Winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition, Joanna Schaffhausen’s accomplished debut The Vanishing Season will grip readers from the opening page to the stunning conclusion.
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 one who lived.
When three people disappear from her town in three years—all around her birthday—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 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.
In Schaffhausen's powerful if implausible first novel, Ellery "Ellie" Hathaway is the only cop in Woodbury, Mass., convinced that the baffling disappearances from the small town one every July for the past three years are connected to each other, and to sadistic imprisoned serial killer Francis Michael Coben. She's also the only one of Coben's victims to survive. Fearing the worst as the July window once again looms, Ellie reluctantly reaches out to the one person she thinks might be willing to help: FBI profiler Reed Markham, who cracked the Coben case 14 years earlier and rescued her. The other members of the Woodbury force are less than pleased by Markham's arrival, especially when it's followed within days by a grisly present on Ellie's porch a severed hand, Coben's signature. Although the book's eventual big reveal feels contrived, until then the complex plot and affecting characters especially gritty survivor Ellie and her basset hound, Bump make for some nail-bitingly tense thrills.