Book Review: Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

Distress Signals - Catherine Ryan Howard

An amazing debut novel from Catherine Ryan Howard that I’d recommend without hesitation.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads “I’m sorry–S” sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate–and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before.

To get answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground …

My Thoughts:

A fantastic debut psychological thriller from Catherine Ryan Howard. You are thrown straight into the midst of things with this one, after reading the first sentence – “I jump before I decide that I’m going to.” – my brain went into overdrive:

– Why did he jump? – Where did he jump? – Who’s after him? – Did he kill her? – Is he trying to escape? – If so, from who?

I think you get the gist of it.

I was so gripped by the prologue, I tweeted the author: “Only 6% into this book and I love it already, it’s so exciting!” A brave move I know, as I then thought ‘oh gosh I’ve tagged her in this tweet, she knows I’m reading her book, what if I don’t like it, this could be awkward?’ I needn’t have worried as this book was a breath of fresh air, and easily a contender for the best psychological thriller I have read this year!

The thing about books with great plot twists is it’s difficult to accurately portray how good it is without giving anything away. The main storyline in this book, set in the present, Adam (a very likeable guy) is aboard the cruise ship looking for his girlfriend, unsure if she’s missing, hiding or dead. Every so often the chronology switches to the past and we are given a glimpse into the childhood of Romain, a young boy whose mother also happens to be on board the cruise ship. These two storylines come together to create an unforgettable ending.

This is not one of those books where you have to wait until the plot twist is revealed to be wowed. There are so many great twists and turns along the way, Howard really keeps you gripped from the first page to the last! A face-paced read, that’s exciting and easy to follow.

There’s a great part in this book where Adam explains what people really mean when they say “I didn’t know what to think” and what it really means to go “weak at the knees.” After finishing the book, this stuck with me as we all use comments like these without really thinking what they mean and I like how Howard explained these two phrases in the literal sense.

Now should anyone suggest I go on a cruise ship at any time in the future, I will simply reply, “no thank you, I need land and I need witnesses, in fact I don’t even want to take a sailing boat out into shallow waters, no thank you!”

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

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