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56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

56 Days

Early Release

by Catherine Ryan Howard

Quick take

Shack up with your quarantine bae, they said. It will be totally awesome and not terrible, they said...

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Psychological


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Unreliable

    Unreliable narrator

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Murder


Illustrated icon, Icon_Challenging_Indicator


This book contains mentions of suicide as well as scenes containing violence directed at minors.

Why I love it

Sarah Pekkanen
Author, You Are Not Alone

When COVID first struck, several authors I know grappled with the question of whether to acknowledge the pandemic in their upcoming novels. At the time, a lot of novelists decided against it: The global crisis was so rapidly-changing and immense that they feared it would overpower all other storylines. But into that conundrum stepped Catherine Ryan Howard, who took the opposite approach and with great success: Not only did she capture the bottled-up emotions and literal confines of quarantine, she also wove them into a pitch-perfect thriller that presents new revelations on page after page.

56 Days situates itself in the jittery, almost otherworldly setting of Dublin just as the virus begins to seep ashore in Ireland. We meet a young couple—Ciara and Oliver—who decide to enter lockdown together, even though they've been on only a couple of dates and each secretly feels a bit wary of the other. Cue the goosebumps, because within a few weeks, someone is dead.

It's a terrific, chilling premise, elevated by the plot's sophisticated architecture. Like a game of Jenga, the chapters pile up with subtle clues and layered twists—until one final piece is revealed, causing everything to come crashing down. This is a first-rate thriller not to be missed.

Read less


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?

Read less


Get an early look from the first pages of 56 Days.

Member thoughts

All (15744)
All (15744)
Love (6640)
Like (8145)
Dislike (959)
15841 ratings
  • 42% Love
  • 51% Like
  • 6% Dislike
  • Clermont, FL

    I loved how this book jumped between “now” and “then” and also between both characters’ POVs. Interesting to read what some of us expected from this pandemic (short lived) vs reality! Kept me guessing

  • Sharon, PA

    I loved this book. It kept me on my toes - every time i thought I knew what was happening, something would happen that made me second guess. Kept me intrigued up through the end. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Cheyenne, WY

    So good! I loved all the lil twists that didn't feel out of place and the way everything ended up being flipped. It wasn't the happiest ending, which I also LOVED because nothing is perfect irl. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • Londonderry , NH

    This is it, this is the book that makes me say “I love reading”. A surprise after another, I couldn’t stop reading and gasping at yet another revelation. Really well written! Thank you for this book!!

  • Sebring, FL

    I loved this book!! Great story!! Different that it was about COVID-19!! I didn’t mind reading about Covid-19!! Since it’s been a while since Covid-19 started!! Werid that that their wasn’t chapters!!

  • Pekin, IL

    I would finish one chapter and the author would move onto a different stage in the story or someone else’s perspective and I’d groan. Pure frustration. (In a good way)My husband just staring at me. ????

  • Plainville, KS

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 I didn't regret choosing this book for my July Book of the Month. First fiction book I've read that's set during the pandemic. The story is pretty good too! Well written and thrilling!

  • Frederick, MD

    I have no words. Really. It was clever. The whole time I’m thinking Ciara is the dead kids sister, which would explain the need to insert herself in the middle of Oliver’s life. But no. It was great.

  • Dearborn, MI

    I wasn’t sure I even wanted to get this book because it’s based on the pandemic. So glad I got it because it was amazing. I loved the alternating story lines and the different points of view. So good.

  • Saint Louis , MO

    Perfect amount of twists &turns. Read it in one day! I didn’t think that I would want to read a book about a couple during Covid-19, but it doesn’t center on Covid as much as the characters and story.

  • Waukesha , WI

    Loved how “current” it was, especially that we’re still dealing with the Covid pandemic. About halfway to 3/4 of the way through, I had to finish it in one sitting because of all the twists & turns

  • Frankfort , KY

    I really liked unraveling the layers in “56 Days”, it’s a book that took me on a twisty rollercoaster and I absolutely enjoyed the ride. I also was impressed by the way COVID was part of the plot.

  • Mineola, NY

    Didn’t think I’d stand to read about COVID lockdown after having lived through it but here we are spiced with a murder mystery. Every time I thought I knew what was happenning I was wrong! Excellent!

  • Strongsville, OH

    Catherine Ryan Howard knows how to craft a well-written and believable thriller that I just fall into as an absorbing escape. The concept for this book could have gone so wrong in someone else’s hands

  • St. Davids, PA

    You learn early that the protagonists are keeping secrets, but the eeriest parts were the descriptions of early days of lockdown. Just when you think you have it all figured out, there’s a huge twist!

  • Bayside, NY

    I didn’t realize how much that first disbelieving feel of lockdown would come rushing back while reading, but it added beautifully to the tension of the story. Wonderful layers and a too-real setting!

  • Marlborough, MA

    56 Days Jumps around its 8-week timeline — that’s something I don’t typically love — but the author does a really good job keeping things intriguing enough for you to fly through its 305 pages.

  • North Hollywood, CA

    To read about the pandemic in a work of fiction brought back all those early feelings of panic and uncertainty. It was a fun read. Lots of twists and turns and I’m grateful for a less dramatic time.

  • Mt Airy, MD

    I was skeptical about how much I was going to like this book because of how little I want to think about the lockdown period but was pleasantly surprised. What a twist with Ciara and Oliver! 4/5 ⭐️

  • Pickerington, OH

    Wow! The pandemic plot line, the characters and the reveals(!) at the end left me conflicted and a bit sad. Rarely does a book surprise me in so many ways. The masks weren’t just for the pandemic.

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