Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Distress Signals” as Want to Read:
Distress Signals
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Distress Signals

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,622 ratings  ·  316 reviews
A debut thriller that channels Gone Girl, from the newest writer to watch, Catherine Ryan Howard

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.

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 2nd 2017 by Blackstone Publishing (first published May 5th 2016)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Distress Signals, please sign up.
Recent Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Chelsea Humphrey
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: from-publisher
So this first blipped on my radar back when non-US folks had access for this book, and I remember feeling so jealous and thinking “Ba-humbug! I needed this book yesterday you turds!” Thankfully the author is about as awesome as they come and heard my pleas, having a very early copy shipped my way. How did I repay her? By reading it way later than was acceptable, and for that I send my sincerest apologies. While I may be late to the party, I’m definitely on the bandwagon of feeling this book was ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it
2.5* The first half of Distress Signals had all the elements of suspense, mystery, and was on its way to a four star review. However, with two sub plots the novel eventually became overly top-heavy, the ending anti-climatic and rushed. Many other readers have rated Distress Signals much higher and enjoyed it.

** Thank you to Blackstone Publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. **
Liz Barnsley
Distress Signals is the perfect storm (yes I really did that) when it comes to psychological thrillers, of which I read an awful lot (sometimes a truly AWFUL lot) this genre being the one exploding everywhere for quite some time now – so to bring to that something that is entirely intelligent, brilliantly plotted throughout and engaging to the point of genius is quite a feat. Hmm.

So with Distress Signals (and trust me you couldn’t pay me a million pounds to get on a cruise ship right now) we hav
Linda Strong
What a terrific story! DISTRESS SIGNALS is a compelling murder mystery wrapped up in the cruise industry. After all, if you want to kill someone, what better place? Do the deed and throw the body overboard in the dark of night. By the time the passenger is reported missing, the ship is many miles away.

There are different stories being told that somehow manage to dovetail together seamlessly. One is Adam ... his girlfriend disappeared on a cruise ship. The other is a mother, a crew member of the
Book of Secrets
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As I was listening to Catherine Ryan Howard’s nerve-racking debut thriller, I kept wondering if the book was sold in cruise ship gift shops. If so — eek! Nothing like adding some paranoia to your vacation! Seriously though, DISTRESS SIGNALS was an amazing read. There are many layers to this complex mystery, and the characters really stand out.

When Adam Dunne’s girlfriend Sarah doesn’t return from a business trip, he manages to track her last whereabouts to a Mediterranean cruise ship called the
DISTRESS SIGNALS is the brilliant debut thriller from Catherine Ryan Howard, a Cork-born writer. This is a murder/mystery story taking place on a cruise ship. I really enjoyed this novel and was fully immersed in the story. Keep this author on the radar!

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 w
Kate~Bibliophile Book Club
I started Distress Signals and within the first 13 pages I was grabbed hook, line and sinker (see what I did there!).This book was just brilliant! Once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop!!! I loved everything about it to be honest. The writing style makes the book easy to read, and the story flows well.Distress Signals is about Adam and Sarah, who are living happily together, with Sarah working while Adam is working on his script for his agent. Sarah is to go to Barcelona for a conference ...more
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
All of my reviews can be found on

This opened with my favorite type of prologue, just enough to get you curious about what lead to a dramatic event, but leaves enough to the imagination that you’re still utterly clueless.

Adam and Sarah have been together ten years, and things are going well for them. Or are they really? Adam has finally sold his script to a Hollywood production company and they finally have more breathing room financially. Then Sarah heads Barcelona for a wor
Rachel Hall
3.5 stars

