Book Review: The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen
I picked up the below book as part of the Black Hearts Reads (check them out on Instagram @blackheartreads) book club. They pick a new “creepy, dark, and twisted” book each month with a discussion on Instagram at the end of the month. It seemed low key and easy to be involved as it’s all on Instagram right now. I missed the first month (they just started) but thought this book sounded interesting so I picked up the book to join along with the club.
Ellery Hathaway, the only victim who survived when abducted by serial killer Francis Michael when she was younger, has changed her name and is trying to keep the past away as a cop in a small town in Massachusetts. As people start to go missing every year around her birthday, Ellery knows something is wrong and that someone is trying to send her a message. With the help of the FBI agent who saved her life, whose own life is a complete mess right now, Ellery will try to stop whoever is out there bringing back her past nightmares.
I enjoyed the plot and trying to figure out the mystery as the story went on. There were several layers to the story with Ellery’s past and the current crime which added some depth that made the plot more interesting. I still have a few unanswered questions about things at the end, but overall I thought the story wrapped up nicely.
Ellery and Reed were both characters who were battling their own demons while trying to solve the current case. Although that story line is used frequently in thrillers, I still enjoyed it, the author used a little of the “character with a rough past has a drinking problem so no one believes them” concept, which I hate, but fortunately it wasn’t a huge part of the story. Ellery’s dog Bump added light-hearted moments to the dark story, and I really thought bump was used well throughout the story, especially at the end. There is a good amount of police work/FBI behavioral analysis in this story, which I personally really enjoyed, but I can see why some readers might feel parts of the book were a little slow.
The book has several typos and mistakes, which always takes away from a book for me. There were at least 2 sentences where I had to go back and re-read because there was an additional or incorrect word that was not supposed to be there, and it just messed with the flow of the story.
Rating 4/ 5 – While still a thriller that uses many of the standard story lines, The Vanishing Girls added interesting plot points (including a healthy dose of police procedural) to distinguish this book from others. A fast read, I couldn’t wait to get to the end to see who did it.
What do you want out of your thrillers? More or less police procedural?