight and well aware of his undesirable physique....a sweaty, out of breath PJ shuffles around asking questions, does a bit of research and soon finds he is enjoying this quest for truth.

Nothing heavy here, just a light, enjoyable read with a couple good reveals.

Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for the ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

Profile Image for Gary.
2,674 reviews377 followers
August 27, 2016
When I heard Graham Norton had written his debut novel I was intrigued to see just how good it was. I have read his biography but obviously this is a lot different and a different skill all together. I was very quickly impressed with just how well written this was, it flowed well, it was well paced, the characters were well developed and more importantly it was interesting.
The novel takes place in the remote Irish village of Duneen which has known very little drama. Human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be Tommy Burke the former love of Brid and Evelyn who was thought to have left the village many years ago. Overweight Sergeant PJ Collins who hasn't seen any action like this previously tries to uncover the truth with great difficulty and succeeds in uncovering dark secrets and a troubled past.
In my opinion the novel is less about whodunit but more about the characters and the emotions that run through the novel. I genuinely liked it and read it very quickly wanting to read it whenever possible.

I would like to thank Net Galley and Hodder & Stoughton for supplying me with an advanced copy of Graham Norton's debut novel in exchange for a honest review.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,065 reviews1,475 followers
October 2, 2016
I received this in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. Thank you to the author, Graham Norton, and the publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, for this opportunity.

First of all, yes, the author is that Graham Norton. I am not normally one to be interested in celebrity-penned novels as, dare I say it, they often aren't that good... This, however, proved to be a hilarious and thrilling exception!

Set in the remote Irish village of Duneen and featuring a plethora of stereotyped characters, I wasn't initially sure how much I would come to enjoy this. My initial reservations proved to be my eventual partialities, however. This had such a twee feel to it and the characters felt already known. It had a reliable feel, akin to that of an Agatha Christie novel: it was safe and yet exciting.

The mystery detailed is a curious one, the writing was completely alluring and I was pleased to see that Norton brought much of his beloved wit to the novel. This could have quite easily become a brooding and atmospheric tale, but instead there was hilarity brought to alleviate the darkness.

I immediately felt like one of the locals as Norton maneuvered the reader throughout the village, from perspective to perspective, picking up local gossip along the journey. It is through this organic gain of information that the village and the characters came to life and where clues were dropped, culminating in the eventual solving of the complex mystery that plagued this rural village.

This is a brilliant crime fiction read featuring provincial living at its finest! I hope this is the first installment in a series as I am eager for Sergeant PJ Collins to become the next Poirot!
Profile Image for Petra.
814 reviews78 followers
July 21, 2017
I've liked Graham Norton, who is a well-known TV and radio presenter in the UK, for years. So when I discovered he had written a novel, I was really curious to read it. I received an ARC via NetGalley (thank you!) but then I got hold of the audiobook, which is actually narrated by Graham himself, so that made the whole thing even more intriguing.
Set in a small village in Ireland (Norton was born in Ireland), Holding is a cozy mystery featuring Sergeant PJ Collins whose job as the local Garda has been pretty unexciting for the past twenty or thirty odd years. All that changes when builders developing farmland discover human remains. Could this find be related to the disappearance of a local man who, decades ago, had left behind two brokenhearted women?
At times, the mystery aspect became secondary as Norton revealed the painful pasts of the characters. It became a touching and on occasion rather sad novel about unfulfilled lives, about dealing with grief, loss and the constrictions of living in a small Irish community where gossip and judgment are omnipresent. At other times, Norton's wit shined through and made me smile. The writing flowed well and the characters and the setting really came to life. This was enhanced even more by the author's narration.
I admit I had wondered beforehand whether Graham Norton's narration would be overly theatrical, but it was actually very understated. He achieved a lot just through emphasis, pacing and subtle changes in voice.
Overall, a lovely piece of writing, a gentle mystery but with a compassionate and moving story and a well-narrated, enjoyable audiobook.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,062 reviews200 followers
February 4, 2017
3.5 stars

