DID SHE LEAVE OR WAS SHE TAKEN?
Distress Signals is the debut novel from Catherine Ryan Howard.
It was published earlier this month by Corvus Books.
This book I actually purchased myself to review as it was a much hyped book based in my hometown of Cork and therefore one I HAD to read!!
‘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...’
Spoiler Alert: If you like to travel on cruise ships, this may not be the book for you!!!!!!!!
Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard is probably one of the most hyped books of recent times.. As you can imagine I was very eager to read it and I was so glad I did.
It’s rare that there is a psychological thriller set in Cork and admittedly, on reading the first couple of chapters I found it a bit strange. I was visualizing all the locations Catherine refers to in the city and found myself querying her descriptions in my mind.
Did the Garda HQ really look like that?
What pub was being described?
Where exactly on the South Mall were the offices where Sarah worked?
Was it the Coffee Station by UCC where Adam & his friend meet up?
And yes, all are as depicted. The accuracy of all these locations made me want to read more. Made me want to go the pub where Adam was drinking, to locate the apartment near the city centre where Adam & Sarah lived, to literally nearly do a walking tour of the Cork sites mentioned in the book.
But this book is not just about a sightseeing tour of Cork, it is so much more.
Distress Signals is a thriller set primarily on a cruise ship the Celebrate. Adam is a writer who has been waiting for years for his big break. Finally Hollywood comes calling. Sarah, Adam’s girlfriend of 10 years, has been a long time supporter of Adam, both emotionally and financially, but things are about to change.
Sarah tells Adam she’s off to Barcelona on a business trip. He has no reason not to believe her, so he remains behind in Cork, working on his rewrite of a screenplay. It is only after a call from her parents querying her whereabouts, when Adam realises all is not right.
Through various means Adam discovers that Sarah is not in Barcelona but was last seen on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. Adam begins to discover that there is more to this story. He unearths frightening statistics about ‘missing’ passengers and he discovers that the maritime law is very difficult to navigate through.
‘There’s no evidence of a murder, but a person is missing. And what’s a a missing person minus a body? Not a murder. Oh,no. Never a murder. It’s a disappearance.’
There is also a story running in parallel about a boy called Romaine and his estranged relationship with life and his family. We are introduced to a completely different character with real psychotic tendencies. Catherine Ryan Howard’s description of Romaine extracts feelings of sympathy, anger & disgust from the reader all at the same time.
‘The darkness must be getting stronger. This time, it had only to propel as far as the house. He’d done the rest himself. Even when he was trying to be good, bad things still seemed to happen.’
We are introduced to Romaine as a young boy in France and we discover through the course of the book the story surrounding his introduction into the world and the path he takes.
Romaine’s story becomes somewhat intertwined with Adam’s story and it is not until the end of the book that we are given the full explanation and the truth.
Adam sets off on a voyage of discovery in more ways than one. He meets different people along the way, some willing to help and others not so.
He realises that Sarah and himself may, for the first time, be in serious trouble with where their future lies….if they have a future?
Adam has to step out of his comfort zone and face up to some cruel but real truths about himself and their relationship. But is it too late?
Distress Signals is a book you are just going to have to pick up and find out for yourself what happens. You will be transported from Cork to various locations in Europe and you will be taken on a cruise on the Celebrate.
It is a great debut novel from Catherine Ryan Howard and I don’t doubt for a second the beginning of a very glittery, literary career. I’m now joining the queue of thousands who are already fans of this new writer of psychological thrillers…Catherine Ryan Howard.
Purchase Link : Distress Signals
Meet the Author:
Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982.
Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher.
She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin.
Distress Signals is her debut novel.