#BookReview: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard @cathryanhoward @BorrowBox

Hi everyone! Today, I have a book review for an author I enjoy. I saw this book on my local library’s list, and I was able to download it for free, using an app called Borrowbox. I am so pleased I gave this read a go, and I shall be checking out yet more reads by Catherine Ryan Howard >>>

About the Book:

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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?

My Review:


A Slow Burn but Gripping

Usually, a book that even dares to mention “Covid” once will send me running for the hills and screaming my lungs out. However, the pretext of lockdowns was used so skillfully, and the whole subject dealt with so sensitively, that I hardly realised I was reading about a time-period which bracketed the unmentionable virus. There was no belabouring the point at all, and the plot and premise most definitely took centre stage in this entertaining read. For me, this is a wonderfully imaginative take on the whole concept of lockdown and how that can be used to further your own nefarious ends. 

“It’s like one of those viral videos taken inside some swanky apartment complex, where all the slim and fit thirty-something residents are doing star jumps behind the glass railings of their balconies while the world burns.” From this lengthy yet intriguing opening line, we are dragged–quite compellingly–into the world of Ciara and Oliver, where nothing and nobody is what they seem. The world building, characterisation, and plot building were all well done, and I found myself able to believe the set-up and fall into the story.

While the pacing is at a slow burn, it’s a gripping read nonetheless, and I did not want to have to put it down. Here are some lines I loved … 

The residents are used to living above and below and beside other people’s entire lives while pretending to be utterly unaware of them; hearing each other’s TVs and smelling each other’s cooking but never learning each other’s names.” … A sad but true observation of modern-day life.

And … “Which was bad, because he couldn’t afford to feel good. That was always when bad things started to happen.”

And … “Everything he’s wearing is fit so snugly that she fears she could be committing a sex crime just by looking at him.” 

And, finally, … “The stench feels like it’s got so thick that it’s taken on a solid shape, and that shape is coiling around Lee’s neck like a deadly python, slithering and tightening, making her windpipe dangerously small.”

 As you can see, I enjoyed this book immensely. The main reason this read didn’t get five stars was due to the frequent overuse of unnecessary words such as “practically”, “literally” and “really”, which I find so totally off-putting and which detract from the enjoyment of the read. Time and again, this sort of stuff pulled me out of the fiction, and I had to work to get back into the tension of the story. As it is, I did enjoy this book and will most definitely check out the writer’s other books. 56 Days gets a solid four stars from me.


NOTE ON RATINGS: I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to, I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning and which moved me.


4 STARS: I WOULD PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER — Go read this book.

3 STARS: IT WAS GOOD! — An okay read. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it.

2 STARS: I MAY HAVE LIKED A FEW THINGS —Lacking in some areas: writing, characterisation, and/or problematic plot lines.

1 STAR: NOT MY CUP OF TEA —Lots of issues with this book.


I’d love to hear what you think of this review. Thanks for stopping by 🙂


For anyone interested, here are the Amazon links …


UK … https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08R8XRTB2/

US … https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08R8XRTB2/

16 Comments on “#BookReview: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard @cathryanhoward @BorrowBox

  1. Clever of this author to use the pandemic for setting purposes rather than as the primary objective of the story. This sounds intriguing, Harmony.

  2. Harmony, this book has been on my reading radar for a long time. I’ve been on the fence about it from the start, and had forgotten about it until I saw your review. I’m going to have to see if I can use Libby to borrow it from my library. It does sound like something I’d enjoy. Thanks for the review!

  3. I still avoid covid as a fictional topic. I think ultimately, we’re all going to see more fiction about it. It’s such a large portion of this decade that it’s bound to get more traction.

    • I think you’re spot on, Craig. It’s inevitable really unless we ignore a whole decade or so from here on in. Thanks for stopping by! 💕🙂

  4. Good review, Harmony. I swore that I wouldn’t read (and I definitely won’t write) a book that talks about Covid. I recently had one slip through but there was only a brief mention at the end of the book.

    This one sounds compelling, however.

    • This slipped through my net, lols. Definitely compelling! Thanks, Joan 💕🙂

  5. Interesting review, Harmony,, but I won’t be reading the book. I have a friend with a husband in hospital, desperately ill with an unrated condition, who she is unable to visit dur to a Covid Amber Alert. I enjoy mysteries, thrillers, and horror, but this is too close to home. :-(.

    • I’m sure, Sarah. We don’t read books to immerse us further in our mess but for a bit of escapism. Sending hugs 💕🙂

  6. I have to agree with you about COVID, Harmony. It’s all still so fresh and still relevant, I don’t think I’d enjoy a story based on the virus and lockdown. But sounds like this author did a great job. Thank you for sharing!