56 days catherine ryan howard
Book Review / Catherine Ryan Howard / Reviews with Spoilers

Catherine Ryan Howard | 56 Days

56 days catherine ryan howard

The Book: 

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard
Published August 17, 2021 by Blackstone Publishing
Date read: September 13, 2021

The Characters: 


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Buy it on Bookshop.org | Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

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

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

35 DAYS AGO: 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.

TODAY: 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?

Click here for book spoilers for 56 Days
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read 56 Days, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist

Oliver’s big secret was that he was convicted of beating and then drowning a ten-year-old boy when he was 12, along with his friend Shane. Oliver got a lighter sentence because Shane did most of the beating and Oliver just held him/helped Shane cover it up. Oliver was released on his 18th birthday, and Shane killed himself because he had 15 years remaining on his sentence.

It is implied that Ciara is the sister of the dead boy. She orchestrated their meet-cute and was trying to find answers about her brother. We find out she’s actually Shane’s sister, and wants answers about why he killed himself. Oliver admits that their roles were actually switched: Oliver did most of the murdering and Shane was just the bystander.

The Ending:

Oliver drowned in his shower while on Rohypnol (which he had a prescription for to help him sleep). Ciara had left him there.

Karl (the police officer) speculates that Ciara and Laura (the journalist) might be the same person.

Ciara feels like she got away with the perfect crime, since her identity was fake and she covered her tracks. She goes home and the book ends with her beginning to tell her mom and sister the truth about Shane.

The Review: 

This isn’t the first book I have read that mentions Covid, but it’s the first that uses it as a main plot point. I have to admit I was nervous about reading a Covid-based book while we’re still in the middle of dealing with the pandemic, but actually thought the plot was handled very tastefully. I loved the way lockdown was used as a catalyst to force the characters into close proximity. What a risky decision to move in with someone without telling anyone, though! As scary as it is to think about, I’m sure something like this happened somewhere in the world.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the trip down memory lane to the first days of lockdown. CRH did a good job of describing how odd it was to walk around empty streets and not hear any traffic. Especially driving down the Las Vegas strip with all of the casinos boarded up–it was eerie! 

The plot is told in an overlapping fashion, as you can tell from looking at the chapter titles. We read a scene from Ciara’s perspective and a few chapters later read it again from Oliver’s perspective, and vice versa. I liked this as a method to show both character’s reactions, but do admit that it got a little repetitive at points. The book could have been slimmed down by not repeating so much of the dialogue, which didn’t change between scenes. The plot also jumps to present day and the officers’ investigation of the body found in Oliver’s apartment. I enjoy when books tackle a storyline from both directions like this, and it was very well done.

Both characters have secrets, and I thought they all came out at the perfect pace. This is certainly a thriller I would recommend, even to people unsure if they’re ready to read about Covid.

I’m very glad I listened to the audio of this one, because I don’t think I would have realized how Ciara’s name was pronounced. Now that I’ve heard it I realize it’s the Irish pronunciation, but I certainly didn’t make that connection by just reading the book. I know how to pronounce Siobhan, at least! The audio production was perfect, and I especially loved it because I have a definite weakness for Irish accents. (Have I mentioned how disappointing it is that Pat doesn’t have an Irish accent, given that his father does?)

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56 days catherine ryan howard
56 days

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