Book Review: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

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?

It took me a little while to get in to this one but I’m glad I stuck with it because it quickly became a gripping story. Told from both point of view and that of one of the police officers called to Oliver’s apartment, the story unwinds in bit and pieces crossing back and forth across the 56 day timeline.

While we know from the beginning that Oliver is clearly hiding something, it takes a long time for us to find out what exactly that is. The author does a great job at keeping the reader in the dark while not seeing like its deliberately being hidden from you – we find out exactly when we need to and when it fits the narrative best.

Oliver was hard to read as a character and this fitted with his hiding of his true self from Ciara. There were times when I truly felt for him and other where he was quite dark and scary and I wanted Ciara to leave.

Ciara herself was also an unknown quantity – again we were introduced to her both through her narrative and as Oliver saw her, and as Oliver was questioning of her it made her feel untrustworthy at times although she didn’t present that way herself.

The story was very cleverly constructed and I absolutely fell into some of the traps that the author had set – I didn’t manage to work out exactly what had happened until we got to see it. While maybe not the most traditional of crime novel endings it felt like it fitted and I wasn’t left disappointed.

With thanks to Atlantic Books and Netgalley for an e-copy in exchange for honest review.

56 Days will be published 19 August 2021