56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard reviewed

56 Days Book Cover 56 Days
Catherine Ryan Howard
Atlantic Books
August 19, 2021

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

Ciara and Oliver 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.

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?

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

In 56 Days it’s 2020 in Dublin a few days before COVID lockdown starts. Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket while queuing to pay for their purchases. When lockdown starts they are just getting started on a relationship and decide to move in together. Just over 30 days after that the police find Oliver’s body in his flat. I found the opening had me engaged. It’s one of those time shift stories. Ciara and Oliver get to have their say about their meeting and events after that. Lee (the DI in the case) comes into it with her views in the current time.

The actual time shifted chapters are well enough signposted although they do jump around in terms of both time and the person whose narrative it is. As time goes by aspects are revealed that make you look again at the story overall. I really would prefer not to give anything more than that away!

In general I found both characters (& Lee) good enough. The pace was fine too and the use of the Covid situation was a good idea for this story. I really enjoyed this author’s book The Nothing Man and so I was looking forward to 56 Days. I do find it quite hard to put a finger on just why I didn’t love this. In the end I think the timing of some of the reveals didn’t really work all that well for me. I confess that one twist did surprise me however I probably worked some of the twists out ahead of time.

56 Days is not a bad story at all – I have read far worse – however for me it didn’t quite have the edge I was hoping for or that the previous book had. I’ll certainly read more from this author.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review