I received a copy of this book free from Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton in return for a full and honest review.

This was a really pleasant surprise. I am fond of Mr Norton’s TV and Radio persona, however, being a celebrity might guarantee book sales – but it doesn’t guarantee that he would make a decent fist of his first fictional novel. In this case though, he does.

Holding is set in a small Irish village. As you might expect, that means lots of deep, dark secrets. The novel itself is quaint and engaging and some of the themes are quite hard to stomach – they really make you appreciate how hard society made things for people who encountered ‘difficulties’ in days gone by.

The characters are rounded and believable. The seemingly hapless and awkward Sergeant PJ Collins has a deep determination to get to the bottom of things and prove himself as a worthy officer of the law, proving to be, as soon as we meet him, an unlikely hero if ever there was one. Overweight and unconfident, he has to step up or realise that his policing career is never going to be much more than something that earns him endless pieces of cake and cups of tea on the coffee tables of many grateful old ladies. Or perhaps he just needs to decide if that’s not enough to keep him happy.

Graham Norton has a real eye for the little details – the things that seem mundane but later leap up and remind you of something you didn’t realise you’d noticed. This book is charming, tinged with poignancy, sadness, loss and regret, but also hope and happiness in strange places – the desire to make the most of your lot in life.

I really hope this is the start of a series – I’d love to see what PJ gets up to next.