Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

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Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A thriller that allows us to believe we can second guess it before the conclusion shows us how wrong we are. Kidnap, a bit of violence and a lot of excitement to knock out our stuffing – loved it!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: May 2016
Publisher: Corvus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1782398387

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Cruise ship The Celebrate is a place for leisure, relaxation and, it seems, disappearance. To Adam's knowledge two women have disappeared from the ship mid-ocean, a fact that interests him as one of them is his partner Sarah. The search for her began with a note and seems to have ended on board but he won't let it go. If Sarah is out there, Adam will find her even though he may not like what he discovers along the way about the woman he loves and thought he knew.

This is former publishing marketer Catherine Ryan Howard's first novel out of her four books to date (the others being two non-fiction books on her travels in the US and one self-help book on publishing), and on this evidence – and the fact I devoured it in one, marvellous sitting - the lady can certainly write.

Through separate viewpoint chapters Catherine begins by showing us a couple in two versions of love. Adam thinks he knows Sarah extremely well but, once she's missing, he's shocked by the disparity between the Sarah he knows and the Sarah he's actually looking for. Don't worry though chaps; this isn't a soppy love story but the basis for a nail-biter of an either-gender thriller.

My only slight quibble is how Catherine seems to have overlooked hotel data protection protocols at one stage. Yet without that oversight there would be no stonker of a novel so it's easily forgiven.

Back at the point of view chapters, while we know about Sarah and Adam, the author slides in a couple of seemingly left field people who don't on first glance seem to fit in with the story. Romain is a man whose life has been blighted by misunderstandings to a tragic degree. Then, on the ship itself, there's cabin maid Corinne. These aren’t loose threads for long though. Gradually all plot lines lead to a gut punching finale that’s as refreshingly left field as these introductions.

Indeed, assume nothing; for instance as the end beckoned, I found myself sobbing for a totally different reason to the one I'd have predicted 20 pages earlier. This is powerful stuff, fuelled partially by the brave trick of showing us a snapshot of the finale in the prologue. Something that up-front could easily have misfired into a giveaway but in Catherine's hands it's actually a clever move rather than a foolhardy one.

I won't get my reviewer's bumper thesaurus out to give you the full plethora of gushing-praise adjectives but only because time doesn't permit. Just believe me, they're all there. From the fun matey bloke banter between Adam and best mate Moresey at the beginning to the moment when… that thing… and the satisfying epilogue, this is the sort of book I'd like to buy you all to read in order to share my enthusiasm. However, since I'm a skinflint, you'll all have to buy your own but it's so, so worth it!

(A big thank you to Corvus for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you enjoy a thriller, there's a load of excellent stuff out there. Two in particular that have come to our notice recently are The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell and Different Class by Joanne Harris. Yes, the Chocolat author!

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Buy Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard at Amazon.com.


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