Sunday, January 21, 2018

[Book Review] The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

Book Review of The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen was an interesting crime mystery that totally threw me for a loop at the end!

If you enjoy novels that are a bit of a slow-burn, but that really picks up toward the end, you have to check this one out!

Let's dive in!

The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

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.

My thoughts: 
First of all, I have to talk about how much I love this cover! The jacket design is by David Baldeosingh Rotstein, and the photo by Carmen Winant. Though the award sticker is a bit of a bummer... I honestly wish that wasn't in included at all because it totally ruins the tone of the cover. But of course, I do understand why it was stuck on there.

I really love the cover image and how some of the woman's hair has been blown across her face, further blurring her in the fog. I also really love the way the title also blurs out. And then of course there is the orange and red hues that are included in the 'S' and the 'H' in "Vanishing" which really caught my eye!

Overall I enjoyed this read. Though I thought it was a strange mix... I wasn’t ever really hooked as it was a pretty slow-burn. But I did love the little twists and turns that it took.

And I was totally caught off guard by the reveal! The author definitely leads you into thinking that the bad guy is a different character, and then right when the suspense builds, bam! Twist!

One of my favorite elements of the book was a dog named Speed Bump, or Bump for short. I really loved the scenes that he was in!

I also really enjoyed that the characters discussed other true crime individuals such as Herbert Mullin and Edmund Kemper. There were also quite a few pop culture references made that had me grinning.

Beware, the negatives:
My main complaint was this this book sometimes lacked consistency.
  • One minute Ellery isn't letting Reed follow her home and the next she’s driving him to her house. 
  • They kept talking about a beer bottle, but then it’s suddenly referred to as a can of beer.
  • Reed wouldn’t let her leave his sight...only when she used the bathroom. They’ve flagged the culprit as someone with power, possibly a cop... and then he lets her go off alone to a house in the woods with a cop? 
In the beginning of the book, there was a bit of repetition that bothered me, but luckily it didn’t carry over into the rest of the book. Though I do have to say that it almost made me put the book down.

And lastly, I just didn’t really care for the characters. I wanted to like Ellery and Reed. But they just weren’t likable characters for me. I found them both to be a bit dry and dull.

My favorite passages:
... his colleagues would sometimes ask, “How do you read people so well?” He would answer that it was easier than anyone believed; people would gladly tell you who they were if you only cared to listen.

Everyone expects the bogeyman to look like some sort of freak, but these guys, half of them could pass for Mr. Rogers.

She had seen the message and felt the wind go out of her, the past rising up like an icy wave to steal her very breath. Someone knew. New enough to find her birthday, and the rest would come tumbling after. She’d escaped from the paper-thin edge, run off the page of her own story only to discover should failed to shut the book.

Ellery stopped her truck the first available spot along the side of the road and leapt out practically before the thing was in Park. Bump barked after her, clambering into the driver’s seat, and Reed seized this moment of freedom to get out.

“Great,” Reed said under his breath. “I’m going to get my eye poked out because some grungy mutt thinks he’s got a starring role in Lady and the Tramp.”

When your whole world blew apart, the shrapnel sprayed far and wide, taking out anyone in its path.

My final thoughts:
Overall a worthwhile read for sure! I'd like to see this one become a movie at some point. I would recommend this to fans of slower crime mysteries.

Thanks for reading!
Have you read a crime mystery recently? If so, I'd love to hear about it!


  1. I love this cover as well. I don't generally read mystery, but this one sounds like it could be worth the read. Thanks for sharing your review.

  2. Sign me up! Great review and you've sold me on this one.

  3. Is it odd that I really had to look at the cover to figure out what I was seeing? Otherwise, great review, Erica!