This was a pleasant. cozy mystery set in Ireland. The characters were likable, the interactions between people were realistic and the mystery had a nice twist. It was a great way to spend a cold, winter's day.
136 reviews40 followers
March 1, 2017
Het verhaal gaat over een Iers dorpje waar een skelet wordt opgegraven op een bouwterrein. De plaatselijke politie stelt met hulp van de recherche een onderzoek in, waarbij duistere geheimen van enkele dorpelingen aan het licht komen.
Ik was in het begin heel sceptisch. Weer een bekend iemand die denkt dat hij kan schrijven. Soms pakt het goed uit en soms niet. Deze keer wel. Ik zat vanaf het begin in het verhaal. Je kwam stukje bij beetje meer te weten wat er gebeurd was. Er zaten een paar plotwendingen in. Steeds dacht ik ja ik denk dat ik wel weet hoe het zit en dan las ik verder en had ik het toch mis. Ik vond het een aardig debuut. Ik ben benieuwd of Graham Norton nog meer gaat schrijven.
Profile Image for Mandy White (mandylovestoread).
2,140 reviews581 followers
May 15, 2022
Well well well...Graham Norton you are a dark horse. I am a fan of Graham Norton the actor, presenter. comedian and now author.

Holding is the story of a small town in Ireland called Duneen and its residents. nothing ever really happens there but when human bones are discovered the secrets and lies are exposed by the towns Guard PJ.. an overweight and under appreciated man.

This book has a great story that gets you in, characters to love and loathe and humor.

A big thank you to Netgalley and the publisher Artia for a copy of this book to read and review. please Mr Norton.. we want more!!
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,178 reviews531 followers
March 15, 2019
Graham Norton wrote a really surprisingly good whodunnit, given the fact that as a well-loved and popular BAFTA-winning TV-presenter of comedy shows, one would not expect Norton to be this thoughtful and observing of the other side of life: the sad, tragic, dark side so often blanketed in pretentiousness. It's a ignorant statement. Of course he would know. His gentleness, natural curiosity and deep compassion for people shine through in this novel of heartbreak, which is slightly tinged with a lighthearted wit.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book, and the way they all had a good and bad-hair-day. This is real life. This is how we would encounter the residents of Duneen, a small village in Ireland. The three Ross sisters of Ard Carriarg: Abigail, Florence and Evelyn, and then Sergeant Patrick James Collins, the protagonist. But there was also Mrs. Meany, Detective Superintendent Linus Dunne, Anthony and Brid Riordan, and Tommy Burke. Yes, Tommy.

The novel was not only a delightful, enjoyable detective drama, but also a peek into the lives of lonely people functioning together in a community. The discovery of human remains at a building site, not only ripped open the past, but lead to unlikely characters coming out of their emotional and physical hiding places to form unlikely bonds and friendships. This undercurrent in the book established this author as a serious writer delivering more than just a quick thrill to the mystery groupies, like yours truly.

Congratulations on an excellent debut novel, Mr. Norton. Keep up the good work.

Quote from the book:
Some marriages combust, others die, and some just lie down like a wounded animal, defeated
Profile Image for Rachel.
550 reviews926 followers
August 10, 2017
Most reviews I've seen of Holding, both positive and negative, seem to be written by readers who only picked it up because of the name Graham Norton. I was the opposite - I read the summary and thought 'that sounds exactly like a book I would like,' but my cursor hesitated over the request button because of the author. I mean, don't get me wrong, Graham Norton is a great television presenter. I just wasn't confident in his novel writing skills. But I was too tempted by the premise to not at least give it a shot.

It was... okay. Holding is a sort of cozy mystery meets romantic comedy (if I'd realized how heavily romance factored into the plot, I would have stayed away), set in a modern day small Irish town, which follows sergeant P.J. Collins as he attempts to solve a decades old murder. The plot is rather flimsy, and takes an unnecessarily long time to gather steam. Characters are well developed, ordinary people with Dark Secrets, but there's a certain intrigue missing. And it doesn't help that most of the Big Reveals are from people just... deciding to tell P.J. things at opportune moments.

The prose was technically decent, but it really failed to hold my attention. This book probably took me twice as long to read as it should have - I lost track of the number of times I realized my mind had been wandering, and I had to go back several pages because I hadn't been paying attention. Part of the reason for this was the rather poorly executed third person omniscient point of view - the "head hopping" got really out of hand at times and made it difficult to follow.

I think this book is in some ways a direct homage to The Casual Vacancy - a slow moving mystery set in a remote town with a large host of unlikable characters, it's hard not to draw comparisons - but for me, it fell totally flat. I was actually one of the few who quite liked The Casual Vacancy ('liked,' not 'loved'), but Holding didn't manage to improve upon any of The Casual Vacancy's flaws. Where Rowling's plotting was intricate as ever, and her first adult novel managed to pack quite a punch by the end, Holding was only ever a tepid, flavorless imitation.

Norton's certainly a better writer than I had expected; his wit and humor are as omnipresent as you would expect, and I like some of his ideas - I would be willing to read another novel from him in the future. But Holding just wasn't executed as well as I'd have liked. It was almost there, but not quite.

