The Vanishing Season: A Mystery

The Vanishing Season: A Mystery

by Joanna Schaffhausen


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250199553
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 01/08/2019
Series: Ellery Hathaway , #1
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 235,341
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

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


Present Day

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"
by .
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.

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The Vanishing Season: A Mystery 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable!
TheLifeofaBookAddict 5 months ago
Ellery knows someone else is going to disappear again. Time is running out and she needs to do something. The Police Chief doesn’t believe there is anything to worry about. He doesn’t see the connection that Ellery does, so she contacts someone she hopes will believe her. Ellery calls on Reed Markham, the FBI Agent that rescued her from the clutches of a serial killer all those years ago. Reed is surprised to hear from Ellery. He’s always wondered what she made of her life. When he gets her plea for help, he knows it may not be the best move career wise, but he hops on a plane regardless. Despite making a big mistake on his last case; he is committed to his job and he will always try and help/save someone if at all possible. When he visits Ellery in her town of Woodbury, things don’t completely add up though. Is there a serial killer loose in Woodbury or is she obsessing over nothing? I liked Ellery, she is tough and smart, but she also has a few inner demons she sometimes battles with. Who wouldn’t if they were held captive by a serial killer? She doesn’t tell people that she is the one victim of Frances Coben who survived. She likes to keep her private life private. No one but Reed seems to understand the urgency to find this possible serial killer before he or she strikes again. Reed and Ellery hadn’t seen each other since that day he saved her, so they are a little unfamiliar with each other at first. However, the more time Reed helps her with this investigation, the more they appear to work well together. The writing and pace of the story was well done. There was just enough that kept happening to keep me turning pages and hold my interest. I liked the complexity of Ellery and Reed and the interesting course the author decided to take with her characters. The mystery was one I did not guess so easily, which I appreciated. All in all, I would say The Vanishing Season is a great start in a new crime fiction series. RATING: 4 out of 5. **Even though I received this book on behalf of the Publisher, the thoughts & opinions expressed are solely my own.**
KaneH More than 1 year ago
In this debut suspense novel, we get a cast of damaged characters with dark backgrounds, and sly serial killers who stir them all up. It's got small-town paranoia, with scared, confused people questioning themselves and each other. When things escalate, the lid of the simmering pot blows off, and things erupt. It's what you want in a tale of suspense, with thrills and horrible happenings. Look for more by this author!
lindyLW More than 1 year ago
I started the book last evening and couldn`t stop reading it till I was done. It was so good, I really enjoyed it. It was her first book and hope she does more.
RowingRabbit More than 1 year ago
For the past 3 years, Ellery Hathaway has received the same card on her birthday. From a relative? Perhaps a friend. Uh, no. The cards may be unsigned but she knows exactly what their arrival means. Ellie is a cop in the rural town of Woodbury. It’s a sleepy place where crimes range from petty to domestic. The cop shop is small & the only outstanding mysteries are 3 missing persons. One each July when Ellie turns another year older. She’s desperate to reopen the cases but until she comes up with some new info, her boss doesn’t want to hear it. As far as he’s concerned there’s nothing to connect the 3 & he’s satisfied with what they found. But Ellie has more insight than most & with good reason. Turns out she has a secret & it’s a whopper. When she was 14, she became famous as the final victim of a prolific & sadistic kidnapper. She only survived because of a brilliant FBI agent named Reed Markham. But survival can take many forms. The time she spent with a mad man & ensuing media crush left Ellie with obvious & hidden scars. In an effort to escape her past, she changed her name & broke all ties. No one in Woodbury knows who she is or at least that’s what she thought. As another July approaches, Ellie fears someone else will disappear & there’s only one person who can help. Because she just got another card. Got your attention? I hope so because this taut, atmospheric read deserves a space on your TBR pile. It succeeds on several levels but I’ll just speak to a few. First, the setting. A small town is the perfect backdrop for setting the tone. Everyone knows everyone…or thinks they do. There is a closed culture that desperately wants to believe in “stranger danger” because horrific crimes couldn’t possibly be committed by someone they know, right? The sense of