Marketed with a tag line claiming to be "An Incredibly Gripping Psychological Thriller with a Twist You Won't See Coming", this debut thriller from Irish author Catherine Ryan Howard certainly lives up to the billing by virtue of it largely hanging on a little known element of maritime law. Opening with an intriguing prologue Distress Signals then segues into a was she taken or did she disappear thriller.. with thirty-year-old Adam Dunne always firmly one step behind the tail of his gir
Margaret Madden
Adam Dunne has turned a corner. After years of being a struggling writer, his script has piqued interest and it looks like his life is about to become everything he has dreamed of. He can't wait for his girlfriend, Sarah, to return from a business trip to Barcelona so the celebrations can begin in earnest. There is just one problem. He can't contact her. When she fails to arrive back on her planned flight, Adam realizes something is terribly wrong. Digging deeper, he discovers that she was not e ...more
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Adam and Sarah have been together for over 10 years. Adam's ambition is to be a writer and whilst he has been pursuing this dream Sarah has been the breadwinner. It’s been a struggle but finally life is looking better. Adam has a film studio interested in his script but it needs some editing. Sarah tells him that she has to go to Barcelona for a work conference for a few days, instead of going with her Adam stays home to work. He sees her off at the airport, goes home and waits for Sarah to
There are two mystery/thriller elements running concurrently throughout this novel. A lot of the story takes place on the cruise ship "Celebrate". The first mystery involves a rather self centred writer Adam Dunne and his search for his missing girl friend Sarah who was last seen aboard the Celebrate.

The secondary mystery involves a mother and son and their dysfunctional relationship which is also resolved aboard the cruise ship.

The story is revealed through the three separate points of view, Ad
Trish at Between My Lines
This review was originally posted on [Between My Lines]

Green Giants is my feature where I share some of my favourite books by Irish Authors.   I’m passionate about Irish Authors, as they supply us with an entertaining and exciting mix of books, so hopefully you will find something new to try.  Today I’m featuring Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard which intrigued and confounded me .

Green Giants Logo


Distress Signals kicks off with a girl who fails to return from a work trip and then sidelines us with a n
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


This Five Star Read was planted by the seed of the link I posted above. From an article of November,11, 2011 printed in The Guardian an article called "Lost at Sea". The article is a true story in the above link. The author has written a fascinating book of fiction which she uses her creative license in Distress Signals. Exceptions are if you are a United States citizen the FBI will investigate if you are pushed ov
Joanne Robertson
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was so glad that I didn't go on a cruise for my summer holidays this year after reading Distress Signals! Lounging by a hotel pool seemed a much better idea especially after watching a few programmes recently about cruise liners-i really had absolutely no idea how big they really were! It was also a shock to find out just how much goes on behind the scenes of a big and successful cruise ship. And here Catherine Ryan Howard has created a complex mystery based around what has become a very popul ...more
Sam (Clues and Reviews)
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For all my reviews, check out Clues and Reviews

Adam Dunne is worried sick when his girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a business trip in Barcelona. Days later, when her passport arrives at their home with a note stating “I’m Sorry- S”, Adam realizes that something is seriously wrong and vows to do whatever it takes to find her. As Adam investigates, he connects Sarah to a cruise ship and to another woman, Estelle, who went missing a year prior. Adam decides
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, crime
An excellent mystery/suspense/ thriller! I was finding it hard to put the book down!
Great audiobook with superb theatrical performance . . . Slow-burn suspense . . . Interesting, complex characters . . . Intriguing settings and scenarios, ponder-worthy plot points.

So why only three stars????

Expletives . . . Expletives . . . Expletives!

Just as too much salt spoils the broth, crass language spoils one's salt.

THREE *** Great Slow-Burning Suspense Thriller - Minus the Overindulgence of Salty Language *** STARS
It's a psychological mystery thriller but it's also a look at the nature of people who kill: pathological or situational? Do they become that way through nature or nurture? In addition, it's a lesson on letting go of your Peter Pan syndrome and growing the hell up.

So there are two storylines that are going to cross.
One is about Adam the clingy loser who landed a screenwriting deal (but he's dragging his feet on edits because he has a problem with responsibility) but lost his girlfriend. As in, s
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic debut psychological thriller from Catherine Ryan Howard. You are thrown straight into the midst of things with this one, after reading the first sentence – “I jump before I decide that I’m going to.” – my brain went into overdrive:

– Why did he jump? – Where did he jump? – Who’s after him? – Did he kill her? – Is he trying to escape? – If so, from who?

I think you get the gist of it.

I was so gripped by the prologue, I tweeted the author: “Only 6% into this book and I love it already, i
Lynsey Summers
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Catherine Ryan Howard has produced a brilliant, clever and gripping psychological thriller in Distress Signals with a high body count, wealth of unreliable characters and clever use of maritime law to muddy the investigative process to such a level I am pretty sure I will never be boarding a cruise ship in my lifetime.

