‘The Vanishing Season’ by Dot Hutchinson ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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‘The Vanishing Season’ by Dot Hutchinson  ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

A recent abduction becomes an unexpected link to a decades-long spree of unspeakable crimes.

Eight year old Brooklyn Mercer has gone missing. And as accustomed as FBI agents Eliza Sterling and Brandon Eddison are to such harrowing cases, this one has struck a nerve. It marks the anniversary of the disappearance of Eddison’s own little sister. Disturbing, too, is the girl’s resemblance to Eliza–so uncanny they could be mother and daughter.

With Eddison’s unsettled past rising again with rage and pain, Eliza is determined to solve this case at any cost. But the closer she looks, the more reluctant she is to divulge to her increasingly shaken partner what she finds. Brooklyn isn’t the only girl of her exact description to go missing. She’s just the latest in a frightening pattern going back decades in cities throughout the entire country.

In a race against time, Eliza’s determined to bring Brooklyn home and somehow find the link to the cold case that has haunted Eddison–and the entire Crimes Against Children team–since its inception.

Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer and Dot Hutchinson for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

When I saw that this book was available to read now on NetGalley I was so excited. I have loved Dot Hutchinson’s the Collector series ever since reading The Butterfly Collector and have been eagerly awaiting the fourth installment since last summer.

When the team get the call that eight year old Brooklyn Mercer disappeared on her way home from school they immediately know this will be one that affects them even more than usual. Brooklyn has disappeared the week before the twenty fifth anniversary of the disappearance of Faith Eddison, the younger sister of Agent Bran Eddison. Like Brooklyn Faith was eight years old when she disappeared on her way home from school and the girls look so alike they could be twins.

The team receive information from a retired detective possibly linking Brooklyn’s disappearance not only to that of Faith Eddison, but a number of young girls of the same description that have gone missing in various cities over a number of decades. With Bran increasingly struggling to hold it together Eliza is heightened in her resoluteness to not only find Brooklyn before it’s too late, but to solve this case and bring his little sister home at last.

The Collector series focuses on the Crimes Against Children division of the FBI and it’s team of agents. Each book has focused on a different team member using their histories, strengths and weaknesses in relation to the case they are trying to solve and having that particular agent as the narrator. For me this makes each book seem distinct, and almost like a stand-alone, while also having the familiarity of a series. Being so distinct you could read any book in this series as a stand-alone.The author provides the information a new reader needs to understand the dynamics of different relationships and certain events, or that will refresh the memory of someone who has read the previous books. That being said I always think you enjoy any book in a series even more if you’ve read the previous books.

This time it was the turn of Eliza Sterling to tell the story. Eliza transferred to the team four years earlier after working with them from a local field office when they investigated another case. She is known to get so focused on cases that she forgets to eat or drink unless instructed and will even be so engrossed in her work that she stays at her desk long into the night and sometimes even until the next morning. Each team member has a different strength based on what they’ve gone through in their lives and Eliza’s is that she is the person who is best at dealing with the families of the perpetrator and reminding them this isn’t their fault and they weren’t to have known what their loved one was hiding from them.

After waiting so long for this book the only disappointment was that it is the last in the series. This was a compelling thriller that I didn’t want to put down but also didn’t want to finish as I was enjoying it so much. The tension never waned and surged as they learned their case was even more disturbing than they’d originally believed. Finally learning more about both Faith and her disappearance after knowing so little in the previous books was something that was heartbreaking but great as a reader. Bran’s refusal to even discuss Faith has shown how deeply he’s affected by not knowing what happened to her and I had always hoped we’d someday find out more and that he and his family would get the answers they’ve spent so long searching for. I enjoyed the dynamic between Eliza and Bran as they switched between colleagues and lovers, and was rooting for not only the case to be solved, but them to survive such a traumatic and testing experience. I also liked that yet again I could find no obvious suspect for the crimes and that I was grasping for clues along with the agents.

The Vanishing Season is an absorbing thriller that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys thrillers and crime fiction. While I’m sad there won’t be any more stories from the Crimes Against Children division, and would like to use this opportunity to implore the author to change her mind and continue the series, I am excited to see what Ms. Hutchinson writes next.

Out May 21st

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