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Last Seen Alive

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Member Reviews

I received this ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Wow! What a pager turner! I couldn’t put this book down! The story opens up with Amy being locked in a closet abused and terrified for her life because she knows that she will be killed by this maniac. When the door opens it is FBI agent, Reed Markham coming to her rescue. From then on Amy has become a special person to Reed and he is always looking out for her.  

We are now in the present day and serial killer, Frances Coben has requested an interview with the press which he wants aired on tv. For this interview he will give up where he buried some of his victims. Coben is also requesting that Amy, his only surviving victim come to interview and talk to him. Amy who is now known as Ellery Hathaway with the Boston Police Department. Ellery is unaware that any of this is happening but Reed has been told by his bosses that he has to work with the press and help them, so that the FBI can gather the information that Coben has on the burial sites. Reed absolutely refuses to involve Ellery in this interview but decides to fly to Boston to let her know what is happening.  

While he is in Boston a murder happens that follows Coben’s MO exactly and this pulls Ellery into not only the past but into talking to Coben. She realizes that she needs to face to face visit with Coben to expelling him out of her system once for all.  

Read this book and enjoy a wild ride of suspense and mystery with both Ellery and Reed.
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Having read and thoroughly enjoyed another book by this author - but not in this series - I didn't hesitate when I got a chance to read a pre-release copy of this one (thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley). Now, the only thing that disappoints me is that I missed the first four, although this one stands on its own quite well. It was so good, in fact, that I put off making dinner for an hour and a half so I could get to the exciting finish.

She was the one who got away: Abigail Ellery Hathaway, now a Boston detective, managed to escape serial torturer and killer of women Frances Coben. He was caught has been languishing in prison for a couple of decades; the man who found and saved her, FBI agent Reed Markham, later became her lover. Still traumatized by the horrific treatment she endured at Coven's hands, Ellery, as she now calls herself, recently called things off with Reed. But now, out of the blue, Coben claims he's remorseful and wants to come clean by revealing the location of some of his victims' bodies (minus the body parts he keeps as trophies) - but only if he can confess to his "Abby."

Reed objects, but a TV crew gets into the act as well and puts some pressure on the powers-that-be. Just because the confrontation might bring closure to families of the victims, Reed and Ellery agree to meet Coben in prison. It's arranged, but Coben does little more than confuse the issue. Confounding things even more, a new body turns up with a too-similar M.O. - but Coben couldn't possibly have done it from jail. Or could he?

Amid all this, the impossible happens (no, I won't say what) - and from that point on, I was on the edge of my seat even though some of the happenings were predictable. Besides that, I really liked Ellery and Reed (him in particular), so I had my fingers and toes crossed that they'd get back together again (no, I won't reveal that, either). All in all, a most engrossing novel very much recommended.
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This is an unpopular review. 

I didn’t enjoy this book. In fact I started it towards the end of September and I probably should have DNF into October and now I just finished it in November. I’m not sure if it was the pacing of the book, or that there was nothing too BIG happening when it starts.

There was mostly a lot of speculation going around about who could have done a recently killing. Additional characters appeared and just as fast, disappeared. Towards the end it kind of picked up and then it stretched out a little more when I think should have wrapped up sooner.

Maybe I was not in a good headspace when I started reading the book so this may be your next five star read for you. 

Thank you to @netgalley @stmartinspress and @joannaschaffhausen for this digital ARC in exchange for my review.
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This book was AMAZING!!!! This book made me feel like I was watching some of the true crime shows I love so much. It was so detailed and the author did not leave anything out. Even though this is book number 5, its a great stand alone, and the characters were awesome, give me a BADASS female character and we are SET!

