Book Review: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

56 Days is an engrossing and well-constructed murder mystery set in Dublin, Ireland during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a real page-turner, with surprising plot twists throughout.

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The two main characters are Oliver and Ciara, who seemingly meet by accident after only being in Dublin for a short time. The two lonely souls tentatively get to know each other, and then rush into a closer relationship when the lock downs force their hands.

Throughout their relationship, especially in the early days, Oliver and Ciara are a little suspicious of each other, and rightly so – they are both lying liars who lie. The two have pasts that they aren’t being honest about. And 56 days after they meet, one of them is dead.

That’s about all I’ll reveal about the storyline because I don’t want to give too much away.

In addition to being a clever mystery, I liked the format of 56 Days. It alternates between the past – when Oliver and Ciara are getting to know each other – and the present day when a body is found and police are gathering evidence and trying piece together what happened. Some of the “look backs” are from Ciara’s perspective and some are from Oliver’s, and together with the present-day police scenes, the author slowly and suspensefully puts the puzzle together to reveal the entire picture. Very satisfying!

I also think setting it during the pandemic was genius because it added an element of surrealism. Rules were very different during the lock downs and people’s behavior was often out of the norm. Plus, the pandemic added an unusual type of stress to people’s lives. These factors all play important roles in the ultimate outcome.

Overall, I highly recommend 56 Days. Mystery and suspense lovers should particularly enjoy it. Would 56 Days be a good choice for book clubs? Definitely. There’s a lot to talk about ranging from ethics to forgiveness and redemption to the wisdom of letting sleeping dogs lie. There’s even a special cocktail featured in the book that would be perfect to serve at a book club meeting.

Thanks, Martha, for the excellent recommendation!

5 thoughts on “Book Review: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

  1. Oh, good – I’m so glad you liked it! I thought she did a terrific job of showing the story from both sides – so that we sympathized with both characters. It was also a perfect “pandemic” novel, since most of the plot couldn’t really have happened during more normal times. I’ll be eager to hear what others think, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds really good to both Alan’s and my liking, Michelle. Have noted it to our list of what next to read. May have to save it for my book club too.
    Thanks, Joanne


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