The Vanishing Season
by Joanna Schaffhausen
Review by Mel Jacob
Minotaur Books Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250126047
Date: 05 December 2017
A young teenager survives abuse by a serial killer and now as an adult is threatened by a copycat killer. The FBI agent who rescued her responds to her call for help. However, the killer has plans for both of them.
Three people have disappeared a year apart, but no bodies or notes have been found. The victims include a young college student, a middle-aged prostitute, and a mailman. The police see nothing to connect them to each other. However, Ellery Hathaway, a policewoman, is certain they were taken and likely killed by the same person. Without evidence, she is unable to convince her boss, the Chief of Police.
Every year Ellery receives a clown birthday card. She believes it comes from the killer. As her birthday nears, she fears another person will disappear. Desperate, she contacts the man who had saved her from a serial killer as a young teen.
Reed Markham is suffering burnout after kidnappers kill a six-year-old boy. He is on stress leave, his wife wants a divorce, and his drinking is taking over his life. He still remembers how he found Abigail Hathaway chained in a closet and bleeding from various wounds. Later, he and his wife wrote a bestselling book on catching the serial killer.
Reed agrees to help Ellery, and they spend countless hours reviewing what evidence Ellery has gathered. The police chief is furious when he discovers Reed is working with Ellery and refuses to share information. So far no bodies or severed hands have been found and Coburn, the serial killer who abducted Ellery, is still in jail.
The Vanishing Season is Schaffhausen's debut novel. She describes it as a thriller/mystery and includes enough detail to keep jaded readers interested. Astute readers may eventually identify the killer but are unlikely to guess all the details. In many ways, the novel is about redemption.