5 June 2022

Review: DISTRESS SIGNALS, Catherine Ryan Howard

  • this edition made available as an e-book on Libby through my local library
  • First published 2016
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 368 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1504757521
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1504757522
  • An Amazon Rising Star Best Debut Novel 2016 (UK edition) and Shortlisted for the IBA Crime Novel of the Year Award 2016
  • Amazon listing

Synopsis (Amazon)

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 Take

Before the global pandemic, thousands, hundreds of thousands, of people took cruises all over the world, and I was amongst them.  And every year, dozens, perhaps hundreds, of those passengers went missing. In some cases the disappearances were never solved. Some cases have made headlines in Australian and international newspapers.  But my guess is that very few of the missing were meant to be somewhere else.

When Sarah goes off to Barcelona for a conference Adam Dunne accepts that she will be away for just 4 days. When she doesn't answer his phone messages he puts it down to technology failure. It is only when he finds out that he is the only one who thinks she has gone to a conference that he becomes alarmed. Work says she has called in sick, and her parents are unaware that she is away. When she is not on her scheduled return flight then Adam becomes really alarmed.

What has happened to Sarah, and the reasons behind it, takes a bit of untangling. Adam finds himself on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean with another man whose wife went missing from the same ship a year earlier. There is yet another story running in the background of this book and it is not until nearly the end of the book that the reason for it being there is revealed.

I ended the book feeling that while I thought I knew everything, there were some t's not crossed and some i's not dotted. Maybe I just wasn't reading carefully enough at that stage. Nevertheless it was an engaging read. It is a debut novel, and the praise heaped on the novels that follow it encourage me to read this author again.

My rating: 4.4 

About the Author
Catherine Ryan Howard is an internationally bestselling crime writer from Cork, Ireland. Her most recent novel, 56 Days, was an Irish no. 1 bestseller, won Crime Fiction Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards and was named a best thriller of 2021 by the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Irish Times. Her previous work has been shortlisted for the Edgar Award for Best Novel, the CWA’s John Creasey New Blood and Ian Fleming Steel Daggers and Irish Crime Novel of the Year multiple times. She lives in Dublin.

Books by Catherine Ryan Howard- all stand alone novels
2021 56 DAYS

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