Review: The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen


Release date: December 5, 2017

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Genre: Mystery


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.


This opens with a bang that grabbed my attention right away, fourteen years ago a young woman was kidnapped and tortured by a twisted serial killer and she’s the only victim to make it out alive. Someone saw Ellery the day she was taken, but they’ve remained silent all of these years, creepy right?! As much as the beginning sucked me in, the pacing throughout the bulk lagged a bit and left me wanting more, it didn’t match the initial intensity and felt sort of drawn out.

This felt more like a police procedural than a true thriller, the beginning and ending had some tense parts but the majority was pretty mild. The chapters were long, I prefer shorter, fast paced chapters in a mystery/thriller and I think the more sedate pacing left me feeling underwhelmed and wanting more. The plot itself was interesting, there was a lot going on and it was pretty well executed but I did figure out the who well before the big reveal. I mean, it’s bound to happen though, I read so much that I can’t always be fooled, but I think it was fairly obvious.

This is one of those middle of the road reads for me, plenty I liked such as the writing style and the characterization, Ellery and Reed both intrigued me. What lost me was the pacing and the lack of true tension coupled with me guessing whodunnit. Still, it’s a solid debut and I can see why it’s garnering so much praise, it just wasn’t as amazing as I had hoped.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

14 thoughts on “Review: The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

  1. readingbetweenwines says:

    Wasn’t obvious to me at ALL. 🙈😂 I actually really enjoyed this book and I was captivated the entire time. Sorry you didn’t love this one. 😔

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s