Book Review: Distress Signals

distress singals, catherine ryan howard, book review, cruise

Book Review: Distress Signals

by Catherine Ryan Howard

Published: February 2, 2017

Goodreads rating: 3.87 out of 5 (with 1,663 ratings)

Disclaimer: This book is not a good one to read on a cruise or right before you go on a cruise. 

book review

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A psychological thriller compared to Gone Girl.

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Adam Dunne, a resident of Cork, Ireland, thinks all is well with his life.  He just sold his first screenplay and can finally spoil his girlfriend of 10 years, Sarah.  However, all that changes when Sarah does not return home after a business trip to Barcelona.

Things begin to spiral out of control when Sarah’s best friend tells Adam that Sarah actually went to meet a man in Barcelona.  Sarah was planning on leaving him as soon as Adam received his money from his screenplay. Soon, Sarah’s passport shows up on his doorstep and it seems like Sarah has decided to not come home.

Adam cannot let things go and traces Sarah to a cruise ship, the Celebrate.  Next thing he knows, he is on the ship looking to find the killer who may have found the perfect hunting ground.


  • Adam – the main character whose life is turned upside down when his girlfriend goes missing. The story follows him through his obsession and hunt to find Sarah.
  • Sarah – Adam’s girlfriend who has climbed the corporate ladder while taking care of Adam. 
  • Rose – Sarah’s best friend and dating Adam’s best friend.  She tries to help Adam find Sarah when everyone else has given up.
  • Sarah’s parent – they become a thorn in Adam’s side and notice Sarah’s disappearance first.

My thoughts

May contain spoilers.
All opinions are my own. I was offered no compensation for this post.

I listened to this book on audio-book. The voices on this audio-book were great.  I could feel the different emotions of the characters all throughout the book.

The 3 main characters whose point of view we read are deeply developed. Even Sarah is developed through the eyes of Adam, which we realize are flawed.

There are many side characters that just disappear after Adam finds Peter, such as Sarah’s parents and the detective trying to help Adam. We never find out what happens with these characters. Another character appears almost randomly at the end of the book. When Adam meets her in person, I feel as if I should have known more about her.

The end does provide some satisfaction, as we learn what happened to Sarah and Adam’s justice.  However, the 3 stories we are following throughout the book are not neatly tied together.  What happens after Adam is fished out of the ocean?

I give it 3.5 stars for keeping my interest.

Michelle's books

The Last Cruise
it was amazing
Loved this book. Ends somewhat abrupt, but makes sense in the context. The characters are well thought out. The description of the cooking and food was great for me, may not capture everyone's attention though.
The Girl Who Didn't Die
did not like it
Needs a good editor. Couldn't finish.

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