Summer Listening: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

Hot diggity, DANG 56 Days makes for a great summer listen. It’s another brilliant, well-crafted, original, out-of-the-box psychological thriller/suspense with thrilling twists and turns by Catherine Ryan Howard. When I read The Nothing Man in Aug 2020, I thought it was one of the best thrillers I have read in a long time, and now 56 Days is one of the best I have read since then.

What makes 56 Days a great summer listen?

  • Alana Kerr Collins does a fantastic job at narrating the story and I enjoyed listening to her. 
  • It is a well-crafted, exciting, entertaining story that will have you wanting to keep doing what you are doing so you can keep listening to it.
  • There is some repetitiveness when we hear the same scene from different POVs, so it’s easy to catch up when getting distracted

Where to listen to it?

I think this makes a great one to listen to while out walking or running. I listened to it while walking Penny. She can be a hand full and often distracts me with her naughtiness. It was easy to get back into the flow of the story when she did and not miss anything.

The hook, pace and why using Covid-19 worked. Was the story a page-turner?

Yes, the story has plenty of suspense, tension, uncertainty, and exciting twists and turns. I did not want to stop listening to it, and when I sat down to read, it was the one I picked up.

Catherine Ryan Howard again delivers a gripping, unforgettable clever original story. She brilliantly weaves in Covid 19 to create the circumstances around the story and mystery. She begins by describing an apartment building and the tenants while locked down in the present and uses that to add to the suspense and mystery of what will be discovered.

Then 56 days ago, Ciara and Oliver met while in line at a supermarket. It felt like a “meet cute,” worthy of a rom-com and I loved that. After their meet cute , Ciara and Oliver, decide to move in together while locked down. They don’t know each other well or the secrets they are hiding, and no one knows they are together. The lockdown makes it easy to hide their secrets and provides someone with the opportunity to commit the perfect crime.

Structure: How is the story structured?

The story has a busy structure as it jumps between the present day when Ciara and Oliver met 56 days ago, and covid restrictions in Ireland start to come into effect and then count down to the present day. We hear the same scenes from Ciara and Oliver’s POVs that did feel a bit repetitive and some other past events leading up to the present day. The present-day chapters are in the third person POV of two detectives Lee and Karl who are trying to solve the mystery of a death. It sounds confusing, but in Howard’s hands, it flows seemingly and is easy to follow. 

The characters: Are the characters likable and easy to relate and connect to?

I thought Ciara and Oliver were likable, with some uncertainty. We know from the start Oliver is hiding something which makes him intriguing. He is a sympathetic, relatable character and what he is hiding had me thinking deeply, asking myself if I wanted to be sympathetic to him. I enjoyed the banter and dynamics between detectives Lee and Carl as they tried to solve the mystery of the body discovered in the apartment building.

Believability element: Did it blur the lines between fiction and reality with a believability element that made me think it could happen?

YES!!! Using Covid-19 cleverly blurs those lines making the secrets and hidden motivations plausible. Some things that might not have added up make sense because of the restrictions. 

Payoff: Are the twists and turns exciting and shocking with a rewarding payoff in the end?

YES!!! Not only does Howard creates compelling, out-of-the-box stories, and she also layers in those “why didn’t I see that” rewarding twists. The kind of twists I love the most.

Do I recommend listening to it? Absolutely!! I also read parts of it and recommend reading it as well.

Genre: Psychological thriller/suspense

Setting: Dublin Ireland

Format: Audiobook and ARC from publisher

Published in Aug 2021/listened in June 2022

From my read shelf by Catherine Ryan Howard 

The Nothing Man

Brenda’s thoughts

Published and read in Aug 2020

I have read books within a book before however, Catherine Ryan Howard uniquely weaves in a true-crime memoir about The Nothing Man who has disappeared after killing her family while the nothing man-killer Jim is reading it. The story brilliantly alternates between passages from Eve’s book and Jim’s reaction to them. I found it fascinating to see Jim’s reaction to the memoir while he is reading it and it makes for an exciting and interesting twist to the story.

Eve is obsessed with finding the Nothing Man and she won’t stop writing until she finds him and he is hooked and can’t stop reading it. With each page, the tension rose for me and with each page, Jim becomes angrier with Eve. The twists to the story are heart-pounding exciting and while we can imagine what is ahead, Catherine Ryan Howard had some surprises for me with those exciting twists.

Eve’s book concentrates on the victims rather than the killer himself. The crimes of The Nothing Man are horrifying and distributing however, Eve does not focus on that and leaves the disturbing details up to the reader to think about or not.

Format: Audiobook and ARC from publisher: I received a print copy and audiobook copy from the publisher and I enjoyed reading this one over listening to it. I thought narrators Alana Kerr Collins and John Keating did a great job capturing the voices of the characters and it worked well when Jim responded to parts of Eve’s book. Eve’s voice has a stronger Irish accent and I found that bit hard to follow even though I thought it fit the character well.

Lindsay’s thoughts

This brilliant and creepy book blew my mind! I was utterly addicted — my mind was thinking of this book even when I wasn’t reading it — anxiously awaiting the next time I could steal a few moments (or hours) to sit down and inhale this story.

Eve Black’s family was murdered in their family home when she was a child. Twelve-year-old Eve was the only survivor after her mother, father and younger sister were found brutally murdered. Two decades later, the murderer still has not been found. He is a serial killer known only as The Nothing Man who has been linked to several other murders and rapes in the area. As a form of therapy and with the hope of igniting fresh perspective on the unsolved murders, Eve writes a book outlining each of The Nothing Man’s victims including her own family. The publication of her book sparks a lot of interest and creates a new generation of “armchair sleuths” intrigued by the cases and wanting to help find the murderer.

The creep factor is high! I felt nervous as I read about how The Nothing Man stalked and killed his victims. I checked the locks on my doors more than a couple times while reading this. The way this story unfolds is ingenious — extremely clever, unique and thoroughly captivating.

Genre: Psychological thriller/suspense

Setting: Ireland

On my unread shelf by Catherine Ryan Howard


Published in Sept 2019

Book summary PLAY Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges on-screen, kills her, and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t-not until she’s found what she’s looking for …

REWIND Psycho meets Fatal Attraction in this explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking