Graham Norton’s small town secrets are hard to resist

You would have been forgiven for assuming that not much happened in picturesque West Cork village of Duneen, where ITV’s quadruple adaptation of Graham Nortonnovel from 2016 Holder is set.

Sergeant PJ Collins (Conleth Hill) had certainly become accustomed to slow days and long lunches – that is, until this opening episode, where human remains were dug up on an old farm.

The rumors tore through the close-knit community. It was whispered that the body must have belonged to the local lothario Tommy Burke, who disappeared 20 years earlier in the middle of affairs with two women – Brid Reardon and Evelyn Ross. Suddenly, Duneen still did not look so sleepy.

Brought to life by Irish actors, including Siobhán McSweeney (Derry girls), Charlene McKenna (Blood areas) and Pauline McLynn (Far Ted), and directed by Kathy Burke, Holder‘s characters were richly painted and convincingly flawed.

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We saw one of Tommy Burke’s former flames, Evelyn, lead a new affair, this time with a local 17-year-old. Meanwhile, after being left at the altar by Burke before marrying another man, Brid responded to the news of the body’s discovery by turning down increasing amounts of wine.

It was up to Sergeant Collins to decide if she was drinking out of guilt or grief – even though he was sitting in his car, glassy eyes and methodically sinking slice after slice of bread, it became clear that he had his own demons to deal with.

Things only got more complicated when a handsome young detective, Linus Dunne, was assigned the case, and Collins had to balance his loyalty to Duneen’s island community with the need to solve its most vicious crime in decades.

With this first episode lasting an entire hour – and still feeling more initial than full – Holder‘s slow pace failed it. Yet the hermetic intrigue of small-town secrets proved difficult to resist.

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