Book Review: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

“No one even knew they were together. Now one of them is dead.”

Set to be published on 19th August, 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard follows Ciara and Oliver who meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin and start dating the same week COVID-19 reaches Irish shores. When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests they move in together. Ciara sees a unique opportunity for a relationship to flourish without the scrutiny of family and friends. Oliver sees a chance to hide who – and what – he really is. 56 days later, detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside. Can they determine what really happened, or has lockdown created an opportunity for someone to commit the perfect crime?


Thank you to NetGalley for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

56 Days is a skillfully clever and darkly captivating psychological thriller that brilliantly uses our current situation of Covid and lockdown to heighten the tense atmosphere of a confined murder mystery.

I’ve read a few books that float around the subject of Covid-19/lockdown, but this is the first book that I’ve read where the author really uses the setting in a substantial way. The pressures of lockdown really suit this locked-room mystery, adding a desperation that we can all relate to far too well. I’m not sure if it will read the same in a few years time, as there are a lot of nods to the emotions that we are feeling right now in the year of 2021, but it’s certainly very easy to relate to right now.

Told from three perspectives, including one by the detective in charge of the investigation, the book expertly overlaps narratives from Ciara and Oliver to expose the many layers of this story, as the characters’ hidden secrets and misdirections are slowly revealed. There’s so much of this story to come undone, and I enjoyed every twist that it took.

Most of all, I loved that so much of this book is left up to speculation, meaning that everybody will react differently to it depending on how you feel about the characters. And it’s because you have spent so much time confined with Ciara and Oliver that the book can rely on the reader’s own interpretation, as your emotions will depend on who you believe, whether you trust them, and if you think that people deserve a second chance.

56 Days is sure to be one of this year’s best thrillers. Not only because of its fresh and relevant take on our current situation, but because Catherine Ryan Howard is undoubtedly a fantastic crime writer. I need to go out and buy The Nothing Man now!


56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard
Hardback Release Date: 19th August 2021
Print Length: 432 pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Corvus

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