Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

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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 …

Natalie O’ Connor is a successful social influencer with thousands of followers on Instagram. Her posts make her life seem idyllic but, as we soon find out, it’s far from perfect. When she suddenly disappears, her husband Mike makes a heart-felt plea for her return. Audrey, a would-be crime reporter working for an online publication, investigates Natalie’s disappearance, suspecting that she just needed some time to herself. But, as Audrey looks closer at Natalie’s life and visits Shanamore Holiday Cottages, the last place Natalie was seen, she discovers that there’s a lot more going on both in Natalie’s life and in the cottages than anyone had known.

As a fellow Corkonian, the most pervasively creepy part of the book is the authenticity of its setting in County Cork. I’ve stayed in places similar to Shanamore Holiday Cottages in the middle of nowhere around Ireland and have experienced the uneasy feeling that I’m being watched and that anyone could be loitering outside. Likewise, as a city girl, the thought of being stuck in the middle of rural Ireland is similarly anxiety inducing. I’ve also experienced the stony atmosphere in tiny, close-knit towns around rural Ireland where visitors are made to feel like outsiders, despite the stereotype of the Irish being exceeding welcoming. Howard captures these feelings perfectly.

The characters of Natalie and Audrey are extremely well written and recognisable but there are also plenty of suspicious characters in the book. Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, is creepy from the outset and we soon learn about his sordid background. There’s also Richard, a man who hangs around the cottages, and who follows women around the town. We’re also not sure about how Natalie’s husband Mike is involved in her disappearance.

Like a lot of other crime fiction at the moment, the book is about the dangers of social media, particularly in this case, Instagram and the dangers of living your life online. From being plagued by fans to not being able to escape being recognised, Natalie’s life is portrayed as being claustrophobic and she’s always suspicious of everyone around her. In this sense, we’re also suspicious of her fans and of the people trying to make their way into her life.

The book is masterfully plotted with multiple storylines that are punctuated with timestamps and the terms Rewind, Play, Pause, and Fast Forward to introduce the different timelines and characters.  Yet, although there are multiple characters and subplots, they are all extremely well developed and are always easy to follow. I don’t want to say too much about these subplots as there is so much going on in the book but, needless to say, the ending is explosive and unlike anything I’ve read recently. It’s a very believable scenario that plays on our innate paranoia and anxiety about public spaces.

Catherine Ryan Howard is one of the most creative crime fiction writers working today. I really enjoyed Howard’s first novel, Distress Signals (2016) and, like Rewind, it’s wonderfully plotted and has a very unique setting. I haven’t read The Liar’s Girl (2018) yet but it’s next on my list. It’s fantastic that a Cork crime writer has finally emerged to put us on the map and I look forward to many more from Howard and others that are inspired by her.

Thanks to Catherine Ryan Howard, Corvus, and NetGalley for providing an advanced review copy for my honest review.

About the author

imagesCatherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Her debut thriller, Distress Signals (2016), was an Irish Times and USA Today bestseller, and was shortlisted for both the Irish Crime Novel of the Year and the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger. Her second thriller, The Liar’s Girl (2018) was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. She currently lives in Dublin, where she divides her time between the desk and the sofa.

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