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 you’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 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.