Winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition, Joanna Schaffhausen’s accomplished debut The Vanishing Season will grip readers from the opening page to the stunning conclusion.
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 one who lived.
When three people disappear from her town in three years—all around her birthday—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 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.
About the Author
Joanna Schaffhausen wields a mean scalpel, skills developed in her years studying neuroscience. She has a doctorate in psychology, which reflects her long-standing interest in the brain—how it develops and the many ways it can go wrong. Previously, she worked for ABC News, writing for programs such as World News Tonight, Good Morning America, and 20/20. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and daughter. The Vanishing Season is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
Ellery Hathaway emerged from the steamy bathroom, toweling her hair dry, dressed again and ready to leave, but Sam still lay sprawled in the motel bed with its squeaky mattress and scratchy sheets. Always he wanted to stay just a little bit longer, kiss her just one more time. It was one of the things she hated about him. "It's almost midnight," she said as she laid the damp towel over the back of a cheap motel chair. The room was swimming in shadows, just like always, because she never let him see her all the way naked. It was a practical concern more than a manipulative one, but the more she held back, the more he wanted. She definitely had his attention now.
He rolled to the nightstand to put his watch back on but made no other move to get dressed. "It's July already. Seems like we just had Memorial Day."
She went to the window and looked out at the oppressive summer night. It was black as pitch and filled with trees. The motel gravel went about ten feet back, and then there was nothing but dense woods and the invisible creatures hiding within them. "He'll take another one soon," she said. "Just like last year, and we've done nothing to stop it."
"Christ, Ellie. Not this again." He sat up and tugged on his pants. "I thought you agreed to let this go."
She rested her forehead against the glass, which vibrated in time to the churning of the antiquated air-conditioning unit below it, and she felt the hum penetrate to her veins. "Three people are dead," she said, more to herself than to Sam. Lord knew he'd heard the words from her enough times that she need not repeat them now. The last time they'd had this conversation was more than six months ago, back when he was just the chief and she was a junior patrol officer. He had not listened to her then, but maybe now was different, now that she had something he wanted.
He came half naked to the window, long limbs moving in easy grace. It was one of the things she loved about him. "We have no proof of any murder," he said. "You know that as well as I do. We don't even know these people are dead."
"They're dead." The first one, nineteen-year-old Bea Nesbit, disappeared three years ago somewhere between Woodbury and Boston, where she went to school. Back then, the State Police had gotten involved in the search, and Ellery had been happy to let them. She'd been on the job only seven months at that point and did not know the Nesbit family. Ten days later, Bea was still missing and Ellery had received the first card in her mailbox.
Sam touched her hunched shoulder, pushing it back down with gentle fingers. "People leave their lives all the time and don't look back."
She jerked away from his hand. No one needed to explain to her the urge to disappear, not when she hadn't seen her natural hair color in more than a decade. Lately, she'd been dying it a dark chestnut brown, a no-nonsense shade whose remnants resembled the color of dried blood as it washed down the drain of her white porcelain sink.
Sam's hair was an honest salt-and-pepper black. He was twenty-two years older and had worked his way up through the ranks in Boston before taking the small town position in Woodbury as chief of police, where he'd become accustomed to being the smartest cop in the room. Ellery was the only female officer in the department, not that this was a great accomplishment on a squad of eight people, but it meant that, for all his depth of knowledge, there were certain experiences she had that Sam lacked.
"Bea Nesbit, Mark Roy, and Shannon Blessing are dead," she reminded him, turning around so she could look into his eyes as she said it. "In the next two weeks, unless we do something, another name will be added to that list. We'll have another grieving family and no answers to give them. Is that what you want?"
"What would you have me do? These cases have already been investigated by our department and others. We have no bodies, no evidence, no suggestion that a crime even took place. I'm not ignoring you, Ellie, but I have to have something to go on here besides your gut feeling."
Her cheeks burned hot and she looked away. At least he hadn't actually called it women's intuition. The only evidence she had, besides what little was contained in the official files, was locked at home in her bedroom drawer, in an envelope where she didn't have to see the birthday cards unless she specifically went looking for them. Not that there was much to see. She could picture the baffled expression on Sam's face if she brought them in and tried to explain what they meant.