Hooked from the very first page, where our narrator, Adam, is plunged into the dark depths of the sea I found myself needing to continue to read and discover. I loved the way this
The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a business trip in Barcelona, his life begins to fall apart. He must find out the truth, puzzled by the connections he makes, doing things he never thought he could do, and hunting down a predator on their favourite grounds.

A keen follower of Catherine Ryan Howard’s blog, I whipped up the chance to read her debut novel at the price of £1.99—a Kindle deal sadly over. Distress Signals holds a promising concept, with its unusual setting
Annie ~ The Misstery
Read the review here >> So, let’s talk about unputdownable books. Distress Signals was definitely one. This morning I was about to finish it when I unfortunately got to my train stop. I actually considered being late for work in order to continue reading and I’ve spend all day thinking about it, so I obviously rushed to read the last few pages when I left the office.

I haven’t seen many ratings yet in Goodreads and I can’t understand why. This is an excellent thriller, one that I feel I c
Daniel Balici
Actual rating: 4,5

I had this book on my Kindle for a while, but to be honest I went into it not remembering the blurb at all. This was my second cruise themed read following the relatively disappointing The Woman in Cabin 10 and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In the beginning the action was slow-paced and I thought this would be a boring mystery. I'm glad that I was wrong because eventually I grew completely hooked. One thing I truly appreciated about Catherine Ryan Howard's novel is the fact that it
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book starts right off the bat with Adam either jumping or falling from a cruise ship into the middle of the sea. Yeah, I am not putting this book down. There were so many plot twists and so many suspects. This is definitely one you do not want to start right before bedtime.

And the ending, I definitely did not see that coming. It was definitely mind boggling.

The Romain character I could definitely feel sorry for at first, but at the end, he proved that he did not deserve it. Such a sad stor
Fafa's Book Corner

Mini review:

I received this E-ARC via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was excited to read this. I enjoy murder mysteries and this book sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately it did not deliver. When read a murder mystery it's always important to right out an exciting beginning that way readers will read the whole book desperate for answers. Instead of this I found the beginning to be off putting. This is most likely just personal as many people have enjoyed
Laura Rash
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
An intriguing mystery that takes place mostly on a ship. Major twists & turns that I couldn't quite figure out who the "bad guy" was or where & how this was all going to end. A great debut for a thriller!
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very original story. Well written. Adam perseveres in finding out what happened to Sarah.
Melissa Stacy
DNF at 37%

I love this author's blog, but Catherine Ryan Howard's 2016 mystery novel, "Distress Signals," just isn't engaging me. I don't care about any of these characters, I don't care if Sarah is alive or turns up dead, I don't care about this Romi kid who appears almost halfway through the book and murders a schoolyard bully. Maybe Romi grew up and turned into Sarah's would-be or accomplished killer; I don't care enough to keep skimming to find out.

The writing in this book is *very* simplist
Dec 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
This book is good, but it took a long while to all come together. It begins with a scene from the end of the book which was highly confusing. Then you find two different storylines: Adam, who’s searching for his missing girlfriend, Sarah, and Corinne and Romain, a dysfunctional mother and son whose story is partly told in flashbacks. There were no connections between these stories that I found. The point of view switches between Adam, Corinne, and Romain. I really liked the Adam and Sarah plot a ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard 3 stars 1 12 Jul 28, 2017 08:39AM  
Goodreads Ireland: Aug-Oct: Distress Signals 19 50 Nov 23, 2016 09:32PM  
Goodreads Ireland: Spoiler Thread: Distress Signals 7 34 Sep 19, 2016 02:20AM  
  • Lying in Wait
  • What She Never Told Me
  • The Day I Lost You
  • Can Anybody Help Me?
  • The Life You Left
  • The Butterfly Shell
  • March to November
  • A Time for Friends
  • The Lake
  • Somewhere Inside of Happy
  • The Hidden Legacy
  • The Secrets We Share
  • The Long Fall
  • The Plea (Eddie Flynn, #2)
  • Going Back
  • Lie With Me
  • If You Were Me
  • My Husband's Son
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.