Published Feb 2 by Blackstone Publishing 

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 answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable.  


Distress Signals is a debut novel that packs a wallop of a punch! What starts off as a seemingly perfect, easy going relationship between Sarah and Adam turns into something else entirely. For ten years, Sarah has stuck by Adam while he pursued his dreams of becoming a writer. Finally, he seems to have struck gold, selling his screenplay to Hollywood. Things are looking up for him financially and he just might be ready to pop the question to Sarah…see things are going well, right?

When Sarah takes a business trip to Barcelona, Adam doesn’t think too much of the fact that he has only received a quick text from her right after she landed. Then silence. After a couple days of not being able to get ahold of her, Adam starts to feel that niggling worry that something’s most definitely off. When her parents get involved, things go from bad to worse, especially after Sarah doesn’t return on her scheduled return day. The note Adam soon receives in the mail from Sarah is pretty cryptic and he sets off on a one man mission to find out what happened to the love of his life. Did she leave him of her own free will or did something much more sinister happen to her? How big is the rabbit hole Adam is venturing down as he sets off to get these questions answered and how much did he really know Sarah? For that matter, how much do we really know Adam? 

Those questions and many more kept swirling around in my head as we follow Adam as he painstakingly recreates Sarah’s movements after she went to Barcelona. And actually, he’s a pretty good detective because little by little he narrows down Sarah’s destination after Barcelona to a cruise ship called the Celebrate.  Questions arise…what was she doing on a cruise ship? Was she alone and if not who was she with? What happened after she boarded the ship is where things get very interesting and all I’m going to say about the plot! While most of the story is told from Adam’s perspective, there are a couple subplots that prove to spin an even bigger web for the story.  One is Corinne’s, a cruise ship staff member who seems very on edge and to be hiding something most of the time. Another is Romain’s, a man who seems just not quite right and who’s story is told in flashbacks to his childhood. How these threads tie together had me questioning and second guessing myself so much my head was spinning. They also had me staying up SO late one night, quickly turning the pages in an effort to figure out how it all tied together and what happened to Sarah.

The way the author let this complex plot unfold…layer by layer…was perfectly executed. In addition, the details she incorporated surrounding cruise ships and maritime laws was fascinating to say the least. I found this story to be page turning and twisty with characters that may not be who we thought they were, a setting that invites suspense and mystery and an ending that proved my detective skills are subpar at best! This is one debut novel I highly recommend, but get ready to stay up late because you won’t want to put this down.

4.5/5 Stars

Many thanks to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for my copy of this book. I’m happy to provide an honest review.

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33 thoughts on “REVIEW:DISTRESS SIGNALS By Catherine Ryan Howard

  1. Your review is really great, but please could you include spoiler warnings up top, for ti has revealed some details in the book ad it seems like a very awesome book to read, I couldn’t help but read your review, very captivating but a bit revealing ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I didn’t include spoiler warnings because in my review I only highlighted what was already in the blurb above from Goodreads but I can see where the blurb might be somewhat revealing. Thanks for stopping by and commenting

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right about blurbs, I feel like that to and often edit the blurbs when I use it for a review. This one was tricky to decide how much of the blurb to use. I appreciate your feedback, it’s gotten me thinking about using blurbs verses not in some cases:)

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly wasn’t sure that I would like it, pretty much any book that’s been compared to Gone Girl I’ve been disappointed in but this one was awesome! I hope you enjoy it if you give it a try


  2. Another thing I liked about this is that my city made an appearance 😛

    Excellent review, I’m so glad you loved this, I think this is one of those I haven’t seen any negative reviews. As we discussed, that ending was on point!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, yeah! This sounds awesome! Great review… do you know if this is still available for request on NetGalley? If so, I’ll have to request it because I need to read this asap. 🙂


  4. Excellent review. I got this book this year but yet to read it because of a few pending ARCs. It does sound like a great read though so I hope to get to it soon. I love the idea of the cruise ship, I wonder if it will be like Woman in Cabin 10. Looking forward to it though.

    Liked by 1 person

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