Book Review: Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

August 16, 2016 Book review, Green Giants 5 ★★★★½

Green Giants is my feature where I share some of my favourite books by Irish Authors.   I’m passionate about Irish Authors, as they supply us with an entertaining and exciting mix of books, so hopefully you will find something new to try.  Today I’m featuring Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard which intrigued and confounded me .

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Distress Signals kicks off with a girl who fails to return from a work trip and then sidelines us with a note saying ‘I’m sorry’. Before we know it we are floundering blindly through an intriguing mystery.


Book Review: Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan HowardDistress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard
Published by Corvus on May 5th 2016
Genres: Mystery & Detective, Psychological, Suspense
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Received from Publisher

Did she leave or was she taken?

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 the 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...

!@#$ CRIME Mystery Page-Turner


First line of Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

“I jump before I decide I’m going to.”


My thoughts on Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

This page-turning mystery perplexed and fascinated me. The main character Adam can’t understand what happened to his girlfriend and in his attempts to track her down; he discovers things about Sarah that make no sense to him. I loved his confusion as it mirrored mine.

Location, Location!

The setting jumps from Cork, Ireland to a luxurious cruise ship, Celebrate that set off from Barcelona. Both settings described lively locations and oozed atmosphere. I loved the Cork setting in particular as I know it so well. Adam writes screenplays and has finally landed his first contract. I loved the glimpses into his working life as it felt authentic .  I feel certain that the sheer hard slog represents the experiences of many would be authors.

Adams’s logical mind impressed me too. As a writer, he is adept at research. So when Sarah vanishes, he draws on the internet to try to retrace her steps and to figure out the hows and the whys. I never understand why more people don’t do this in crime fiction, as it’s an obvious starting point for me.

I couldn’t connect the dots!

For the majority of the book I was puzzled. I couldn’t make all the characters and the plotlines fit together into a clear picture. I love when the suspense is held as all too often I guess the plot and it’s so much more satisfying to spend the book speculating. Or in the case of this one, I was lost at sea and paddling around in circles but making zero progress!

The author explains Maritime Law which makes the setting at sea so much scarier. In fact I no longer think of cruise ships as relaxing locations. Now they seem far more sinister and not so appealing!  But then again if I won a free one, I would take my chances!

Overall this is a well written début novel that establishes Catherine Ryan Howard as a suspense writer worth watching.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: four-stars


Who should read Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard?

I’d highly recommend this to you if you like layered suspense novels and a mystery to keep you reading late into the night. Fans of Ruth Ware, Liz Nugent and Linwood Barclay should also appreciate this one.


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5 Responses to “Book Review: Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard”

    • trish

      Not sure if I’d love it or hate it. I know I’d love the pampering though! And yes sounds like reading about them is a better option for you!

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