Holding by

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It was widely accepted by the residents of Duneen that, should a crime be committed and Sergeant Collins managed to apprehend the culprit, it would be very unlikely that the arrest had involved a pursuit on foot.
–Graham Norton - Holding - c.2016

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. (blurb from Goodreads)

I really wanted to like this book.

I like Graham Norton, and his various incarnations of chat show host. He is always entertaining, and he comes across as, well, just plain nice. So when this was selected as my book club read for January I figured it would be a bit of light entertainment. I’d heard it wasn’t a heavy or difficult book, so I was looking forward to it.

I didn’t enjoy it.

It felt like a cross between a bad Maeve Binchy book and an episode of Murder She Wrote, with added Oirishness thrown in.

I almost stopped reading at when the first sec scene happened. It just came out of nowhere, and left me feeling that it was so preposterous that nothing else in the book needed to make sense. Also, the plot was very predictable. Everything was so sign-posted that you could see it coming from a mile off.

Plus it was set in a weird Ireland of the past, only modern. As though we’re all still living the life we did 30, if not 40 years ago, as though society hasn’t moved on and developed.

So that was disappointing. But, there were some good parts to it. There’s a young girls first night out on the town that was well observed I thought. And if you think about the title and how many ways it could be interpreted by the characters and events in the books, that was well done. Are the characters being held back? Are they trapped in a holding pattern? Are they holding themselves back because of their memories, their past, and their preconceived ideas of who they are themselves.

So not a total waste, but not one I’d recommend.

Post Author: Fence