Dot Hutchinson redefines family in her new thriller, ‘The Vanishing Season’

Title: The Vanishing Season (The Collector Book 4)
Author: Dot Hutchinson
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Length: 320 p
Publishing Date21 May 2019

Sometimes we only recognize our limits once we’ve passed them

When eight-year-old Brooklyn Mercer goes missing, FBI Agents Eliza Sterling and Brandon Eddison–both part of the Crimes Against Children team–try not to take the case personally. But with this disappearance happening so close to the anniversary of the Eddison’s sister’s own disappearance, the nightmare of what he and his family went through becomes a fresh wound. It doesn’t help that Eliza looks just like both Brooklyn and Eddison’s sister, so much so that she’s asked to not come in contact with Brooklyn’s family in order to avoid traumatizing them more.

But Brooklyn’s family aren’t the only ones reeling from feelings of helplessness and grief. Eliza is watching Brandon come un-done, losing himself to his own unresolved guilt and rage over his sister’s unsolved case. Trying to keep boundaries between work and personal life becomes more difficult as Eliza works to solve the pieces of this puzzle, not just for the sake of the Mercers, but for Brandon’s sake too.

We heal, mostly, but even scars can bleed.

When pieces come together that Brooklyn’s disappearance is linked to disappearances of little girls across the country, the team works against the clock to find who took Brooklyn before it’s too late.

What sets The Vanishing Season apart from other police procedurals/thrillers I’ve read is that what’s at stake–that before it’s too late–isn’t just about the victims, but about the agents working the case. Not only are they working to bring a family back together, they’re working on putting themselves back together. This case is personal, not because it’s a child, but because cases like this are the exact reason why so many of the team wanted to become FBI agents to begin with.

And with this case being so personal to the main characters, the focus of the story is more on the characters themselves than the “procedural” aspects. I hadn’t read any of the previous books in this serious before but I was immediately drawn to Eliza’s character and her narration style. I found myself caring deeply not only about what Brandon was going through as we’re watching him struggle through Eliza’s eyes, but also issues Eliza is coming to terms with that I can only assume have been haunting her since the beginning of the series.

How many of us allow ourselves to just sit with a feeling like that rather than try to conquer it or push it out of the way?

The Vanishing Season is definitely a book that will feel familiar to lovers of thrillers and police procedures. But, it’s also a book that takes a look at what brings people together and the bonds that keep them together, no matter if it’s blood, working closely as a team, or shared (traumatic) experiences. Hutchinson both entertains and tugs at heartstrings in this perfect summer thriller.

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