MINM Review: The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

One of the most accomplished crime fiction debuts read by Mystery in Minutes in 2017, with a plot that draws the reader in, and refuses to let go until the riveting resolution and beyond, The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen is very deserving of its Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award!

Best for Crime Fiction Readers:

  • Who enjoy crime fiction that includes one or more psychological profilers, in this instance, from the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit.
  • Who enjoy crime fiction that includes some forensic analysis.
  • Who appreciate crime novels that are cinematic. The Vanishing Season would translate well to "the big screen",  and would make a terrific film.
  • Who don't mind, or enjoy, a touch of "romance" in their crime fiction. This is a minor part of the plot,  and is not gratuitous.
  • Who appreciate crime and mystery fiction that features animals in a positive way. The main protagonist's loving and loyal Basset Hound is practically a character in the novel.
  • Who appreciate crime fiction that has a gripping and suspenseful climax. The plot of The Vanishing Season is engrossing. The denouement is simply unputdownable!

Violence: Mild-to-Moderate

Profanity: Mild

Sexual Content: None

Explicit Language: None

Animal Cruelty: Mild

Thrilling Action: Mild-to-Moderate

Red Herrings: Moderate

Twists and Turns: Moderate

Suspense: Moderate-to-High

Plot Development: Moderate

Character Development: Moderate-to-High

Pages: 288 (Hardcover)

MINM Overall Rating: 5/5

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The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen book cover image.jpg

Publisher's Blurb:

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.