This isn't evidence of anything but the fact that you're another year older. Congratulations, Officer Hathaway. You're aging just like the rest of us.
Maybe if she told him about her other birthday, the one from years ago, then he would understand. He would have to act. Or maybe he would just look at her with pity and horror. Either way, once she told him, she could never take it back.
"You could reinvestigate the cases," she said to Sam, trying to keep her voice steady. "Take a fresh look. If we can figure out what the relationship is between the victims, we might be able to stop him from taking another one."
"You're the only one who thinks there is a relationship."
"So then give me the cases." She raised her chin, challenging him to deny her. They had one detective on the force, and she sure as hell wasn't it.
Frustration flashed in Sam's eyes, and then, worse, sympathy. He shook his head almost imperceptibly. "You know I can't do that."
"Fine. Right. Just don't blame me when you've got another one missing." She crossed the room to put on her boots.
"And what will you do if that doesn't happen? What will you obsess about then?"
She glanced up. "You're saying I need this?"
He eyed her. "Maybe part of you. Face it, Ellery. You get off on drama."
"Not me." She snapped her laces together and stood up. "You're the one who always wants to make things complicated."
He grabbed her arm when she tried to pass him. "Stay," he said softly, sliding his fingers down past the scars to her narrow wrist. "We can talk about it."
She turned her arm so their fingers touched, but did not meet his gaze. "Go home, Sam. Julia will be wondering where you are. I'll see you in the morning, okay?"
Mute, he released her and she pushed out into the night heat. Tree creatures chattered at her from tall pines; white gravel crunched under her feet as she made her way to her truck. The New England humidity melted her T-shirt against her sticky skin. Ellery paused, her hand on the door, and glanced around her into the thin edge of the forest. She had chosen this quiet town because it was so removed from the big cities filled with thousands of people. A few of the guys at the station would sit around during the slow times, which to be fair was most of the time, and talk about what they would do if a major crime ever hit sleepy little Woodbury. A bank robbery, maybe, as if anyone would come to their tiny downtown, with its pharmacy, post office, and handful of shops, thinking he could hit the local bank for a million bucks. The boys in blue were sure they would stop the bad guys red-handed before they ever reached the town limits. Sam, who knew better, smirked at their self-aggrandizing, sometimes tried to catch her eye across the room to share a wink at the guy's expense, but Ellery always looked away and thought, Be careful what you wish for.
She climbed into her truck and switched her cell phone back on, its screen casting an eerie glow over the otherwise dark interior. The missed calls and texts showed she had been unusually popular over the past hour. A missed call from her mother, no message. A text from Brady that made her smile: 6 new kittens today. Am covered in miniature but terribly fierce claw marks. Send help! But her smile vanished when she saw the other missed call, this time with a voice message. "They're fighting again, please come quick," came the young, frightened whisper on the other end.
Ellery tossed the phone down and yanked the truck into gear, gravel spitting from beneath the tires as she tore out of the motel parking lot. She did not even stop to call it in because the time stamp on the call said that she was already twenty-three minutes late. Thanks to the late hour, there was zero traffic and she made it across town in record time. The neighborhood was quiet as she pulled off the main road, the houses dark and set in some distance from the street. The average family in Woodbury was poor in cash but rich in land. The result was large, overgrown yards separating small, run-down houses that had been built en masse after World War II and had mostly sat untouched since, with their identical striped front awnings faded and warped by the passing of time. As she slowed near her destination, Ellery's headlights caught the peeling white paint on the picket fence and an overturned child's bicycle lying in the front yard.
Yellow light spilled out from the open windows but Ellery saw no one moving around inside. She killed the engine, and in the silence, her heart beat faster as she imagined the confrontation to come. Domestic disputes were the most unpredictable part of her otherwise routine work. As much as she was fixed on her campaign to Sam about their missing persons problem, Woodbury's last official murder had been in 1983, when Tom Pickney shot his brother Terrance after Tom found out Terrance had been carrying on with his wife.
Despite the humid summer night, Ellery retrieved her Woodbury PD jacket from the floor of the passenger seat and removed her police-issue revolver from the locked glove compartment before approaching the house. She knocked sharply on the screen door, and the heavy inside door swung open almost at once, like someone had been waiting for her. Darryl Franklin filled the entire doorway with his massive frame, blocking out the light and anyone who might have been standing behind him. "Whad'you want?" He sneered down to where she stood on the stoop.