security borne of familiar faces & routines can be the first casualty when a killer strikes. But that familiarity also means that someone must know something. Then we have the 2 MC’s. Their personalities are very different but both are dealing with fallout from the case that brought them together all those years ago. There’s a plethora of crime protagonists out there that come saddled with PTSD/tortured/hidden pasts & how much I enjoy their story often depends on how they’re portrayed. When it comes to Ellie, this author struck a perfect balance (IMHO). Her public persona is cool & collected, designed to discourage anyone from getting too close. But we are privy to private moments where her thoughts & habits reveal how she copes with the permanent psychological damage from her ordeal. Especially effective are the descriptions of her home which provide a telling mirror reflection of its owner. Reed is also well developed, a likeable flawed man whose career peaked when he rescued teenage Ellie. A subsequent screw-up erased his status as golden boy of the FBI’s Behavioural Unit. When Ellie calls it’s a chance to revisit his greatest success & perhaps find a little personal redemption in the process. There’s a subtle underlying unease that gradually builds as we, like Ellie & Reed, wait for the killer to make their next move. Questionable behaviour from several characters means you may change your mind more than once as you try to identify the bad guy. And just so you know, details from Ellie’s past are sparing & kept to a minimum. The author chose to reveal a few choice tidbits instead of full on graphic descriptions which allows your imagination to run amok & fill in the blan
HowUsefulItIs More than 1 year ago
About: The Vanishing Season is a mystery thriller written by Joanna Schaffhausen. It was recently published on 12/5/17 by Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, 288 pages. The genres are mystery, thriller, suspense, and fiction. This book is the author’s debut. My Experience: I started reading The Vanishing Season on 1/2/18 and finished it on 1/8/18. This book is an excellent read! I love following Ellery and Reed’s thought processes and their detective work. I like seeing them connecting the dots to little clues available to what seems like dead end cases. I like how the evidence points to many people and each of them could be the suspect. My brain is so busy trying to solve the case and I couldn’t read fast enough to find out what will happen. It was tough to put down after each read. This book is told in the third person point of view following Ellery (Ellie) Hathaway, a patrol officer in a small town of Woodbury, MA and Reed Markham, an on-leave FBI Agent who is famous for his rescue of #17 victim to the Coben serial killer. Ellery harbor a big secret and has been living life under the radar. She deals with domestic disturbances on her job but what she really wanted was to solve the three missing person cases before another person becomes a victim. It has been three years and the victims have remained missing, Ellery decided to recruit Reed Markham to help solve the cases. As soon as Reed arrived into town, a severed hand of one of the missing victims arrived at Ellery’s doorstep gift wrapped. The news connected the dots and discovered Ellery’s darkest secret. Time is running out before another person goes missing and whether there is a copycat out there or if the serial killer from 14 years ago is acting out from death row. This book is very well written and carefully organized. I love the mystery and suspense. I like the chilling postcard and its mysterious background. I like Ellery and how she cared to make a difference as a police officer when she couldn’t protect Rosalie. I like Ellery’s name because it’s the first time I have come across. It’s unique, original, and easy to pronounce. I like the reminder about Reed’s life. His struggles to maintain his time for work and family is a good reminder to us all that we shouldn’t take family time for granted. I was able to guess the name of the killer but the reason behind it is surprising. It’s definitely interesting how people actually want to go down in history as killers instead of hero or inventor. Too bad there isn’t much romance, but that’s alright because the read is still fantastic and I highly recommend everyone to read it! Pro: mystery, suspense, page turner, fast paced, serial killer, abduction, connecting the dots, Con: none I rate it 5 stars! ***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Minotaur Books for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest. xoxo, Jasmine at howusefulitis dot wordpress dot com for more details
Standardgirl4u More than 1 year ago
Thank you publisher for granting my wish to read this. The cover is what first drew me in. The blurb made me need to read it. Congrats to the author on a debut book. I couldn't put it down once I started it. It gripped me and didn't let go. I had my suspicion on who the serial killer was pretty early on. Then I thought no its not him but always in the back of my mind he stood out to me. I loved the characters, the story, the thrill of trying to see if I was right with my guess. I look forward to reading many more books by this author.
