LoveReading Expert Review of 56 Days

56 Days is entertaining and fast paced - Brief Encounter with a rampant virus and decomposing body.

56 Days is entertaining and fast paced - a tale of two strangers who make a hasty decision at a time of extreme stress, fear and anxiety. Multi-layered, brimming with suspense and with well-portrayed characters, this book certainly kept me on my toes. Set in present times, it felt very familiar, occasionally too familiar - a reflection of the early days of the pandemic, when no one could have predicted what was to come. The book has a dual timeline, focusing on a murder investigation in the present day and an exciting new relationship in the past. Occasionally, the two main characters give their persepctive on the same scenes, leading to some repetition, but I found myself trying to read between the lines - what they weren't telling each other, the secrets they were hiding ... 56 Days was a brave book to write (who could have known we would still be living in a Covid-19-filled world on publication day), but it doesn't come across as gimmicky at all. An engaging, unsettling and surprising domestic noir thriller - Brief Encounter with a rampant virus and decomposing body. 

Victoria Goldman

56 Days Synopsis

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? 

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781838951627
Publication date: 19th August 2021
Author: Catherine Ryan Howard
Publisher: Corvus an imprint of Atlantic Books
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 432 pages
Primary Genre Crime and Mystery
Other Genres:

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56 Days Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

In 56 Days Catherine Ryan Howard once again delivers with a slickly constructed, intelligent and surprisingly emotive psychological thriller set in Dublin at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown and just after confirmation of the first Irish case.

In 56 Days Catherine Ryan Howard once again delivers with a slickly constructed, intelligent and surprisingly emotive psychological thriller set in Dublin at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown and just after confirmation of the first Irish case.

Immersive storytelling at its best, the book opens with savvy Garda DI Leah Riordan and DS Karl Connolly being called to an apartment complex where a fetid smell signals the presence of a two week old corpse. Roll back 56 days to what appears to be the inaugural meeting in a supermarket between two shy twenty-somethings, Oliver and Ciara, both of whom are recent newcomers to Dublin and the tentative romance between the pair that ensues. When the Taoiseach issue a wave of restrictions and lockdown becomes frighteningly realistic Oliver suggests that Ciara move into his more spacious apartment and, as two lone souls in Dublin, it makes sense. Whilst Oliver clearly has a reason for wanting to be discreet and conduct their relationship in privacy it means that no one even knows they are a couple. As two unassuming individuals for whom suddenly moving in together seems out of character, the reader is never quite sure how much of their paranoia is justified but it certainly adds an extra frisson of tension to proceedings and by halfway it is clear that something darker is at play and tension ratchets up.

The timeline and point of view changes multiple times throughout the story with the most pertinent moments being recounted from first Ciara’s perspective then from Oliver’s. Whilst this could become monotonous, Ryan Howard does it so well, dropping in snippets of information that give the reader clues about the backgrounds of both characters and hinting at their motivations for entering into the relationship. Whilst Oliver’s secret is revealed first and the book became a compulsive read from then on, Ciara’s eventual disclosure I found altogether more surprising with the plotting top-notch. What surprised me about this novel is how involved with the two flawed main characters I became and this is a testament to the author’s stellar characterisation skills and how relatable both Oliver and Ciara - and their situation - felt.

Rachel Hall

So. Many. Twists. Page-turning, edge of my seat stuff. Loved it.

Absolutely loved this book, such a page turner. Twisty, contemporary and believable, the characters came to life on the pages and kept me up reading until way later than I should have been! I usually find books that switch between multiple different timeframes and characters' points of view confusing, but it worked really well in this instance, and I loved all the different threads and the way they linked together.

I will definitely seek out more books by this author.

Caroline Mathews

A new couple with plenty of secrets move in together for lockdown in this bang up to date, gripping crime thriller from the Queen of inventive plotlines.

As soon as I saw Catherine Ryan Howard had a new book coming out I knew I had to read it. I was blown away by the unique concept of her previous book, The Nothing Man, and from the synopsis I just new this was going to be another brilliant book with an inventive, and bang up to date, plotline. 

