Throwback Thursday: Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard


This weekly feature is hosted by Renee,  (Its Book Talk). Throwback Thursday offers a way to share some of our old favorites as well  as sharing books that we are finally getting around to reading that were published over a year ago.

Distress Signals.jpgAbout the Book

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. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground.


Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard is a suspenseful, fast-paced thriller with tension escalating right from the first page. The prologue begins with Adam in the ocean. I was immediately drawn to the narrative and wanted to find out what had happened. Why was he in the waters?

The story is narrated through alternating POVs. There are different story-lines cleverly intertwined with the main narrative with Adam as the main narrator. When readers first meet him, he seems like an ordinary guy at the verge of a career breakthrough. However, his life is soon turns upside down when his girlfriend, Sarah, fails to come home after a business trip.

There is another narrator who I shall not name. Let me just say that their narration was dark, chilling and yet very compelling. I looked forward to this narration with a mixture of anxiety and anticipation. Have you ever felt your heart beat change when you encounter a fictional character? I mean, my heart raced a bit  when I got to the darker narrations and tension went up.

This was a captivating read and I enjoyed all the reveals. I liked the fact that I couldn’t predict any of the twists. I literally had no idea where the story was heading. I liked the details about maritime law although they made me fearful of cruise ships. I enjoyed how the author interspersed details about the crime and the setting with the ongoing mystery of the disappearing women.

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard is the perfect thriller. It has everything that makes me enjoy this genre. I have no doubt that fans of this genre will love this book!

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch

If I Die before I wakeHow Do You Solve Your Own Murder?

Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger.

As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.


Can you imagine what it would be like to hear people talking around/about you while assuming that you can’t hear them? The idea scares and intrigues me at the same time. I guess I would like to know what people say about me when they think I can’t hear them. At the same time, I am terrified because I don’t know what I’d find out. What if the people that I consider friends say mean things about me? I know they probably do but I would rather pretend that they don’t.

Well, this is Alex’s story. He is in a coma and can hear everything around him. His sense of touch and smell are also still active. However, people around him don’t know this. They think that he can’t hear or feel anything. Alex ended up in a coma after a rock climbing accident. While in the hospital, he overhears something that makes him realize that his accident was actually an attempted murder.

The whole story is narrated through Alex’s POV which is interesting. It is crazy just how freely people talked around him including the nurses. At some point, I started wondering why people were having so many conversations around him. Honestly, it seemed like his friends and relatives couldn’t wait to get to his bedside to discuss him and the accident/investigation. I guess it makes sense in a way although it was a bit convenient. Don’t get me wrong though, I did like the concept. Sometimes, it is easier to unburden ourselves to people who aren’t really there. That is why people keep journals, write letters they don’t intend to send and make graveside confession. So the idea was definitely thought-provoking and in a way, realistic.

What I liked most about this book was the suspense. I had no idea who the villain was. It was hard to guess especially since there were no clear motives and the victim had a head injury and couldn’t remember the accident. The book also had a creepy vibe. The idea of Alex being the only one who knew that his senses were alive added a tense, creepy feel to the story. I knew that the killer was probably one of the visitors but couldn’t guess who it was. Needless to say, the reveal was unexpected and I definitely enjoy all the twists and turns.

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch is a slow-burner. The premise is original and interesting. However, all current events take place in the hospital ward and the narrator is in a coma hence slowing down the pace.  Nevertheless, as I have already mentioned, this was a riveting read. I liked Alex’s character and I think the author did a brilliant job crafting his persona. I was able to connect and sympathize with him. There were moments when his situation got so tense that I could feel my heart racing as I turned the pages. Alex really was a compelling narrator.

If you enjoy a good mystery with an interesting premise then this is definitely for you.