Standardgirl4u More than 1 year ago
Thank you publisher for granting my wish to read this. The cover is what first drew me in. The blurb made me need to read it. Congrats to the author on a debut book. I couldn't put it down once I started it. It gripped me and didn't let go. I had my suspicion on who the serial killer was pretty early on. Then I thought no its not him but always in the back of my mind he stood out to me. I loved the characters, the story, the thrill of trying to see if I was right with my guess. I look forward to reading many more books by this author.
AmberK1120 More than 1 year ago
Thanks to Minotaur Books for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I was so excited to read this book. I had added it to my to-read list during the first part of the summer, and I’ve been impatiently counting down the days until I could get a copy in my hands. I mean, the only surviving victim of a serial killer who’s now being targeted again? Sign me up! Thank you to Minotaur Books for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Schaffhausen succeeded in writing a story that kept me constantly guessing; guessing which character was “the one”, guessing what their next move would be, and guessing whether or not Ellery would survive this second round of trauma. I’ll admit that the culprit was someone I had questioned at one point, but for reasons I won’t mention (possible spoilers; can’t be too careful) I had decided was not the source of evil. To be brutally honest, I was a bit disappointed to realize I had questioned this particular character when I realized who it (“the one”) was, but at the same time I was impressed that Schaffhausen had kept me guessing and second-guessing my theories until the very end. One other aspect of The Vanishing Season that I want to mention: the myriad of personalities in the story. There were a lot of strong personalities, some that meshed and some that repelled, and I loved it. A book can feel stagnant when all of the characters feel like the same person, so I’m a big fan of those strong personalities being present in stories. If you’re a fan of intense psychological thrillers, you definitely want to add this to their TBR pile.
whatsbetterthanbooks More than 1 year ago
Clever, disturbing, and highly suspenseful! In this debut novel by Schaffhausen, The Vanishing Season, we are introduced to the tenacious, scarred Officer Hathaway and the once heroic now spiritless Agent Reed as they hunt for a serial killer with an all-consuming obsession and a penchant for violence. The writing is taut and precise. The characters are flawed, complex and intriguing. And the plot is an intense, intricate police procedural full of twists, turns, surprises, cunning brutality, manipulation, and murder. The Vanishing Season is truly a gripping, sinister page-turner that had me on the edge of my seat from the very first page and left me hoping this isn't the last but only the first case for Hathaway and Reed.
Samantha1020 More than 1 year ago
The Vanishing Season was a thrilling read that left me really excited to read more by this author. It was also a much darker mystery than I expected which I enjoyed. I don't know why that I thought it was going to be closer to a cozy mystery but that definitely wasn't the case! Instead, this book was filled with suspense and had me reading late into the night. In this book, Ellery is investigating the disappearances of three different individuals who she believes are now dead and possibly the victims of a serial killer. She has no proof though and no one will listen which is why she then turns to Reed Markham, the agent that saved her when she was younger from a serial killer. That's enough right there to get things started, and to get me as the reader turning the pages. I loved that I was instantly caught up within the pages of this mystery. What happened to Ellery when she was a young girl was horrifying but she has basically hidden her past from everyone that is in her life now. Those secrets though are about to brought into the open as someone else is about to go missing. I felt like this added such a different layer of tension to the book because as the reader you are just waiting to see when her past will be revealed. I also really enjoyed the fact that because Ellery kept her past hidden from others that there is a layer of mistrust of her intentions present. I'm trying not to say too much but you are led to wonder on if she is right that there is a serial killer at work or if there are other reasons behind her pushing for these investigations. I won't say more than that though! I really enjoyed both Ellery and Reed as main characters - I would love if this was just the beginning of a new mystery series focusing on them! They are both so damaged but in different ways. I just couldn't get enough of either of them. The ending was intense and unexpected - I didn't figure out who the killer was until I was supposed to. At that point I found myself unable to stop reading as I just needed to see how it would all end. I was left wanting more from these characters, more from this story.....but all in a good way as I just wasn't ready to see the book end. I can easily say that this is an author that I will be watching and reading more of! Overall I really, really enjoyed my reading experience with this book! It was dark, creepy, and thrilling - everything that I enjoy in a great mystery read! I really couldn't get enough of it which should be apparent in my review. Ha! I would say that I flew through the pages but I read it on my e-reader so should I say I swiped through the pages as past as I could? LOL! Honestly it was a really great mystery and I'm so glad that I had the chance to read it. I will be reading whatever this author writes next since I enjoyed this one so much! I would recommend this one to fans of mysteries and thrillers alike. Highly recommended! Bottom Line: A really great mystery that I couldn't put down! Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