Also, warning: there's a fairly graphic rape scene about halfway through. Proceed with caution.

Thank you Netgalley, Atria Books, and Graham Norton for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,387 reviews115 followers
October 15, 2018
Graham Norton of BBC fame has written a debut murder/mystery novel that is surprisingly good. He has chosen not to have it be a comic novel—which would have been easy for him to do. Rather, he has written a rather melancholy tale focusing on how 6-7 characters’ lives change when human remains are discovered on land under construction for a new housing development. There is corpulent Sgt. Collins who has a sensitive soul and is somewhat overwhelmed at having to investigate a murder that happened years ago. The likely victim has been mourned by two middle-aged women since the time of his disappearance. They have put their lives on hold while waiting for the return of the man they both loved.

Norton’s characters struggle with loneliness, loss, and lack of fulfillment. The discovery of bones has provided resolution—but even that is difficult for some. Never fear—there are some surprising twists in the plot, and Norton provides an enticing glimmer that readers will meet up with Sgt. Collins again when he moves to Cork. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Josefina Wagner.
476 reviews
October 13, 2022
Yazarımız gönlüme taht kurmuş durumda, iki eserinide az bir zamanda dinleyerek bitirdim ve çok beğendim. Bu defa biraz daha değişik almış hikayeyi ama yine kırsal kesimler. Karakterleri çizerken izlediği yöntemi çok beğendim en azından kimsenin çok mükemmel olmadığı hem alelade fertlerden oluşmasına rağmen her birini de bir şekilde beğeniyorsunuz. hem düşündürüyor hemde acaba şimdi ne olacak sorusuyla kafanız karışırken buluyorsunuz kendinizi. Günlük ev işlerini yaparken dinlemek ise ayrı bir zevkti. İşlerin nasıl bittiğini bile anlayamadım. Tavsiye ederim.
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,905 reviews1,642 followers
September 23, 2016
There are 3 main characters involved in the main story. The first being an overweight guard P. J. Collins. Second is alcoholic mother of 2 Brid Riordan and the third is Evelyn Ross who has nothing to show for her life. The story is set in Duneen a remote Irish village. Builders arrive and start digging on an old farm where they discover human remains. They are believed to be of Tommy Burke a former love interest of both Brid and Evelyn. Sargent Collins struggles to solve his first investigation in years. The Village's dark secrets slowly start to reveal themselves.

Never had I imagined reading but his biographies from the author Graham Norton who is a comedian and television presenter in the UK. He was born in Ireland so is relevant that his 1st novel is written around an Irish village. A wonderfully written debut novel which will touch your heart with its touching, sad but cleverly written and addictive storyline.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Hodder & Soughton and the author Graham Norton for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Stephen Clynes.
537 reviews32 followers
September 29, 2016
Follow Sergeant PJ Collins as he tries to solve the mystery behind the body uncovered by builders in Duneen, a village in rural Ireland.

This is not a regular mystery or crime thriller novel. I found the plot very lacking. The story is told in the same style that Graham uses at the start of each of his television chat shows. Yes, it is witty and very pleasant but is awfully polite and never hits hard. Graham builds his story by developing the police investigation along the lines of a romantic comedy. The whole novel is soft and more like a situation comedy, for all the wrong reasons. This story does not grab your imagination and is very easy to put down.

Characterization is fair and it is nice the characters are ordinary people rather than glamorous style icons. Fans of crime thrillers will be disappointed in the police work of solving the mystery of the body. Forensics do not play much of a part but cosy chats between Sergeant PJ Collins and the villagers saves the day.

I found Holding rather weak and I got little enjoyment from reading this book. The whole plot was flimsy and when everything was solved, I was disappointed by the shallowness of the story. This is Graham’s debut novel and I feel that had it been by an unknown author, it would not have been published. Graham Norton is a successful television presenter and is very good at that job but his novel is a big disappointment. This book should sell well because of his name, think lazy Christmas presents for people who enjoy his television chat shows. I found this book a POOR read and can only vote it 2 stars. Don’t give up the day job Graham because there are plenty of good debut mystery novels out there but yours is not one of them.