"We got a call about a disturbance at your residence, Mr. Franklin."
"What? Who called you?" He peered up and down at his neighbors, but the street was quiet and dark. "I don't see nobody out."
"Never mind who called. I want to see Rosalie and Anna."
He stank like sweat and alcohol, his face puffy and his dark eyes unfocused. He considered her request for a moment, and then broke into a toothy but malevolent grin. "There isn't no disturbance happening here," he said, and he paused to take a sip from the can of Bud he held in his beefy hand. "Go home, Ellie. It's late for a girl like you to be runnin' around all by her lonesome. Somethin' could happen to you."
Ellery squared her shoulders, her hand resting lightly on her holster. "It's an official call, Mr. Franklin. You know how this works. I can't leave until I see Rosalie and Anna."
"It's my house. I know the law. I don't have to let you into my house unless you got a warrant." He swayed a little as he said it, sloshing beer onto the pavement between them.
"Then we can all go down to the station and visit with the chief. He'll be real cranky if we have to wake him up at this hour." The truth be told, Sam probably was slinking in the back door of his house right about now, but Ellery forced that thought out of her mind.
Franklin muttered a string of curse words at her, but he stood aside just enough to allow a narrow opening for her to pass through into the house. She brushed the sweat-stained cotton covering his rotund stomach as she stepped over the threshold and into the family home. The place held a heavy, forceful quiet that Ellie recognized as the aftermath of sudden violence. She took a few more steps over the threadbare carpet. The living room TV was on but muted. The scent of cigarettes and leftover dinner, something involving grease and peppers and onions, hung in the close, thick air. Ellie let her eyes travel over the overstuffed brown microfiber sofa, its cushions lopsided from years of use, to the burned-out hole in the arm of the old La-Z-Boy recliner and the fist-size dent in the wall behind it. The dent had been there the last time Ellie showed up in the middle of the night like this.
"Rosalie? Anna? Are you in here? It's Ellie Hathaway." Her skin tingled because she still had no proof of life and now Franklin stood between her and the door. She made sure to keep her body angled so she could see him in her peripheral vision, where he was drinking his beer and feigning disinterest.
After several tense moments, Rosalie Franklin and ten-year-old Anna shuffled around the corner, Rosa's arms around her daughter's shoulders and her eyes downcast. Even from fifteen feet away, Ellie could see the welt swelling on Rosalie's left cheek. "Officer Hathaway, you didn't need to come out here so late."
"Are you okay?" Ellery asked her, closing the gap between them so that she could get a better look at the other woman's injuries.
"I'm fine." Rosalie turned her face away from Ellery, hiding behind her dark curtain of hair. "You should go."
Franklin pushed open the screen door so hard that it slapped against the outside railing, making the women jump. "Yeah, you should go now. They're fine, as you can see."
"In a minute," Ellery said, more to Rosa and Anna than to Darryl. "Why don't we step outside? You, me, and Anna."
She herded them toward the door, knowing that Rosalie would allow herself to be pushed along despite her fear because this was how she lived every day, following orders that went against her own self-interest. Ellery felt a twinge of regret at capitalizing on Rosalie's indoctrination, but there was no way she was going to convince her to press charges with Franklin just six feet away, pawing at the floor like a bull in the pasture.
When they reached the doorway, Franklin blocked them with one solid arm. "S'pose I don't feel like letting you by," he said, his voice hard.
"Then I radio downtown and explain how you're holding an officer of the law hostage, and you go to jail for a really long time."
They all stood frozen while Franklin digested this information. Finally, he dropped his arm to let them pass. Ellery exhaled in relief as they hit the night air. Rosalie and Anna were both barefoot, Anna dressed in some sort of Disney princess-themed nightgown that barely covered her bottom, and Ellery ushered them both over the half-dead grass to the edge of the lawn. Franklin remained at the front door, saying nothing but casting a long shadow. "What happened tonight, Rosa?" Ellie asked her in a low voice.
"Nothing," Rosalie insisted, hugging herself and glancing over her shoulder. "I'm okay."
