Monday 16 May 2016

Book Review: Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard.

Product details
Publisher: Corvus.
Paperback, 352 pages.
Release date: May 5th 2016.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Ages: Adult
Source: Received from publisher for review.

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...

 A stunning crime debut, clever to the core and brimming with plot twists and tension, Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard is a must-read for summer 2016.

After living the ‘struggling artist’ lifestyle for too many years, screenwriter Adam Dunne has finally hit the big time. Hollywood beckons, and so too does a happy-ever-after with his long-term love, Sarah, who has been there for him through thick and thin. First though, Sarah must leave for a work trip to Barcelona. It’s a short trip, only a few days, and so despite being mildly irritated by his girlfriend’s lack of communication while she’s away, Adam doesn’t think too much of it. But then Sarah doesn’t return from her trip. And now her phone has been turned off.  Frantic with worry, Sarah’s parents, along with Adam contact the police for help – and that’s where things get really interesting. It soon becomes clear that Sarah has been living something of a double life. The police are convinced that Sarah has left Adam to set up a new life with a new love. But Adam is not so sure. And when Sarah’s passport is sent to him along with a mysterious note, he’s determined to find out the truth.

If you like your crime fiction sun-dappled and multi-layered, then this one is for you. Adam’s investigation into Sarah’s disappearance takes him aboard the Celebrate, the cruise ship where Sarah was last seen with her new man. It’s a double-whammy for Adam; not only does he have to deal with the fact that his girlfriend has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth, he also has to face the realisation that she’d been indulging in affair on board a fancy Mediterranean cruise.  Heartbroken and alone, Adam wants answers.

On board the Celebrate the plot thickens. Far from being a place of ultimate rest and relaxation, the Celebrate has a sinister history, one which turns a blind eye to mysterious deaths, and where disappearances are routinely swept under the carpet.  One such disappearance, that of a woman one year previously, bears striking similarities to Sarah’s, right down to that mysterious note. Is there a killer loose on board the Celebrate? Well, it would seem so.  But, despite the fact that something dark and scary is obviously at play, the authorities are of no help to Adam. It’s a case of ‘what happens at sea’ stays at sea’, and Adam is on his own as he uncovers the answer to a mystery darker than he could ever imagine.

A true page-turner of the ‘just one more chapter’ variety with a plot wound so tight it is guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night, Distress Signals is a truly accomplished novel from a talented (and clever!) debut author.  I can’t wait to read the next book from Catherine Ryan Howard already!

Friendly warning:  Distress Signals makes for a great summer read BUT if you’re going on a cruise and you take this book along with you, I guarantee you will not sleep a wink!

Read Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard if you’re a fan of Julia Crouch, Lucy Clarke and Emily Barr.

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