Holding is available as an Amazon Kindle eBook and was written in 2016.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Hodder & Stoughton for giving me a copy of this book on the understanding that I provide an honest review.
Profile Image for GTF.
76 reviews101 followers
January 20, 2020
'Holding' seems promising for the first couple of chapters, but that promise gradually fades as the story struggles to develop. Holding's intriguing opening of a body being discovered gets very side tracked with what the writer is aiming to be scandalous drama between locals that is really just underwhelming, and sometimes silly. The investigation of the murder throughout the novel is very dull. The majority of it entails the sergeant reporting that there are no leads or new findings. Although there are a few 'big' discoveries along the way, none of them actually contribute to finding out who could have committed the crime. I think a lack of focus on characterization is what caused the story to turn bland. The characters all had strong outlines, but they felt unfinished. If there had been stronger characterization, that would have made the drama more enticing, and would have caused an unsettling, nagging guessing game in the reader's head, which is what is supposed to happen when reading a 'whodunnit' novel. It was like any of the characters could have done it, in a way that fails to catch any real interest from the reader .

The ending of the novel is just as disappointing as the rest of the story.The author was aiming for a shocking twist at the end, but the story hadn't earned such a twist. It felt like it was placed there at random.
Profile Image for Ivonne Rovira.
1,943 reviews200 followers
August 10, 2017
First for Americans, Graham Norton, the Irish host of a comic talk show, is as well known in the United Kingdom as his counterparts Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel are on this side of the Pond. Norton sallies into new territory with this funny, intriguing debut novel that follows the exploits of the bumbling Sergeant P.J. Collins. His Irish village of Duneen is so sleepy that Collins has never really had to do a serious day’s of police work in his life; that all changes when a construction crew unearths a skeleton at an old farm.

The presumption is that the remains belong to Tommy Burke, a handsome lothario who disappeared 23 years ago. The roly-poly 53-year-old Collins resents that egotistical Detective Superintendent Linus Dunne, dispatched from Cork, is presumed to be more capable of discerning what happened so long ago. In Norton’s novel, nothing’s what you’d expect — and readers will savor this spellbinding novel with its electrifying denouement. I loved the well-meaning Collins, and I hope that we’ll see him a sequel.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I received this book free from NetGalley and Atria Books in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,254 reviews
February 25, 2017
I know this isn't going to be everyone's fave but I really loved this book!
Yes, I am already a fan of Graham Norton and his wit and I did listen to this on audio with him narrating which probably added the emphasis needed to see this book for the hilarious but sad read that it is.
The story is very understated - bones are found in a small village in Ireland that send the locals into gossip overdrive and ignite the long-lost feuds that may lend closure to this mystery.
Sergeant PJ Collins is brilliantly drawn by Norton and all the surrounding characters are flawed (but funny) in his wake.
If you like character studies alongside a bit of mystery with dark humour and a cosy feel then definitely go for this.
If you like action and brilliant detectives with analytical brains and lightening responses then do not go for this.
The beauty of the book lies within the character's interactions or lack thereof!!! I highly recommend the audio version.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 150 books37.5k followers
July 12, 2017
Easily one of my best reads of the year so far, I think of this mystery as a cozy in the sense that it is about the characters far more than the puzzle, and there are more scenes of character interaction that have nothing to do with the mystery, and very few talking heads discussing clues and forensics.

The omniscient narrator once in a while shifts abruptly from POV to POV, but doesn't lost the reader as we get to know the principle people in the tiny Irish town of Duneen. Central is Sergeant PJ Collins, a fat man who never had much social skill. Being the only "garda" of the tiny town has sufficed, but he's secretly hoped for the challenge and bustle of a case. When builders find the remains of a man, it looks like he's going to get his chance.

Norton's characters are so well-realized, the narrative voice gently sympathetic while illustrating fierce loneliness and sometimes suppressed anger. The village is beautifully evoked, and--though I make no pretence at knowing whether the dialogue is authentic for the locale or not--I could hear the Irish cadences in the speech patterns.

I figured out the probable murderer fairly early on, but that was all right. I suspect the reader is meant to, or that it doesn't matter if you do or not, as it's the gradual uncovering of the past as characters' lives are impacted in the present that is the real focus.

I especially loved Norton's handling of Collins's situation, and through him, the delicate exploration of human dignity, of human connection, and of the ephemerals of emotions and how they add up over the years, into hard-won wisdom in one person, and burning anger in another. A riveting climax unfolded to a lovely, lovely ending.

Copy provided by NetGalley
Profile Image for Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice).
1,157 reviews161 followers
February 2, 2019
3.5 out of 5 stars!