We meet Ellery and Reed, these characters are soo good together!!!! Anyway Ellery is a cop, Reed is a profiler for the FBI. Anyway, Ellery was a victim of this horrible man who picks up girls and kills them, the way he goes about it though??? CREEPY! Anyway, she was the one that got away all of those years ago, she is still battling her demons, and these twists and turns????? OMG! And a bigger OMG for Ellery, this woman went through so much, I oculdnt stop the tears when all is revealed, also its a huge page turner, and there is a lot of things that go on in this book that I never expected. I LOVED IT!
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From the book  jacket"...Boston detective Ellery Hathaway met FBI agent Reed Markham when he pried open a serial killer’s closet to rescue her. Years on, their relationship remains defined by that moment and by Francis Coben’s horrific crimes. To free herself from Coben’s legacy, Ellery had to walk away from Reed, too. But Coben is not letting go so easily. He has an impossible proposition: Coben will finally give up the location of the remaining bodies, on one condition—Reed must bring him Ellery."
Even though this book is a part of a series, you can read this as a stand alone. I like that Joanna Schaffhausen's female detectives are strong women. I like the author's writing style. I also appreciate the handling of traumatic scenes. The fact that "the one that got away" as per the media, didn't really get away from the nightmares. I am happy Ellery hopefully will have some closure. 

Special thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press/ Minotaur Books for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange for my honest opinions. I meant to write a way way earlier but it's been very busy at work :(
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Last Seen Alive, book 5 in the Ellery Hathaway series is just brilliant!  I have loved everything about this ride and now it feels we have come full circle.  I was sad when I finished it but satisfied with all that had happened.

This is a hard book to review without spoilers.  This one could be read as a standalone but I highly recommend reading the entire series in order.  There is so much to Ellery and Reed as well as our serial killer Francis Cohen.  In this book we learn alot more about Cohen and how is mind works.  He reaches out to Reed and offers to give up the locations of the bodies, in exchange for a face to face meeting with Ellery.  It has been 17 years and while she knows that the victims families need closure, it is one of the hardest things she has to do.

I loved these characters and all that they had been through. The storylines, their relationships - everything.  A fantastic serial killer and police procedural series that you need to read.

Thanks to Netgalley and St Martin's Press for my advanced copy of this book to read.
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Wow and oh, my! Fans of dark mystery/suspense thrillers will not want to miss the fifth book in the Ellery Hathaway series. It can most certainly be read as a standalone, but real fans of the series will want to read all of the books. Ellery was a kidnapping victim of a psychopathic serial killer, Francis Coben, when she was a young teen. She is also the only one who survived, thanks to her rescuer, FBI agent Reed Markham. Her past is inextricably wound around her survival and Reed, but she wants to escape her past completely and just be the Boston police detective that she currently is. That is easier said than done since in this book Coben insists on an audience with Ellery in order to release the locations of other bodies. His strange proclivities with his victims make the violence that is described graphic and very disturbing, so this book is not for the faint-hearted. It is fast-paced and written with characters that are convincingly realistic (in Coben’s case, horrifyingly so). Ellery is a strong female protagonist and Coben is the most evil serial killer since Hannibal. The plot is complicated but well-written in a way that made it totally engaging. The action was intense and scary at times, especially the more absorbed I got in the story of Ellery coming to grips with her past and seeking closure in her life. The tension mounted throughout the story, with flashbacks to Ellery’s time in captivity and all of the horror that evoked for her. Fans of hard core mystery and suspense thrillers want to devour this book as it takes a close look at the past and the future that Ellery wants to have.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from St. Martins Press (Minotaur) via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,  Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”
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The serial killer who held Ellery hostage as a teenager has requested a meeting with her in exchange for information on other victims. Now she and her former boyfriend, who happens to be the FBI agent who rescued her, have to find the escaped killer and a copy cat before the body count increases.  Last Seen Alive is an absolute page turner with one twist after another.   I loved the fast paced writing style.  The characters were very complex.   I highly recommend Last Seen Alive to mystery/thriller readers.  It was a fantastic book.
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Last Seen Alive(Ellery Hathaway #5)
by Joanna Schaffhausen

Boston detective Ellery Hathaway and FBI agent Reed Markham have a very long history. They met when Reed rescued fourteen year old Ellery from a serial killer who had tortured, mutilated, and slain over a dozen young women. Ellery's rescue put an end to Francis Cohen's reign of terror although he never left her mind and he never left her alone. In the last few years, Ellery and Reed have had a rocky relationship, as friends and lovers, never able to get out from under the weight of how they first met.

