In this Irish thriller, new couple Ciara and Oliver begin living together during the Covid-19 lockdown. But the romance gets thrown for a nasty loop when detectives arrive at Oliver's apartment to discover a decomposing body inside and begin a hunt for the killer.
Each chapter is set on a different day during this timeline. It's a genius move from Howard, who can keep readers off-balance thanks to this disparate storytelling, which skillfully reveals and hides key plot twists ... 56 Days is pure perfection and a psychological thriller of the highest order.
It is engrossing, suspenseful, and exciting with interesting and unique characters, but it is so full of twists and turns that there is very little that can be said about the story itself without spoiling something ... Howard crafts the story in a methodical and deliberate manner, giving the reader a scenario through one character’s eyes, then later builds on that with another character’s perspective of the same event, but without getting repetitive or dragging down the action or pacing. As she peels back the lies that hide the half-truths that cover the secrets, the author gives us that perfect book-club discussion opportunity ... highly recommended for any fan of psychological suspense.
The story is told in a way that many sentences, taken initially at face value, may need re-reading after the novel is finished, for they then take on different meanings. Since most of the story is told in flashbacks from Ciara’s view and then the same scene in Oliver’s viewpoint, that may cause the reader some confusion, or seem redundant, but those points of view give the reader the opportunity to catch revelatory nuances in each person’s observations. In spite of the crime he committed, it won’t be difficult to feel sympathy for Oliver, as his inner thoughts again and again replay his self-accusation and agony over what he did and how he’s still paying for it ... filled with a sense of foreboding from the first page. Nothing is as it seems, and yet everything is displayed in plain sight, if misinterpreted ... a thriller with a heavy atmosphere of tension, set during a life-and-death time in our own contemporary history.