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 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.
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Mr Norton is a brave man. In the style of many public figures before him he has decided to trod that well worn path of seeing if he can write a book. We all know what a good comedian he is, in addition to agony uncle, radio broadcaster – the list is seemingly endless but, as any writer will tell you, this writing lark is harder than it looks. HOLDING, his first work of fiction even now is being examined by many of the great and good book reviewers but actually what’s it really like? Is it worth the £9.99 asking price or should GN stick to what he’s known to be good at?
So what are you getting for your money? You’re getting a murder mystery set in the fictional Irish village of Duneen, where all isn’t what it seems. The characterisations are well thought out from someone with a good observational eye, but given the author that’s to be expected. What’s unusual is the way he has been able to transfer something he obviously uses as a comedian on to the blank page. His humour is there, but it’s subtle, not the in your face laugh out loud type. There’s sex, but not of the type to upset your granny. There’s swear words, but from a race that interchanges the Irish verb ‘to see’ with a derivative of the F word it’s to be expected, and ‘Gobshite’ is such a fantastic term!
This is a good solid read. It’s not Chekhov, but then again it’s not professing to be. It’s actually refreshing to read something that isn’t an Irish parody. The characters are believable. We’ve all met the Mrs Meany type with the balloon pursed lips, in addition to the Garda with more hang ups than the average washing line. I did sort of work out what was happening half way through, but there were still surprises to be had. Like any well plotted mystery the clues are there, and there’s no annoying ‘The butler did it’ type reveal in the last couple of pages.
So, surprisingly Ireland has a new writer to boast about – but not really all that surprising. If GN ever decides to hang up his mike there’s another role for the taking. I look forward to what he’ll come up with next.
Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for the ARC via NetGalley