Contemporary, Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise ship. It seems like such a great way to travel and explore different parts of the world, while still maintaining a level of comfort. After reading this novel, I’m definitely having second thoughts about ever going on a cruise! Here is my review:

Adam Dunne’s career is finally picking up. An aspiring screenplay writer, his girlfriend Sarah has been extremely encouraging, helping him emotionally and financially on his pursuit of his dreams. And it finally pays off: Adam has landed a contract and his latest work is going to be a big hit in Hollywood. On such a high note, Sarah tells Adam that she has to go on a business trip to Barcelona, and that she will be back in 4 days to celebrate his success with him. But she never returns. After waiting for a few days, Adam begins to call and message her in earnest, only to discover that her phone is off and she isn’t answering her emails. What’s more, no one at her workplace knows about this conference; in fact, she told them she was sick. Days later, Adam receives Sarah’s passport in the mail, with a note that reads “I’m sorry – S.” Something isn’t right about all of this … and Adam is determined to find out the truth. As he begins to dig, Adam connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate. It’s the last place Sarah was seen … so that’s exactly where Adam is going to go. What he didn’t count on was that he might have just discovered the perfect hunting ground for a serial killer …

For a debut thriller, this was actually quite good! I really liked the characters and the way the author made the story connect. The introduction to this novel was definitely the strongest part; it reeled me in and kept me wanting more. The story had been well-researched, with lots of facts about maritime laws and cruise ship dangers (which is why i am now seriously reconsidering ever going on a cruise!) The story had good pacing and lots of twists in it to keep it interesting. Towards the end, I felt a little bit confused, and the details could have been flushed out a bit better. I actually really liked the ending of the story; for me, it felt like justice was served. There is another storyline going on throughout this story. At first, it had intrigued me because I liked the particulars of it. I was hoping that it would connect at some point in a grand way and add that extra element of surprise, but instead, it ended pretty unremarkably. Looking back, it probably wasn’t needed or necessary because it didn’t contribute anything to Adam’s story. Overall, this novel was well done and the author did a good job in coming up with this story as well as executing it!

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