Review | The Vanishing Season | Joanna Schaffhausen


Publication Date: December 5th, 2017

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Page Count: 288 pages

Why I read it: I'm generally always in the mood to read a book about serial killers. What can I say?

First Sentence: "It's too dark to go out but too hot to sleep."

Synopsis: Ellery Hathaway knows a thing or two about serial killers, but not through her police training. She's an officer in sleepy Woodbury, MA, where a bicycle theft still makes the newspapers. No one there knows she was once victim number seventeen in the grisly story of serial killer Francis Michael Coben. The only victim who lived. 

When three people disappear from her town in three years, all around her birthday—the day she was kidnapped so long ago—Ellery fears someone knows her secret. Someone very dangerous. Her superiors dismiss her concerns, but Ellery knows the vanishing season is coming and anyone could be next. She contacts the one man she knows will believe her: the FBI agent who saved her from a killer’s closet all those years ago.

Agent Reed Markham made his name and fame on the back of the Coben case, but his fortunes have since turned. His marriage is in shambles, his bosses think he's washed up, and worst of all, he blew a major investigation. When Ellery calls him, he can’t help but wonder: sure, he rescued her, but was she ever truly saved? His greatest triumph is Ellery’s waking nightmare, and now both of them are about to be sucked into the past, back to the case that made them...with a killer who can't let go.

My Thoughts: Ellery Hathaway is a survivor. She was abducted as a kid but lived long enough to be rescued. She tries to move on and starts over as a police officer in an anonymous town, but comes to realize she's not as anonymous as she thinks she is- every year, she gets a mysterious birthday card in the mail and someone else in the town disappears. No one believes her when she says they're connected so she enlists the help of FBI agent Reed Markham, the profiler who found her. Her birthday is coming up again so it's a race against time to stop the killer from finding his next victim.

Right off the bat, I could tell this protagonist was written by a woman. She was strong without being too hard headed and believably flawed. I loved the first chapter. I feel like we got to know just enough about her to see where she came from without spoiling everything. Clues about her past were dropped throughout the story until we get the whole picture. The writing was tight and straightforward. It was short of dialogue but long on internal monologue- I enjoyed the author's style. This was not a raging page turner, but I thought the story was compelling and well crafted. There were some plot points that were a little too convenient, but nothing too distracting. My favorite element was the mentor/mentee relationship between Ellery and Reed- it was so fun to read them profiling the criminal. I did finally figure out what was going on but was kept guessing until the very end! 

Favorite Quote: "... Yet if viewing skin flicks could turn a person into a homicidal maniac, the county would be strung with bodies like paper dolls, lined up from end to end."

Read Alike: The Fourth Monkey, Final Girls, In The Woods

Rating: 4.25/5 I like that this didn't go down the traditional cliche route that it could have. Great debut novel! 

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