The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ellery Hathaway knows a thing or two about serial killers, but not through her police training: she was once victim #17 of serial killer Francis Michael Coben. She was the only who survived. Back then, she was Abigail. Now, she has shed both her name and all connections to her past, in order to focus on the future and try to stop other innocent people from getting in harm’s way. But when 3 people disappear from her town in the span of 3 years – all around her birthday – Ellery fears someone knows her secret. 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 all those years ago. Agent Reed Markham may have become famous for solving the Coben case, but his luck has changed since then. When Ellery calls him, he reluctantly agrees to help her. 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.

While the beginning of this novel started off as a thriller, I think this would be better described as a crime story. The author maintained a good pace and I quite enjoyed the writing style, which switched between the perspectives of Ellery and Reed. This was a short book compared to most other crime fiction/thrillers that I read, which meant that things moved along quite quickly. This may have been why I hesitate to call this novel a thriller; there really wasn’t the time to allow the tension and questions to build up. I thought that the story was interesting and it definitely had my attention from the start. It was a little too detailed at times, with side information that was not really important or necessary for character development or the story. I would have preferred if there had been more of an emphasis on profiling criminals and more red herrings in place. The ending was also easy to predict but enjoyable nevertheless. Overall, this was a nice mystery and I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of crime fiction and is looking for a short read. Solid 3/5 stars from me!

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