Keeping Up With The Penguins

Reviews For The Would-Be Booklover

56 Days – Catherine Ryan Howard

56 Days - Catherine Ryan Howard - Keeping Up With The Penguins
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Is it too soon for a COVID-19 murder mystery? Catherine Ryan Howard surely hopes not. 56 Days is her latest high-concept crime thriller, set in Dublin in the early days of the city’s first lock-down. The wonderful team at Corvus (via Allen & Unwin) kindly sent me a copy for review.

In a lot of ways, this is a high-octane version of an all-too-familiar story. Single people (like Ciara and Oliver, the main characters) found themselves backed into a corner by the pandemic: either white-knuckle it through alone, or move into the same “household” as someone they’ve been casually dating. Ciara and Oliver choose the latter… and someone ends up dead.

56 Days is well written, well paced, with tantalising clues and a couple of truly excellent fake-out twists. The couple barely know each other when they’re forced into the pressure cooker pandemic situation, so the reader gets two (or more?) very different perspectives on the same events.

One important note: if you’ve yet to read Catherine Ryan Howard’s previous novel, The Nothing Man, there’s a mild spoiler buried in this one about mid-way through – the stories take place in the same universe.

I thoroughly enjoyed 56 Days – so my verdict is that it’s not too soon for a COVID-19 novel, as long as it’s a good one.

Read my full review of Catherine Ryan Howard’s earlier novel, The Nothing Man, here.


  1. Gosh she jumped on this opportunity quickly! It’s a new spin on the locked room mystery in a sense maybe?

    • Sheree

      January 17, 2022 at 12:39 PM

      Oooh, I hadn’t thought of it like that – maybe the “locked down mystery” is the locked room 2.0? 😅👍

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