"He hit her because he wanted tacos for dinner tonight but Mama didn't have the time to go shopping today."
"It's true." The girl folded her thin arms and glared at her mother.
"It's not true. He was just upset because his boss reduced his hours this week," Rosalie said in an urgent whisper.
"Last time it was because his back was acting up," Ellery replied. "What excuse is he going to give you next time?"
"You don't understand," Rosalie murmured, her shoulders slumping, her gaze trained on the ground. Ellie looked away, up toward the streetlamp that hosted a frenzy of swarming gnats, because she knew she could raise her sleeves, march Rosa into the white light, and show her the scars. I lived, she could say, and you can too. Maybe then Rosa would listen to her and get that order of protection. She could kick Darryl out, get a better job, go back to school, make a peaceful home for herself and Anna, and cook whatever the hell she wanted for dinner every damn night for the rest of her life.
Ellie swallowed hard as she imagined it because she knew she wasn't going to do it. She wasn't going to blow up her whole fragile existence just for a pile of maybes. Ellery drew in a long breath and fixed Rosalie with a hard stare. "You don't have to take this from him. You don't. Say the word, and I can take you away from here, you and Anna, right now, to someplace safe. Or you can swear out a complaint against him and I'll have him arrested on the spot."
"You?" Rosa looked her up and down in skeptical fashion.
"Me," Ellery said, with more certainty than she felt. She risked a look at the door, where Franklin was watching them with a sullen expression, and she wondered if he kept a gun in the house. Ellery was five seven and athletically built, but Franklin had nearly a foot on her and outweighed her by more than a hundred pounds.
Excerpted from "The Vanishing Season"
Copyright © 2017 Joanna Schaffhausen.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It’s that time of the year again, Ellery’s birthday is right around the corner. For Ellery, unfortunately, she suspects that again, this birthday will not be a time for celebration. It always began with her mail. Opening the envelope, Ellery knew the minute her eyes landed on the colorful front what she was holding. The greeting inside was just the beginning, its deception was just a part of the mystery that Ellery was a part of. Would this year be any different? Ellery is a female officer who has moved into a small town where she is the only female on the payroll. Ellery believes that some murders have been committed yet there haven’t been any bodies recovered. She has been connecting the “dots” in a few cases and she believes that she’s uncovered a pattern. Now, Ellery is predicting the next murder. However, no one is listening to her. The real story is, Ellery is not telling her colleagues everything she knows about these cases and the clock is ticking. What are you going to do Ellery? You can’t delay your birthday. With twists and turns, I enjoyed this griping mystery as Ellery works to uncover the pieces and get everyone on board. I enjoyed the small town of Woodbury, the main characters with their flaws and the character’s history. This was an entertaining, exciting book and Joanna Schaffhausen is an author that I look forward to reading in the future. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
*3.5 stars rounded up. Ellery Hathaway is a police officer in the small Massachusetts town of Woodbury. She thinks she spots a pattern in three local disappearances in three years but no one, including her boss, the chief of police, agrees with her. But Ellery is harboring her own deep, dark secret--when she was fourteen, she was rescued from the clutches of a serial killer by Reed Markham of the FBI--and feels she has more insights into the workings of such killers. As the anniversary of these disappearances rolls around again and convinced there will be another victim, Ellery seeks out the help of Reed Markham, who happens to be on leave for a monumental failure of his own. I usually don't care for thrillers where the detectives are so personally involved in the case but this one works pretty well. I was a bit astonished that Ellery thought she could keep her personal history a secret in this day of the internet searches. She and Reed have an interesting relationship. Did he really save her or was the damage just too deep? I'll look forward to reading more of their cases in future as I received all 3 books, including the latest in the series, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks for the opportunity!