Oliver and Ciara are both relatively new to Dublin, they are both far from family and friends and when when COVID-19 lockdowns are implemented they decide to take the plunge and move in together. 56 days later, and someone is dead. Told from the perspectives of the couple and DI Lee Riordan, the chapters count down ominously to the day the body is found, and how it came to be there. 

This is a gripping plot, even if you think you have it all figured out, a spanner will appear and undo all your detective work, I occasionally had to leave the room I was in for one quieter, so that I could absorb the curveball that had been thrown and what that meant for all my theories. I was gripped from start to finish and I'm now more determined than ever to work my way through the rest of Catherine Ryan Howard's work.

Charlotte Walker

This is a very cleverly thought out, multi-layered story that was unique and superbly written.

Catherine Ryan Howard is a bestselling crime writer from Cork, Ireland and is the author of several popular thrillers including The Liar’s Girl, Rewind and more recently The Nothing Man.
56 Days is her latest novel and one of the earliest to be published featuring the recent lockdown.
- No one knew they'd moved in together. Now one of them is dead. Could this be the perfect murder? -
I’ve enjoyed Catherine’s books before and was intrigued by how the lockdown focus would work in a domestic crime thriller, so I was keen to read 56 Days. The story is told in two parts narrated in intermittent chapters; the discovery of a putrefying body and the investigation by the Dublin Guarda and then the days during lockdown when Olivier and Ciara meet in a supermarket and begin a relationship. Set out in various timelines, covering 56 days, we go back and forth in time and read the two characters differing points of view and emotions. I liked the layout and how the story was told, it keeps the readers attention and with some unexpected twists and turns, I was certainly keen to keep turning the pages. I did however, find that it took a while to endear to the guarda characters but once I became accustomed to their banter and camaraderie, I liked their approach to the investigation.
The country’s lockdown was recounted perfectly and was quite surreal that the author obviously experienced the same emotions and observations that I did during the many months of isolation. Although because of the lockdown aspect, not all readers will enjoy this if they were affected badly by the Covid virus or restrictions but this is a very cleverly thought out, multi-layered story that was unique and very well written.

4 stars and I look forward to the next novel by this author in the future.

Miriam Smith

Catherine Ryan Howard Press Reviews

56 Days is a terrific novel written by an author who is certain to become a distinguished voice in crime fiction. You won't want to stop reading until the very end. -- Karin Slaughter

This book is splendid. The lockdown thriller you DO want to read. -- S J Watson, No. 1 bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep

I was surgically attached to this twisting lockdown thriller. Clever, tender and all too convincing, it's the kind of book you read in one breathless sitting to get to the truth, and then again, slowly, to see how the author did it. -- Erin Kelly

Addictive and very smart -- Sarah Vaughan, bestselling author of Anatomy of a Scandal

56 Days? I read it in 24 HOURS because it was so compulsive, intriguing and fantastically entertaining. I could not let it go. - Liz Nugent

Catherine Ryan Howard has become my go-to writer for utterly absorbing, original stories with a killer twist and 56 Days delivers all this and more. If you read one thriller that captures the start of lockdown in all its surreal and terrifying uncertainty, let it be this. Just remember to breathe! -- Jo Spain

Absolutely faultless ... 56 Days is crime-writing perfection and Catherine Ryan Howard is a seriously talented writer - C.L. Taylor

An absolute belter from the high priestess of high concepts. Claustrophobic, thrilling and fiendishly clever in both its structure and its twists. - Sarah Hilary

Magnificent. A high-concept thriller executed with panache and heaps of emotion. - Caz Frear

The lockdown thriller you didn't know you needed. An utterly brilliant and completely satisfying pageturner -- Catherine Kirwan

Written and plotted so well and left me guessing up to the end. Brilliant! - Patricia Gibney

A tense, edgy and compulsive read - 56 Days is brilliantly plotted, darkly humorous and utterly unexpected. This is Lockdown, but not as you know it. - Sam Blake

A timely, twisted thriller - Image

Don't want to read a lockdown novel? Neither did I. Then I read 56 Days and changed my mind. Absolutely brilliant! - C S Green

Mind-blowingly brilliant - Irish Examiner

A timely, twisted thriller - Image

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781838951627
Publication date: 19/08/2021
Format: Hardback

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About Catherine Ryan Howard

Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin.

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