For those of you who don't know who Graham Norton is, he has a popular evening show called The Graham Norton Show here in the UK. He is also a comedian and radio show host, commentates the BBC coverage for Eurovision as well. Holding is his debut novel, set in a small village in Ireland and following Sergeant PJ Collins who is new to the area. When human remains are found in one of the village farms, lots of rumours start to spread about who has died, how they died and if anyone in the village has any hidden secrets. The answer is that lots of residents do. The novel itself really focused on the emotional portrayals against the majority of the characters. While I did appreciate that, I really wanted more of a development on the case itself, rather than outside events. There were a lot of characters but the novel had good pacing. It felt a little samey samey for me personally, as I've read a lot of novels like this in the past. It's a perfect introduction to anyone new to the crime fiction genre. For me, I really wanted more!
Profile Image for Ingrid.
1,261 reviews54 followers
December 20, 2016
I wanted to know if Graham Norton could write, and I must say, I'm not disappointed. This was a good debut. In the beginning there were too many adjectives, but that stopped after a few pages which made the reading more enjoyable. It's a lovely Irish murder mystery story.
July 9, 2017
When I heard that Graham Norton had written a crime novel, I confess to being sceptical purely because his larger than life persona and innuendo laden jokes scream the very opposite of a subtle and dark crime author. I am largely indifferent to much of his television and comedy work but Holding was an unexpected delight. It didn’t need to have caricatures or play for laughs and whilst there is never really much of a rigorous police investigation between its pages, it is full of beautiful observations about the life and times of the sleepy town of Duneen and the various characters who have made it home. Whilst there is a mystery at the heart of this story, it is the characters that prove fascinating as the first sign of a police investigation signals the channels opening and over fifty-years of secrets and unspoken words begin to come tumbling out.

For fifteen-years, Sergeant Patrick James (PJ since his christening) Collins has kept a watchful eye on the residents of Duneen, just outside of Cork. In truth, there has been relatively little for the overweight PJ to keep under control with the overpriced grocery shop and garage of Main Streets the extent of the activity. The locals rub alongside fifty-three-year-old PJ well enough, keep him well-fed and are perfectly amicable, but he can’t shake the feeling that his weight and undemanding post has left him silently ridiculed. All that changes just as he is midway through eating a jam scone when a long dormant building development rolls into action and unearths what looks like human bones. Formerly a farm and now wildly overgrown, PJ has to inform Cork of the discovery, but with the gossip grapevine in overdrive the first rumours of just who the bones belong to soon make it to PJ’s ears. The word on Main Street is that the bones are those of Tommy Burke, and his disappearance years ago following his dalliances with two women was thought to be behind his sudden departure. Both of the women involved still reside in the village and a furious fist fight marked the height of a bitter tug of war over Tommy. Unhappily married and barely concealing her drink problem, mother of two Brid Riordan was once engaged to Tommy only to be deserted. For lonely Evelyn Ross, youngest of a trio of sisters who still live together in their old family home, life has passed her by after her adored Tommy disappeared and her domineering older sisters shoehorned her into never leaving Duneen. Yet it is not just these two women who are curiously ruffled by the discovery and PJ’s housekeeper, Mrs Meany, remains anxiously tight-lipped and reluctant to speculate. Detective Superintendent Linus Dunne arrives from Cork and sees what he has to work with in PJ (“Sergeant Sumo”) and his heart sinks, but PJ’s own appeal to the towns ladies soon starts to prove very beneficial…

Warm and witty, this is a feel-good read that offers some insightful and sensitive observations about all of the central characters. For all the humour and emotional upheaval, this is not an edge of the seat read but a perfect book for a rainy day that makes you appreciate the people who populate your social sphere. I hate saying that novels are ‘quiet’ because it makes them sound so bland and that isn’t the case as Norton’s wounded characters slowly reveal their scars and repair the wounds of the past.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,691 reviews26 followers
February 6, 2017
This novel was one of the top 2 sellers this Christmas in Ireland. It's easy to see why this novel has wide appeal. It is set in a fictional Irish village. This is post-recession Ireland, but much of the novel feels as though this village is still living in the 1960's. The main character is Garda Sergeant PJ Collins, an overweight 40-something garda (yes, the noun is both singular and plural). He is a lonely man trapped in a backwater town, with little to do. That is, until a developer finds a body buried on a long abandoned farm.

Although this novel is described as comic, I didn't find it funny. There are many sad and lonely characters in this small town. Is the body that of a local young man who disappeared 20 years before? As the story develops we find his relationship to three women in the town. Time is spent trying to identify the body, and PJ is persistent in questioning locals. Readers will come to appreciate PJ, and maybe like him. The mystery at the center of the story is sufficiently complex to keep you reading. This is Norton's first novel but he is likely to write more given the popularity of his first effort.
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