Monday, 2 May 2016

Book Review - "Distress Signals" by Catherine Ryan Howard,

I received a copy of this title, from the publishers, in return for an honest review...

Adam Dunne has turned a corner.  After years of being a struggling writer, his script has piqued interest and it looks like his life is about to become everything he has dreamed of.  He can't wait for his girlfriend, Sarah, to return from a business trip to Barcelona so the celebrations can begin in earnest.  There is just one problem.  He can't contact her.  When she fails to arrive back on her planned flight, Adam realizes something is terribly wrong.  Digging deeper, he discovers that she was not even meant to be on a work trip.  It seems she had embarked on a cruise, and not alone either.  A handwritten note arrives at Adam's home, attached to Sarah's passport, with the simple words "I'm sorry".  Adam refuses to believe that Sarah has simply left him, and as the authorities are subject to 'at sea' restrictions, he begins his own investigation into Sarah's disappearance...

Catherine Ryan Howard's thriller debut is something special.  She has taken the crime fiction genre and cleverly added an element of legal and procedural uncertainty.  What happens when a crime is committed aboard a cruise ship, miles from land?  What country has jurisdiction and is there a definitive person, or even state, to hold responsible for any wrong doing?  These questions are addressed and answered as we travel alongside Adam on his quest for the truth.  There are parallel stories intertwined throughout the novel, where the reader is treated to snippets of  other lives and the atmosphere is taut and thrilling.  The cruise ship, the Celebrate, is a character in itself.  Its many bars, restaurants, swimming pools and staff quarters make for fine reading. The onboard politics are divulged whilst the secrets are hidden behind many doors and on many different levels.  Surrounded by the ocean, the waves of intrigue gain momentum and the chapters lead the reader on a bumpy ride of climatic thrills.  This is one of those books that has you thinking 'just one more chapter' at each sitting.  A constant, thrilling pace is maintained throughout with no unnecessary padding and each chapter is equally as important as the last.  There are red herrings, blind corners and a multitude of possible endings.  Don't be overly confident that you have it all figured out, as each page brings more possibilities.  

Distress Signals is a brave and assertive fiction debut from this young Irish author.  She writes with confidence, without facetiousness and has earned her place alongside some great crime fiction writers from this small island.  Don't presume that it is a book just for females either.  The cover is misleading.  A male protagonist and sharp, snappy dialogue makes this ideal for fans of Harlan Coben, David Baldacci and James Patterson.  I cannot think of a better book to grab for the summer holidays than this one.  It has it all. From Cork to Barcelona and onto the vast oceans of a cruise company's well-travelled routes, this is a page-turner that should be packed in every suitcase this year.  Just don't expect to dip in and out of it.  It will grab you from the very start and you will lose all sense of reality while it's in your hands.  Maybe buy two copies, as your spouse/partner/friend may feel a little left out?  I promise they will be just as hooked as you will be...

Distress Signals is published by Corvus on 5th May 2016 and is available in TPB and ebook format.


  1. Wonderful review give us this post and Catherine ryan howard also amazing writer and his writing style very impressive thanks for share it personal statement writing service .


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