The Vanishing Season is an impressive debut from Joanna Schaffhausen, and an equally impressive series start. All too often lately, I've been sucked in by a great prologue only to be let down by what follows, but that was not a problem at all with this book. The mystery is suspenseful and kept me on my toes, the procedural part of the story was interesting and thought-provoking, and the characters were terrific - even the ones I didn't like. Our main characters, Ellery and Reed are both likable and even though I've never been in either's shoes, they were still relatable. Ellery makes for a great protagonist. She's stubborn, determined, and will stop at nothing to solve this case even when no one else thinks there is a case. Does she always make the right decisions? Not even close, and she's also a bit broken by her past and keeping secrets that could come back to bite her. She's got plenty of reason to keep secrets, and who wouldn't messed up by what she's been through. She lived through a nightmare and is still pushing through the other side. Reed is equally likable and also a little broken. His story tugs at the heartstrings as he deals with things in his personal life while also trying to help Ellery. I really liked Reeds chapters and the way his mind worked as they raced to find a killer before someone else could be taken. The mystery is laid out very well, and the author does give us a pretty good red herring or two as the story progresses. I did guess the killer's identity, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment of the story, and I will say that the author had me second-guessing myself more than once. All in all, this is a great start to the series, and I can't wait to see more of these characters.
A page turning psychological treat. I love that both the lead characters are flawed. There first meeting is under terrible conditions when their lives were good. Now they meet again under terrible conditions again, but both their lives are falling apart. Some people may not like Ellery’s behavior but I believe it adds huge credibility to the premise of the story. Ellery is a living victim trying to hold her life together the best way she knows how. Things don’t add up and she wants answers. Reed is an FBI profiler having a rough time in his life. The call for help from Ellery spurs him out of his lethargy as he dives into this new case with her. The tension throughout the book is high as more clues show up and the officials have no clue who is doing the killing. Even when you think you know who it is you may be wrong.
OMG, what a fantastic book this is. There are so many twists and turns. I can’t wait for her next book to be released because I have just found a new favorite author! Thanks for writing such great great book!
What a fantastic find this series was!! I loved this first book - Ellery is a dark, damaged protagonist but striding through the darkness with her is surprisingly enlightening... The character development here was first-rate. As is typical in serial killer/cop thrillers, everyone is lying through their teeth and hiding something (if not many somethings). This layering of secrets is altogether common in the genre - what is not is the delicate way that Schaffhausen teases out truths as the novel progresses. She doesn't throw in red herrings or extraneous details; every detail is chosen carefully and revealed at just the right moment to heighten the tension and keep the reader engaged. This was a rough read at times, but Ellery's survival (past, present, and future) makes for a fascinating read and I definitely cannot wait to dive into book two! Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my obligation-free review copy.
Ellery Hathaway isn’t your usual detective with a dark past. Well, she is, but not what you might think. When Ellery was 14 years old, she survived being captured (and tortured) by a serial killer. And although that killer was caught, prosecuted, and is serving the rest of his life behind bars, Ellery’s made connections between three murders in the last three years in her small town---can she figure out who’s behind this before it becomes four deaths in four years? This was a new author for me, but I found the storytelling to be on point and really enjoyed the suspense. I wasn’t crazy about “who” the killer turned out to be (I’m not going to say more on that because I don’t want to give anything away), but it was still a good book and I’ll watch for more from her in the future. Special Note: Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Excellent mystery/thriller. Well written and will hold your interest right up to the end. You will almost guess who the killer is but not quite and you'll want to keep reading to the end to find out! There could have been more interaction of Reed and Ellie with their family members but I suppose the lack of connection was explained adequately. It would be interesting if Ellie and Reed were to team up in the future or if Ellie were to be invited to join the BAU of FBI with Reed. No book report from me, the cover gives adequate description. I received this book as a complimentary copy for an unbiased review.The opinions expressed are my own. Thanks to the author,publisher,and NetGalley for the ARC.
Thank you Netgalley and St. Martins Press for an Advanced Reader Copy. I voluntarily read this book and the review and comments below are my honest opinion. Ellery, a former victim and Reed the FBI agent that saved her are reunited in this The Vanishing Season. No one knows of Ellery’s past and the killer that abducted her is on death row. But when the killings begin again, Ellery is sure that some knows who she is and is a copy cat killer. A suspenseful, disturbing book with an intense ending.
WOW! I've discovered a new series!! I really like Ellery. She is a police officer, damaged by her past and working on a serial killer case. The big reveal was nicely done and I enjoyed not having Ellery fall for a hot cop and fall endlessly in forever love in one day like so many novels with a female officer. I will read the rest in this series. Thank you to #NetGalley, St. Martin's Press/Minotaur and Joanna Schaffhausen for this ARC!
