“Distress Signals” by Catherine Ryan Howard – Book Review

Adam Dunne and Sarah O’Connell have been living together for almost a decade now. He is a screenwriter waiting for his ‘big break‘. She works in PR and supports them both. Adam has just received some good news and finally reaps some success from his writing. When Sarah tells Adam she is flying to Barcelona for a conference, he doesn’t think twice. After an initial message when she first arrives, he doesn’t hear from her again. He becomes more and more concerned. Then he receives her passport in the mail.

She doesn’t arrive home on the scheduled day. Her parents are equally concerned about her well-being. They go to the Garda in Cork, but they are unhelpful saying that Sarah is an adult, and adults purposefully go missing everyday…

Sarah’s best friend tells Adam that Sarah has been seeing someone else. Distraught, but still frantic as to Sarah’s welfare, Adam does everything in his power to find her. He discovers that she was last seen on a cruise ship called the Celebrate.  Then Adam is contacted by another man whose wife also disappeared while aboard the Celebrate. Peter Brazier received his wife’s passport in the mail with a note identical to the one Adam received – Peter’s wife Estelle has been missing for a year now.

Adam and Peter join forces to discover what happened to the women they loved. They take a cruise upon the Celebrate

“Corinne’s face wore several more years than she had lived.”

Corinne Dupont is in her early sixties. She is working as a room steward aboard the Celebrate, a cruise ship owned by Blue Wave. She has no physical stamina, but is determined to find a man whose photo she memorizes.

Romain is a little boy of eight when we first meet him. He lives with his mother, father, and two younger brothers. For some reason his Mummy doesn’t seem to love him the same way she loves his two brothers. Romain cannot understand why… One day his Mummy tells him to try to make his baby brother stop crying. He jiggles baby Mikki the way he has seen his mother do – only Romain jiggles too hard causing Mikki to have ‘shaken baby syndrome’. His mother, unloving before, now becomes more cold and distant. She withdraws from Romain and for years he craves her affection.

“Even when he was trying to be good, bad things still happened.”

Romain is bullied at school. When he is twelve years old, his frustrations get the better of him. When his tormentor tries to also bully his younger brother Jean, his ‘darkness’ takes over and he murders the bully.  He is sentenced and sent away to a juvenile detention centre where he lives for five years. When he is released, his family do not want him back. Then, the day he is released, another tragic trauma befalls Romain.

A STRONG debut novel by a talented author!  Written with three parallel narratives, the author causes the reader to wonder how on earth they could be connected in any way. Then, she cleverly ties them together in a way that you didn’t see coming.  What more could you ask of a debut thriller? Recommended for sure!

I received a digital ARC of this novel from Blackstone Publishing via NetGalley. My unbiased review is my way of thanking the publisher and 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.

Follow Catherine Ryan Howard on Twitter.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, NetGalley and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to “Distress Signals” by Catherine Ryan Howard – Book Review

  1. carhicks says:

    I had not heard of this book and it certainly was not on my radar. After reading your wonderful review Lynne, I will have to see if I can get my hands on this one. I love books where you are not sure where the story is going or how it connects and them Wham, it all comes together.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. skyecaitlin says:

    Great review, Lynne!


  3. Sounds interesting and like my kind of book. Definitely going to check this one out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rosie Amber says:

    Bringing three storylines together is a big task, but it does sound like it all worked out well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. She has a heck of an imagination to be able to connect those three story lines. On the surface they seem to be unconnectable! (Is that a word?)

    Bye, Lynne, till next time.



  6. Lovely review I loved this one as well 😀


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