Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Distress Signals – Catherine Ryan Howard

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller

When this book turned up, beautifully wrapped and with a complimentary book mar and a do not disturb sign I really wasn’t sure what to expect, and so with some trepidation I embarked on another psychological thriller, but this time there was a difference the most obvious being the setting. I’ve not read one yet based on a cruise ship. As a warning for any of you looking forward to a summer cruise, this book may well make you think again!

The book opens with Sarah telling Adam that she’s off to a conference for a few days and will return to Ireland from Barcelona early next week. Despite wanting to go with her, Adam has finally had his big break, his script has been accepted and he needs to spend their time apart re-writing. The young couple have been together for a good decade and finally they will have some money so life is looking good. Having told Adam that her texts and calls may be infrequent Sarah sends just one to say that she’s landed, and he hears nothing else…

This is an incredibly well-plotted tale with realistic and likeable characters, not for Catherine Ryan Howard the instant panic and breast-beating that weaker books indulge in, rather Adam behaves in a normal fashion, starting off by telling himself why everything is ok, getting a tad worried, becoming panicked and cycling between these states until revelations changes his view of their relationship entirely.

In amongst Adam and Sarah’s story we witness life on a cruise ship as told through the eyes of one of Blue Wave’s employees, Corrine. Corrine cleans the cabins, makes friends with a new employee and shows us around the staff quarters. I’ve never been on a cruise ship but it all sounded totally authentic to me. The crew work hard to make the fortunate travellers have a good time, working around shortages and minor mishaps as many a service provider does the world over.

We also hear from a young boy in 1990s France whose relationship with his mother is a little rocky to say the least. There is something very unsettling about these pages and their inclusion serves to enhance the already elastic-band-about-to-snap tension in the rest of the book.

But the really scary bit is the way that crime on a cruise ship is managed based upon would you believe it nationality. The police force responsible for the ship is that in the jurisdiction its registered so our cruise-liner which makes trips between Barcelona and Nice in France is actually the responsibility of the police force of the Bahamas, unless, you happen to come from the US who have their own laws, then any serious crime is investigated by the FBI, fascinating stuff!

What more can I say? The plot was excellent, the writing captivating and the characters realistic. There were a number of heart-breaking moments, a few of those wonderful ‘aha’ moments when bits of the puzzle slid into place and a smooth writing style full of suspense that urged me to keep turning those pages – a brilliant debut from an author I hope we hear a lot more from in the future! Innovative books are what we need and so despite the psychological thriller tag that I won’t repeat but gets added to many book titles these days, this was in fact something different, the type of read that simply can’t be compared to anything else!

I’d like to thank the publishers Corvus for sending me a copy and this review is my unbiased thank you to them. Distress Signals will be published on 5 May 2016 and look out that week as I have a special blog post for the blog tour.


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

33 thoughts on “Distress Signals – Catherine Ryan Howard

  1. I am so looking forward to reading this one!! And my husband is also looking forward to me being put off the idea of a cruise! I keep saying I fancy going on one but he says it’s his idea of hell 😂 x


  2. Never a fan of cruises anyway, but I’m really looking forward to this one. I’ve pre-ordered it, as I’ve been following Catherine’s adventures in Disneyland, self-publishing and whatnot for quite a few years now.


  3. Oh, this does sound fascinating, Cleo! And I do like believable, well-drawn characters. And a cruise ship is such a great context for a crime novel, isn’t it? It’s interesting you would mention nationality. I did a course once in international law, and learned that things that happen on cruise ships make for some of the more complex sorts of cases.


  4. I’m always up for a thriller, and this one certainly sounds tempting. I thought I might have read something by this author, but I haven’t. I need to add this one to my list. Thanks for sharing.


  5. Sounds good – definitely we need more innovation! Fascinating stuff about the legal jurisdiction – must make a cruise ship a good place to get rid of those unwanted spouses…


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