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, Woodbury, 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 dismissed. 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. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of St. Martin's Press
PNWBookworm More than 1 year ago
Dark and haunting with likeable characters and a plot that kept me reading until the last page. I thoroughly enjoyed following the mystery and I was surprised at the end, I honestly didn’t see that coming. The chemistry between Ellery and Reed added depth to the story and I also loved the added character of Ellery’s dog Bump. The writing was well done and the suspenseful atmosphere was maintained through the whole story without feeling overdone. All in all this was a great thriller that I would recommend if you are looking for a suspenseful read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Vanishing Season works for the most part as a Cold-Case novel brought back from the Dead (Ugly Pun) when new murders with similar circumstances start occurring. What worked for me is Joanna Schaffhausen way with words. The pacing works, the characters meld together well, and although I figured out who the perpatrator was by the middle of the book, the why was not divined by me until it was actually revealed. Well done!!! Ellery Hathaway is a damaged woman having been the sole survivor of a serial Killer. She has gone on to become a Police Officer in a small town in no small part due to FBI Agent Reed Markham, the Agent who rescued her. She notices that abductions and murders have started to occur near her birthday. Cards also being sent to her as a reminder of what had happened so long ago. Since no one believes her she has been caring out her own investigation. Hence Reed Markham entering the case at her insistence. The story works even with some rather glaring plot holes. Will not mention what these are since doing so could be spoilers. The cover of the book works well with the storyline and Ellery's damaged self trying to remain hidden from eyes prying into her background. I wish to thank St Martin's Press, Joanna Schaffhausen, and NetGalley for the privilege of offering up my opinion in exchange for my copy.
SchizanthusNerd More than 1 year ago
I’ve done it! I’ve finally done it!! I’ve found an author whose writing is worthy of being compared to Tess Gerritsen. I’m going to go out on a limb here and call it early ... remember this name because Joanna Schaffhausen’s ability to immerse you in her character’s world has bestseller written all over it. I wanted to both rush through The Vanishing Season and read as slowly as possible to draw the experience of the first read out for as long as possible. I know a book has its hooks in me when I start repeating a phrase to myself while reading, as if the number of times I repeat it can magically increase the likelihood of my being able to influence the outcome. Yes, in my mind I wield that much power! In this case I had two magical phrases: 1. “Please don’t let Bump die!” 2. “Let the killer be anyone but ...” I adored Bump. The loyal and trustworthy male in Ellery’s life, Bump is a basset hound who loves walks and rides in the car, liberally distributing slobber over humans he likes and dreams of the day when someone will accidentally drop a piece of chocolate in his vicinity. I loved the people characters as well. No one was perfect. All of the major players had pasts which influenced the way they thought and acted in the situation they found themselves in. There were questionable ethics and life choices, secrets galore and issues surrounding trust were hiding beneath the surface, and shame and guilt were both explored. Coben gave me a what a fantastic yet disgusting and interesting in a disturbing way vibe that was similar to the way I felt when reading about Hannibal Lecter. Which brings me to the gore. It was gruesome enough to satisfy me yet wasn’t so focused on the brutality of the murders that it detracted from the interactions between characters and the mystery of who was behind the murders and why. Trigger warnings include domestic violence and sexual assault. The references to sexual assault are not gratuitous by any means but I felt the character directly affected was so realistic that if this has been your experience you are likely to see parts of your own response mirrored back at you (which incidentally I applaud because life after sexual assault is rarely written well). I wasn’t personally triggered while reading, instead feeling hopeful when I encountered ‘me, too’ moments. I love debut novels but I often wind up disappointed by a feeling of knowing how good a book could have been if only that brilliant idea had the execution you usually only expect with experience. Joanna’s debut had the excitement of a first time author’s passion but was written with the character development, story arc, backstories, delightful twists and sucked into a reading black hole ability I only expect of the greats once they’ve found their feet. There were some sentences where the imagery made it feel like I was reading poetry. I don’t even know Joanna yet I feel proud of her for writing such an impressive debut. If this is what she can accomplish with a first novel I can only imagine how much fun it’s going to be to read her future novels. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley (thank you to NetGalley, Minotaur Books and St. Martin’s Press for giving me the opportunity) in exchange for honest feedback. I’ve found a new author whose books will be added to my to be read list sight unseen.
