Normally, my impression of an author is created by how they write and what they write about. With "Holding", the process was reversed. I've known Graham Norton firstly as a quirky, slightly risqué comedian, then as an often outrageous but always superficially charming chat show host and most recently, as the Irishman selected to step into the late Terry Wogan's shoes to make witty comments during the Eurovision Song Contest.
When I heard he'd written a novel and was narrating it himself, I expected something quirky, slightly risqué but superficially charming. "Holding" is none of those things.
"Holding" is a slightly mournful account of the uncovering of bad things that have happened in a remote Irish village. The policeman at the centre of the action is a slightly slow, slightly overweight, slightly demotivated man, living a lonely life surrounded by people who see him as a joke in uniform.
The characters in the village are well drawn and the dialogue is nuanced and credible but I never really got beneath the skin of anyone but the policeman.The plot is well thought through but has all the tension of a crossword puzzle.
The claustrophobic atmosphere of a small village where people have known one another too well for too long is well rendered. There IS a lot of humour in it but it's mostly the kind that helps you survive what would otherwise have been an unbearable day and that is a brave alternative to tears.
This is an above average debut novel but one that didn't quite have enough emotional weight to be fully satisfying.