Thursday 5 May 2016

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard (2016)


Standalone crime/thriller

Published May 5 by Corvus/Atlantic in Ireland and the UK, June 2 in Australia and New Zealand. Details of North American publication later in 2016 coming soon.

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...

Advance praise:

“Pacey, suspenseful and intriguing … [A] top class, page turning read. Catherine Ryan Howard is an astonishing new voice in thriller writing.” — Liz Nugent, author of 2014 IBA Crime Novel of the Year Unravelling Oliver

“An exhilarating debut thriller from a hugely talented author. Distress Signals is fast-paced, twisty and an absolute joy to read.” — Mark Edwards, #1 bestselling author of The Magpies and Follow You Home

Read a preview of the first three chapters here:

My Review 

Distress Signals is an addictive and compelling tale of love, betrayal, loss and hope. The mystery surrounding Sarah's disappearance had me glued for the entire book. The twists and turns in the story meant that once I'd started reading I couldn't put it down until I'd reached the conclusion.
The characters and the situations they find themselves in are so realistic and true to life it scarily reads like a true story.
The reaction of Sarah's parents when they couldn't contact her after a day or two resonated with me as my own parents would react in exactly the same way. Their dealings with the GardaĆ­ when reporting Sarah missing was also how I would imagine it to be in real life. I couldn't help but feel the family's pain and frustration at the lack of information and support available to them.
Also what makes the story so realistic is that not one of the characters is painted black or white, good or evil. Each one is likeable and relatable but they also have flaws and a breaking point that leads them to act in ways they wouldn't necessarily do in ordinary circumstances. Even the supporting characters are given a fleshed out background and you get a real sense of how life has shaped them and influenced the decisions they make. Although I loved both Sarah and Adam I found myself feeling annoyed with them at times because of their actions or in in Adam's case his inaction. At the same time I was I rooting for them and hoping against hope that Adam would find the answers he was searching for and bring home the girl he loves.

Distress Signals certainly doesn't disappoint. A brilliantly crafted mystery/thriller I can recommend to all friends and family. 

It's one book I'll be hounding everyone to read because it's that good.

Buy now from Amazon


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.

Twitter: @cathryanhoward

Instagram: @cathryanhoward


My interview with the author
Where are you from?

I’m from Cork, in Ireland, but I’ve lived in Dublin since 2014 when I decided – for some reason that escapes me now! – to go back to college as a mature student and study for a BA in English Literature.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I’m not sure if I would call it a message as such, but the novel explores the idea that there are, effectively, no police at sea – at least when you’re in international waters. I don’t want to turn anyone off going on a cruise holiday, but I do think most readers will be thinking about cruises in a very different way when they get to the end of the book… (She says mysteriously!)
If you could, which of your characters would you most like to hang out with?

I love Adam, my narrator/main character. He’s a dote, as we’d say here in Ireland. And in my mind he looks a little like Jamie Dornan, so that doesn’t hurt!

What book are you reading now?

I’m very lucky to have a preview of Liz Nugent’s second novel, Lying in Wait, which is out in July. I really liked her debut, Unravelling Oliver. I’m also looking forward to getting stuck into Harlan Coben’s latest and Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Not sure how new the “new” has to be, but Caroline Kepnes, who wrote You and Hidden Bodies is one of my current faves. She writes just the kind of book I love to read. I’m also really looking forward to reading Clare Mackintosh’s new novel, I See You. I Let You Go was a triumph – I’m a sucker for a big twist and Clare, in a master stroke, plonked one right in the middle of hers. She didn’t even wait until the end!
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Michael Connelly. I picked a damaged hardback copy of Void Moon out of a bargain bin fifteen or sixteen years ago and I’ve been utterly addicted to his work ever since. I have my own annual Michael Connelly day: I buy his new books on the day they come out, then make sure I have a clear schedule so I can go home and read them in one sitting. To me, his detective Harry Bosch is a real person, and when I read his books now I feel like I’m checking in with an old friend, seeing what he’s been up to for the last year. I won a special red leather bound, limited edition of his novel Nine Dragons in a competition his website ran, and it’s personally inscribed to me. If my apartment went up in flames, that’s what I’d grab. It’s my most treasured possession.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about becoming a writer? e.g. Do you think creative writing courses are a good way to introduce aspiring writers to the discipline?

I think courses, books, blogs, etc. are all great – but wait until you’ve finished your book before you get stuck into all that. I wasted so much time perfecting my manuscript formatting abilities, for example, before I even had a manuscript to perfect. At the end of the day, it’ll all come down to the book – so just concentrate on writing the best book you possibly can. Worry about everything else afterwards. And the best way to learn how to write a great book is to read, read and read some more.

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