Book Review – 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

These last few months I have dlipped behind a bit with my reviews so I thought I would try and have a more productive month of reviews starting with this one, which I did a buddy read of with a good friend of mine from Bookstagram.

This is the first book I have read which has been set during the 2020 lockdowns and the whole premise of it, including the fact it was set in Ireland peaked my interest.


No one knew they’d moved in together. Now one of them is dead. Could this be the perfect murder?

Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin the same week Covid-19 reaches Irish shores.

When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests that Ciara move in with him. She sees a unique opportunity for a new relationship to flourish without the pressure of scrutiny of family and friends. He sees it as an opportunity to hide who – and what – he really is.


Detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.

Will they be able to determine what really happened, or has lockdown provided someone with the opportunity to commit the perfect crime?

I love a good thriller and this one was certainly no exception. Set initially a few weeks before the first lockdown we meet Oliver and Ciara. They meet in their local Tesco and start a conversation after Oliver notices her NASA tote bag. One thing leads to another and after a few dates and lockdown looming they decide to move in together for those few weeks of lockdown (of course we all know it lasted much longer than 2 weeks in the end) and 56 days after meeting a dead body is found in the apartment.

As you know I am a big fan of dual narratives and this one was not only executed so beautifully but we had three narratives. It was all in 3rd person but we had chapters from Ciara’s point of view, with the retelling of events how she saw it and some with Oliver, as well as a few general chapters stating the events without either side’s commentary or 3rd person narrative. This gave it so many more dimensions as we got to see the events unfold first as an outsider and then from the inside of each party’s mind and their plans, which weren’t always innocent. We were also given an insight into the mind of the detective who investigated the discovery of the dead body which added a good outsider point of view to add an additional layer to a story which was already well fleshed out and complex, in a good way.

This book kept me guessing until the end and was full of twists and turns, and although I guessed to some extent what would happen by about 2/3 of the way through, I never envisioned exactly how it would happen and the ending was brutal, superb and just beautiful.

56 Days was made all the more poignant and hard hitting through when it was set. We all went through the agonies and awkwardness of lockdown so a lot of events that occurred we can relate to as a reader. This also made the book so much more unnerving as not only did it bring back the feelings of lockdown anxiety but the events which unfurled are not far from the realms of reality.

From the shortage of toilet roll and pasta to the thrill of being outside on your allocated daily exercise it brings back all the lockdown feels and then some.

The pacing of the book was fantastic and it kept me engaged throughout. It is definitely a book you will not be able to put down.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – a thrilling, unnerving ride from start to finish. This book will have you on the edge of your seat, desperate to find out who the body is and what happened to them during lockdown.

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