This novel was thrilling and enthralling! I could not put it down. The characters are believable and relatable. The minutia of small town law enforcement is enhanced by the enormity of the crimes being committed, more so because no one is convinced they are really occurring. I like the way the author portrays a victim and the aftermath of the horror she survived in its banality since it is probably as real as it would get. I enjoyed the different characters and the plot was interesting and well developed. The twist ending was excellent!
This book is a mystery in its best form. It is not a fast paced thriller type mystery, but a genuine, thought provoking mystery. I enjoyed the style immediately, as it is the type of mystery I was raised on and loved. I was able to come to my own conclusions long before I should have, been wrong all of those times, and this is what makes me love a good mystery. I want to run after any clue I see, and I love it when I am wrong because it means the writer did a great job. This writer did a great job. I see that this is a series and that is exciting news! The protagonist is awesome, and I will be happy to read more of her story. I liked the pacing of the story, the honesty of the characters, and the story itself. Good writing, great story....I hope there are many more to come in the series. This copy was provided to me by NetGalley.com and the publisher. I thank them both.
There are high ratings for this mystery-thriller by author Joanna Schaffhausen, and some of the book’s elements deserve those high marks. Unfortunately, there are other pieces that don’t quite fit and thus feel forced. I am usually not a fan of protagonists in this genre who have a mental disability or issue, as the technique is overused. In “The Vanishing Season,” however, giving both Ellery and Reed separate events in their past allowed the author to develop each character while the ghosts of their past also defined their personalities and motives as the story unfolded. The author’s deft handling of their past problems kept the plot moving. Other plot elements were not as smooth. I am not usually one who can guess who the killer is, but the clue dropped by the author was so ham-handed that a blind detective couldn’t have missed it. In the first seven chapters there are two information dumps that came out of nowhere, lasting for pages before the story got back on track. And while I was happy everything that happened during the climax was explained, the explanation was jarring. All of the above interrupted the flow and caused me to question the “reality” of the story. There were also parts of the story that I felt were impressive. The relationship between Ellery and Reed progressed naturally and jumping inside both of their minds gives readers valuable insights. Ellery’s memories are powerful and when she relives the trauma of her past it is impossible not to feel the horror. These are definite five-star elements. The negative aspects were never enough for me to consider discontinuing reading the book, although I felt the author missed chances to make this book much better. Three-and-a-half stars. My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a complimentary electronic copy of this book.
The Vanishing Season is Joanna Schaffhausen’s debut novel, released in 2017…and, boy oh boy, is it a good one. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it gave me so much more. Three people have gone missing and Ellery Hathaway knows they are dead and another will be taken very soon. Sam dismisses her warnings, but she won’t stop there. Sam is not only her boss, the chief of police, but also her lover, her married lover. I sure don’t approve of that, but as I read on, I could see how it happened. She uses sex as a weapon. That will have it’s own repercussions. Woodbury, Massachusetts is a small town, a blink and you will miss it, with only eight police officers. I love to read of small towns, the gossip mill, and secrets that won’t stay secret. Ellery has a big one, but… Ellery calls in the big guns, Reed Markham, an FBI profiler that had saved her from the serial killer that had taken her fourteen years ago, leaving her scarred and broken. He too has his own story. His marriage is on the rocks, but he had made a promise to her, so when she called, he came. I love her basset hound, Speed Bump. LOL Critters always add some grins for me, and with a subject like serial killers, I need some chuckles. The dog leapt from the vehicle with all the grace of a hippo performing a belly flop. I have plenty of suspects, but two in particular have my attention. Even if I’m wrong, I don’t like them. LOL I do like to try and figure it out for myself as we follow clues, question witnesses, and try look for what others have missed. There is no romance, though I know there are more books coming, so I wonder. I mean, just think about it, her body is scarred and so is her mind. She doesn’t want anyone in her house. Doesn’t want anyone touching her. And doesn’t want to share her secret. After what she’s been through, I can see why she protects herself, so who could possible get through the walls she has built up but the one person she trusts? I am at 38% and my tension level is high, the pace is picking up, making me feel like the end is near, nut, there’s so much of the story left. I can only imagine what Joanna Schaffhausen has in store for her characters. I am lovin’ it. I am filled with horror at the terrible things one person can do another, as the bits and pieces of Ellery’s captivity leaks out, each detail worse than the last. Well…I didn’t see him coming. It takes a lot for an author to fool me so completely, especially near the end, but she had me eying the wrong guy until a page or two before he attacked. He was well camouflaged, but I will be on my toes with the next case, expanding my suspect list and reading between the lines. Man oh man, I am so glad I took a chance on Joanna Schaffhausen. I had never heard of her. She kept me riveted from beginning to end and I can hardly wait for Book II, No Mercy. BRING IT ON! I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen.