Myndia More than 1 year ago
A small-town police officer has strong suspicions regarding a series of disappearances that have occurred three years in a row, all around the same time of year, but no one in town believes her concerns are valid. She’s a young, newbie officer and there is nothing tying the disappearances together, no real evidence of a crime even. What they don’t know is that Ellery knows firsthand how a serial killer works, having been the final – and only living – victim of one of the most infamous serial killers in history. To help her investigate on her own, Ellery brings in the agent who saved her all those years ago, Agent Reed Markham of the FBI. But he brings baggage of his own that may skew his perspective. Working around the local department, while working through their past experience, they focus on figuring out the cause of these disappearances. Is there a tie between the serial killer who tortured her all those years ago? Is there a connection between the missing that they haven’t figured out? And will they figure it out before another person goes missing? What a great book! I was hooked from the very first chapter and I finished it in two reading sessions (would have been one if I could have kept my eyes open the first night!). This is my favorite kind of reading experience, the kind where you fall so deeply into the book that time ceases to exist until your body (very annoyingly) reminds you. Entrancing. Ellery’s perspective as a previous victim turned cop was a huge hook for me. And her character felt genuine, human, believable. She isn’t a victim who turned into some genius serial killer hunter. She isn’t some super strong survivor who came out of her previous experience without issues. And the last thing she wants is notoriety. Her trauma is something she carries with her everywhere, and she tries to work around it, building as much of a life as she can, while trying to quietly battle the scars left behind. It all felt realistic. She felt realistic. And having Agent Reed Markham come back into her life was ingenious. His character offered a whole other perspective on the events of her kidnapping and the aftermath. How those events changed his life vs. hers. How those events changed the lives of everyone directly involved, and the lives of those they loved or would eventually love. And having him come into the story also helped provide a lot of closure for the both of them, and I really love closure. As for the whodunit part of it? So well done! From the onset, I had two potential perpetrators in mind, and that remained the case throughout. But. Just when I thought I had it figured out, a seed of doubt would be planted, and my theories would be turned upside down. So. Much. Fun! What else can I say? This is her debut novel. Debut! It was fantastic. She is on my authors to be watched list. I recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries, thrillers, etc. Actually, I recommend it if you like great books. Period. Good stuff, my friends. Good. Stuff. Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
MusicInPrint More than 1 year ago
Went home last night and never put this book down until I got to the end. I had an idea who was the "WHO Done it?" but just had to know this killers' motive. Ellery Hathaway was the victim of a kidnapping slash serial killer when she was fourteen years old. She was the one who got rescued unlike the prior victims who lost their youth. Reed Markham is an FBI agent who was Ellery's hero then but now struggles with his job when another victim was not saved. Over a decade has passed for Ellery who has been hiding in plain site, though disguised somewhat, in a small town in Massachusetts. Working as a policewomen In Woodbury Ellery cannot shake the feeling that her past nightmare has found her. Three people have vanished each year near her birthday. Since her abduction took place on her birthday and the day is rapidly approaching again she knows someone will die again. Getting nowhere with her boss she enlists the aid of Markham. The two team to try to find the connection between the three people who have disappeared and make comparisons with the past. "A copy of this book was provided by St. Martin's Press and Minotaur Books via Netgalley with no requirements for a review. Comments here are my honest opinion."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago