“The Vanishing Season” is a fast-paced suspenseful mystery thriller. It’s author Joanna Shaffhausen effectively scatters clues throughout the story and ends the book with a twist.
The main character Ellery Hathaway is a strong independent character. She was a child victim and only survivor of the serial killer, Francis Michael Coben.
Ellery was kidnapped on her fourteenth birthday by the serial killer. Now 14 years later, Ellery is a police detective in the small town of Woodbury, Maine. She has kept her long ago secret, but Ellery is convinced that this secret has come back to haunt her.
Three people from the small town have disappeared over the past three years; all have disappeared around her birthday. As much as Ellery tries, she cannot convince the police chief, Sam Parker that the disappearances are related and the work of a serial killer.
Her birthday is approaching and Ellery is convinced that another person will go missing. Ellery turns to only person she can think of for help, FBI agent Reed Markham, the agent that rescued her and put Corben behind bars.
Markham has plenty of time to help since his life is in shambles; his marriage is on the rocks and he is on a leave of absence since blowing a major investigation. As Ellery and Agent Markham begin their investigation, the story blends their pasts and present fluidly. The dynamics between Ellery and Markham work well, even as they wonder if they can really trust each other.
As the clues collect you come to realize that someone witnessed Ellery’s kidnapping 14 years ago and has kept it a secret. If you enjoys mysteries, crime stories or surprise endings you will enjoy this somewhat dark thriller.