By Graham Norton
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.
Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.
In a small Irish village live a cast of characters quietly getting on with their lives. Three spinster sisters living in the big house, Brid, an alcoholic mother of two and an overweight police sergeant, amongst others.
Their lives are turned upside-down when human remains are discovered on a local farm. It is strongly suspected that the remains belong to Tommy Burke, a former love of two of the ladies in the village: Brid Riordan and Evelyn Ross. It is up to Sergeant P.J. Collins to uncover the secrets and lies that have been buried as long as the unfortunate young man.
I was unsure what to expect from this book: Graham Norton’s sense of humour or a crack at a serious novel. What I got was a Maeve Binchy-like cosy crime; and that, my friends, is not a criticism. I thought the book was full of heart, emotion and, yes, some small notes of humour.
I thought the snapshot of remote village life with its surface pleasantries and seething depths was superbly drawn. The characters, whether likeable or not were always interesting and moved the plot along very nicely. I particularly liked P.J. the sergeant investigating the mystery. Not your usual brash police officer, more a man who has suffered a crisis of confidence most of his life, but slowly grew as the story wound on. I would love to see more from him and how he evolves.
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable first novel. It is a real page turner with a good plot at its heart.
I also have to say I absolutely adore the cover and could look at it and stroke it all day long. But that’s probably just me.
Many thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy via Netgalley.