The plot was satisfyingly creepy. Abigail Ellery Hathaway was the only surviving victim of serial killer Francis Coben, who liked to cut off the hands of his victims and keep them as trophies (among other despicable acts). It is fourteen years later and Ellery (Ellie), as she calls herself now, is a police officer in small town Woodbury, Massachusetts, far from life-altering events in her hometown of Chicago years ago. For the past three years, in July, around her birthday, someone in town disappears. She is convinced that the disappearances are linked, but the police chief and other officers do not believe her, especially as there is no obvious connection between the missing except that they were all residents of Woodbury. However, what no one else knows is that every year she receives an unsigned birthday card postmarked from Woodbury. As she was abducted on her birthday, it is not a day she celebrates, and no one in town should know her birthday and no one in town knows her past (as far as she knows). Convinced that a fourth person will soon go missing, Ellery contacts Reed Markham, the FBI profiler who found her, in the hopes that he can lend his expertise and help her establish a connection so that the disappearances will be more thoroughly investigated. Reed agrees to at least look over the files, and ultimately gets involved in the case, but the situation quickly becomes complicated as Reed has his own professional and personal difficulties to deal with, he is uncertain about the stability of Ellery, and Ellery is hiding things from multiple people, most significantly her past, which results in confusion, chaos, and potentially unnecessary harm to others. The overall story was good, with plenty of mystery, surprises, and creepiness. I also liked the character development, especially for Ellery and Reed. However, a quarter of the way through the book I knew the identity of the serial killer, though not his motivation or why he chose his victims. There were also clues that I thought Ellery, given her background, ought to have picked up on sooner; though, while this would have allowed Ellery and Reed to make necessary connections earlier, it would not necessarily have changed the fates of certain characters. The book could have been better, but still well worth the read, 3.5 stars. I received a copy of the e-book via NetGalley in exchange for a review.
This book and it's sequel was offered to me along with the option to request the new book, book 3, which is releasing soon. I hadn't read the book or the author, and it had good reviews, so I thought I'd take a chance. I kinda wish I hadn't. The story overall was ok. Nothing great, but it was ok. But overall, the book felt like it needed some serious editing. Usually with ARC's, I can over look that, because I"m getting an uncorrected proof, but this book was published a few years ago, so that's not the case here. There were glaring inconsistencies and tangents that were fully unnecessary to the story. Additionally, the author who says she's from and lives in Boston clearly does not know Massachusetts geography. For someone not familiar with the area, it would probably be ok, but I am familiar, and it was highly distracting. Also, at a few points, the main character (who had too many names - seriously, 4 different names for one character?) grew up in both Chicago and Boston, and when she was from Chicago she heard gossip on the streets of Boston and vice versa. These cities are not close to each other! I felt like I had no idea where the character was, what the setting was, or who was really telling the story. I complained so much while reading this book, I drove my family crazy. It was just so annoying. I ended up having to skim read portions of the book, but I don't think it took away from the overall story. IT was the only way I could finish the book. I have book 2 as well, and wish I didn't. But I'll read it and see if it's any better. I hope so. And I'm hoping now that I don't 'win' book 3, because - wow. It's so disappointing when small errors take over the whole experience.
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings The first in a series that I was excited to start. Ellery Hathaway has moved to a quiet town to escape her past in Chicago. She wants to leave it all behind and just do her job as a police officer. There have been three disappearances and some mystery things happening and she swears it is related to her past but can't get the attention of her co workers until she calls an old friend from the FBI and gets things moving. This was such a great mystery. There were definitely some gruesome moments so if you don't love to hear the gruesome details you may want to skip this one.