Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere. All views my own. Mostly.
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 have Adam whose girlfriend has disappeared into thin air. Unable to convince anyone that something awful has happened and with no hope of official investigation, he takes it upon himself to find out the truth…risking an emerging career and almost everything else to do so.
With a sharp eye towards character and plotting, Catherine Ryan Howard takes you around the houses, overseas and back again, weaving a twisty tale of relationships gone wrong, secrets hidden and opportunities lost. Beautifully constructed, a web of intrigue with an atmospheric and often downright creepy tone, several strands come together to form a really addictive whole. What I particularly liked about it and what made it stand out for me was the completely cohesive plot – the little nuances, the clever distractions, the colliding of several different events, so that you keep turning those pages to find out the outcome, which may end up surprising you utterly. Its just damned clever and if there was one talent I wish I had, its this one. Sadly no, so you writers will have to keep writing them and I’ll just have to keep finding them.
This reminded me in sense and feeling of Day Four from Sarah Lotz – the cruise ship element of course feeding into that rather random comparison seeing as how Day Four is fantasy and Distress Signals is very very firmly set in reality , but its the atmospheric sense I’m talking about. That thing where you know there is something just around the corner but you can’t QUITE see what it is, that right there is what makes a psychological thriller crackle and pop. Distress Signals crackled and popped more than a whole boxful of Rice Crispies and is a lot more delicious to boot.
(Oh and just on a personal note – I see on Amazon that this book apparently has a “Twist you wont see coming” – PLEASE stop it publicity bods really. Let people enjoy the read, not spend the entirety looking for a twist that may or may not ultimately satisfy. Distress Signals really, the whole THING is a twist. In that its blinking good and the author didn’t need to use any ridiculously unlikely plot devices to achieve that. )
Loved it. Highly Recommended.