The Vanishing Season (Ellery Hathaway: Book 1) by Joanna Schaffhausen

The Vanishing Season: A Mystery (Ellery Hathaway Book 1) by [Schaffhausen, Joanna]

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

Date of publication: December 5th 2017

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Series: Ellery Hathaway

Vanishing Season—Book 1

No Mercy—Book 2

All the Best Lies—Book 3 (expected publication date: February 11th, 2020)

Where you can find Vanishing Season: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

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.


First Line:

It’s too dark to go out but too hot to sleep.

The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

My Review:

When I saw the blurb for The Vanishing Season, I was intrigued. The victim of a serial killer becomes a cop who then sees a coincidence when people go missing each year around her birthday. The book had me at that. Forget that a famous profiler got involved, I wanted to read about how Ellery was dealing with the aftermath of her trauma. And the author more than delivered!!

The Vanishing Season takes place in the town of Woodbury, Massachusetts. Ellery Hathaway, the only living victim of a sadistic serial killer, is a police officer there. Over the past three years, Ellery has noticed that a person has gone missing on her birthday. Suspecting a serial killer, she tries to get the chief to investigate and is written off. With days left until another person disappears, Ellery reaches out to the FBI agent who rescued her. Reed Markham. Can he help Ellery find the killer before he/she strikes again?

The plotline for The Vanishing Season was lightning fast, and it kept up that pace throughout the book. There was no lag, which was surprising considering how fast this book went. The author was able to keep my focus on the book for the entire book. Put it this way; I picked this book up at 9 am and finished it at 11 am.

I loved how the author portrayed Ellery’s character. It was Ellery that drew me to the book. I wanted to know, “How could someone live after being tortured like she was?”. I got my answer back tenfold. She had severe PTSD and couldn’t form attachments. But she managed to live a normal (if you could call that normal) life. I did want to smack her mother upside the head at points in the book. Your kid was kidnapped, sexually assaulted over and over, and tortured, yet you didn’t get her into therapy? That was a massive WTF from me.

I liked Reed. He was a washed-up version of the person he was when he rescued Ellery. I liked that he acknowledged that. I wasn’t too sure what to make of his dropping everything to help Ellery when she called. But I understood why he did it. He wanted to see how she turned out. He also understood the implications of the people missing on her birthday, and he believed her when she told him what was going on. The small sub storyline with his family did catch my interest.

The main storyline was well written. The author did a fantastic job of keeping how the killer was and why he/she was doing it under wraps. She had me thinking that it was several different people until the big reveal. I was surprised at who it was. I was also shocked at the twist in the plotline. I was not expecting it to go the way it did or what happened.

The end of The Vanishing Season wrapped up beautifully. There was enough left where I did wonder what the next book will be about. I can’t wait to read it!!


I would give The Vanishing Season an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread The Vanishing Season. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

3 thoughts on “The Vanishing Season (Ellery Hathaway: Book 1) by Joanna Schaffhausen

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