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.
As part of the NetGalley community, I often have an opportunity to read books before they are released to the public. Since I’m always open to authors I wouldn’t ordinarily be familiar with, I was excited to read the subject of today’s post, The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen.
At the age of 14, Ellery Hathaway was taken by an infamous serial killer. Close to death, she was rescued by FBI agent Reed Markham. She’s the sole survivor and years later, Ellie is living in Woodbury Massachusetts as a police officer. She once again must turn to Agent Reed for help her because people are suddenly vanishing in her small town. Over the last three years, three people have disappeared each year around Ellery’s birthday and coincidently (or not?) it is on the same day she was kidnapped all those years ago. Ellie is trying to figure out if it’s conceivable that this current situation could be tied to the serial killer of her past.
The Vanishing Season is a great thriller that really has readers hooked right from from the first page. The story has just enough suspense with a few scattered clues to keep readers guessing while keeping the “gore” at bay. (despite a killer with a weird fixation). I don’t write spoilers as everyone knows, but suffice it to say that I was very surprised and I’m pretty impressed that this was a debut novel by Joanna Schaffhausen! I am looking forward to read future reads by this author!
JOANNA SCHAFFHAUSEN is a scientific editor who spends her days immersed in research on potential new therapies for cancer, addiction, and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Previously, she worked as an editorial producer for ABC News, where she advised and wrote for programs such as World News Tonight, Good Morning America and 20/20.
She holds a doctorate in psychology, which reflects her long-standing interest in the brain—how it develops and the many ways it can go wrong. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and daughter. The Vanishing Season is her first novel.
Thank you to Netgalley and Minotaur Books for providing a digital copy of The Vanishing Season by J for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.