The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen
Martin's Press: 12/5/17
eBook review copy. 288 pages
The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen is a highly
recommended debut mystery/police procedural.
Ellery Hathaway knows a thing or two about serial
killers. On her 14th birthday, Ellery, whose
first name is actually Abigail, became the 17th young woman abducted
by the notorious serial killer Frances Coben. Abigail was the only
survivor and under an intense media spotlight. She decided to go by
her middle name, Ellery, to avoid anyone recognizing her name, she
hides her scars, and she no longer celebrates her birthday.
Now, fourteen years later, Ellery is police officer in a small town,
MA, and she's concerned that there is a serial killer in her small
town. Three people have disappeared in July over the past three years.
Ellery sees a pattern and would like the disappearances to be further
investigated, but her chief thinks otherwise. No one in the community
actually knows Ellery's past history, so her concerns are easily
As the date approaches for the vanishing season when another citizen
will disappear, Ellery calls the one man she knows who may be able to
help her solve the question of who is taking these people, FBI Agent
Reed Markham. Markham solved the case of her abduction and rescued her
from Coben just in time. He may have insight into the three missing
persons cases. He may also be able to help Ellery solve another
question, one closer to home, because it appears that someone knows her
true identity and they have been sending her a birthday card since she
moved to Woodbury.
The Vanishing Season is a well written mystery/procedural.
Schffhausen builds up the suspense and suspense while slowly revealing
new clues and suspects. The plot is complex and there are a full cast of
characters. Ellery's dog, Speed Bump, or Bump for short, is a great
scene stealing. Ellery's back story is told in chilling detail and it
is clear how wounded she still is
from her experiences, as well as why the current cases of missing
persons concerns her.
The main characters are all well developed, although readers will
question the wisdom of some of their decisions. Ellery doesn't share any
of her history with her current colleagues and so they have little
reason to take her concerns seriously, which, while you can see her
reasoning, it also seems to be a mistake on her part. I will say that
the perpetrator was easy to spot early on, making the ending feel a bit
contrived, but the conclusion is satisfying. All in all this is a
satisfying debut and an author to watch for in the future.
My review copy was courtesy of St.
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