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REWIND by Catherine Ryan Howard

Article by Swirl and Thread ©.
Posted in | .

‘A moment’s delay.
Then a frenzy of motion.
The woman’s eyes open. Her body rises, head and shoulders lifting from the pillows, legs rising beneath the sheets. She opens her mouth as if to scream…’

REWIND is the third book I have read by Irish writer Catherine Ryan Howard and it is most definitely her best work yet. Catherine is a bestselling crime writer shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger, the Irish Crime Novel of the Year and the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Recently published with Corvus Books, REWIND is described as ‘an explosive story about a twisted voyeur and a terrible crime…’

Entering the Irish Original Fiction bestseller chart at no.2, REWIND was inspired by Frank Warren’s PostSecret project, when Catherine’s attention was grabbed by ‘a picture of a bedroom and the secret was “I trade hidden sex cam footage with other AirBnB hosts.”’ Catherine decided to take this idea and use it as the basis for REWIND…and then she had her next idea…

‘I would structure the book like a videotape. You start “watching” in the middle, then you turn the page to find a ‘rewind’ symbol and you go back, then after that chapter there’s a ‘fast-forward’ symbol, skipping you forward, and at other times you might ‘pause’ or just let it ‘play’. You’re “watching” it all unfold out of order and it’s only when you get to the end that you know everything, you’ve “seen” the whole story and can finally put together the shocking truth. Time stamps orientate the reader and the story is simple enough to follow but complex enough to satisfy.’
– Catherine Ryan Howard

REWIND is primarily based in East Cork, a part of the country I am extremely familiar with, so imagine my surprise when I recognised the precise location, the petrol station, the craft centre, the beach and more adding a VERY authentic edge to this meticulously crafted story.

It’s off-season and Shanamore Holiday Cottages are almost empty, except for the on-site manager Andrew and one guest. Andrew is a pathetic and unsavoury young man who has serious and very complicated issues with a predilection for watching his guests through a hidden camera in their bedrooms. But this cold and bleak Winter’s night he witnesses something really horrifying. His one guest is brutally slayed and the camera is removed after by the murderer. Andrew watches in horror as the last breath slips away from the victim and the murderer approaches the camera calmly and with purpose…..they know who Andrew is and they know Andrew is watching….

Natalie O’ Connor is a social media influencer based in Dublin. Living the dream, married and financially stable, Natalie appears to have it all. But Natalie’s world is beginning to crumble as the cracks start to appear in her perfect life. Natalie (for reasons I am not sharing with you) makes an unexpected trip to East Cork in search of answers. Her mind is imagining all sorts of scenarios so this trip is her chance to finally get to the bottom of some unexplained, yet troubling, incidents in her life. Natalie immediately feels very uncomfortable when she checks into the local accommodation at Shanamore Holiday Cottages. Something is most certainly amiss with the manager, Andrew, but there are also other unusual characters and activities happening. Part of Natalie knows that she should immediately leave but yet she persists on discovering the truth behind her trip here in the first place.

Audrey, a reporter working on the Entertainment section of an online newspaper is looking to move up the ladder to the ‘real’ news department. She is just going through the motions on a daily basis, biding her time, until she gets a break. When she is asked to cover, purely from an entertainment news angle, why Natalie O’ Connor has gone AWOL, Audrey grasps the opportunity but soon finds herself caught up in something much much bigger, something more that she could possibly have expected.

Catherine Ryan Howard keeps the suspense up as the reader is taken backwards and forwards in time and secrets are slowly revealed. As a reader, we know there is a murderer and I’m sure many will have a good idea who and possibly why, but it really doesn’t matter. This is the skill of Catherine’s writing. For me the who is not really the most important part of REWIND, it’s the weaving together of the out of order sequences, the build up of the tension. the almost climatic reveal and then a sudden twist away. Like voyeurs, we get a thrill watching, waiting for the shock, the suspense and the gratification at the end.

‘This is a story about a murder caught on camera. When it begins, you, the reader, have already missed the start. To get the full picture you must go back, you must rewind the tape. Later you’ll skip forward and, at other points, you’ll just let it play. You’ll watch these events out of order but by ‘The End’ you’ll have the whole story. You’ll know what happened here.
Try not to look away’

– REWIND Catherine Ryan Howard

REWIND is a very, very eerie read with some seriously creepy characters. It’s most definitely a book that proved difficult to put down as I got totally immersed between the pages. I loved the whole concept of the chapter layout with the titles of Fast Forward, Pause, Rewind, Play. A very unique and very effective style that completely added to the suspense.

I am lucky to have met Catherine Ryan Howard on a few occasions, most recently at her Cork book signing in Waterstones (Cork is a small place after all) I did mention the possibility of THIS being a potential movie before I even read it, due to the positive reactions I was hearing in many quarters. Having read it now, YES DEFINITELY! REWIND is bursting with a dark, shadowy, menacing atmosphere that would totally creep you out on the big screen. Fingers crossed folks!

REWIND is a twisted, sinister and disturbing tale highlighting the many negative aspects of social media and the dangers that lurk in its shadows. With themes of obsession, voyeurism and MURDER, it really is the perfect read to keep you awake WAY past your normal bedtime. You have been warned people….

(c) Swirl and Thread

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