Now Cohen will give up the location of bodies if he can have a face to face meeting with Ellery. It's Reed who Cohen contacts and it's Reed who has to ask Ellery to do the last thing she'd ever want to in the presence of  the monster who overshadows everything in her life. Ellery says yes because she wants to bring closure to the families of the girls whose bodies have never been found.

The entire series is a dark one, the crimes as horrible as one can imagine. This book brings the story of Ellery Hathaway full circle. Despite seventeen years having passed since she was kidnapped and terrorized by Cohen, she's finally going to face her fears and all she has unsuccessfully tried to put behind her. Reed will be there for the journey, just as he's always been part of her story. He actually wrote her story, their story, becoming a best selling author in the process. Now there are people who want to make a documentary out of Ellery's meeting with Cohen and Ellery will be there only for the victims. 

But, then, there is a murder of a young women and it's definitely a copycat killing. Obviously Cohen has fans and friends who are helping him get his way from inside prison. Ellery's nightmare isn't over since the one thing that Cohen really wants is Ellery and to be able to finish what he started seventeen years ago. This is a fine addition to the Ellery Hathaway series as she faces all her memories and fears, and attempts to break free of the hold Cohen has had on her life. 

Thank you to St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books and NetGalley for this ARC.
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3.75 Serial Killer Stars

This is the 5th installment in this series featuring Ellery Hathaway, now a Boston police officer, but better known as the girl who survived serial killer Francis Coben. This book actually provides more details about the abduction and her rescue by FBI profiler Reed Markham.

Years later, Reed and Ellery have successfully teamed up on several cases and have even developed a romantic relationship.

This time Coben says he will tell them where to find one of the bodies if Ellery pays him a visit. Families of the missing girls and the media pressure Ellery. There’s even a film producer who wants to film the whole thing. Can Ellery do this without falling back into a victim mentality? Can they truly trust Coben to follow through on his side?

I found this one to be darker than the earlier books and there was more urgency to finally stop Coben. This one wrapped up in a satisfying way to me and I wonder if this might be the end of the Ellery Hathaway series.

This series has made for a good buddy read with Jayme and Marilyn. While it was nice to read them in a short period, I’m looking forward to reading other things by this author.
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Do you believe a serial killer can be reformed?
I personally don't think so.  Maybe if they had only committed one crime, but this is someone that commits heinous acts over and over.
And when you read about the crimes Francis Coben committed, it is hard to believe one would think any different about this sociopath.  Ellery Hathaway has the scars to prove it.

In book 5 in this series, Ellery reunited with the man who still haunts her dreams, as she is the only woman to survive this serial killer. (Note: I did not read the previous books in this series and had no issues following along, so this can be treated as a standalone).  Now a detective, she is brought in by a TV show host, Kate Hunter, to get Coben to reveal the locations of his other victims, and finally give the families some peace.  As you may expect, things go sideways fast.

There are a lot of twists in this story, as it is clear Coben may have some outside support/fans that have other things in mind than justice.  The pacing of the story is great, adding these twists throughout to keep me engaged and eager for resolution.

One thing is clear, Ellery is a badass and I'm eager to learn more about her character, so I think I need to circle back and read the previous books in this series.  Whether you want to start with book one or jump right into this book (see my note above), this is a great read if you enjoy police procedurals.
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3.5 ⭐️

This is book #5 in the popular Ellery Hathaway series but you can easily read this one as a stand-alone. In fact, not only does it fill you in on Ellery Hathaway’s history-it actually adds details as this story comes full circle from the first. 

The quick “spoiler free” recap is that Ellery Hathaway was just 14 years old when she became victim #17 of the notorious serial killer, Francis Michael Coben- a murderer with a “hand fetish” -but she was the only girl who survived. 

She was rescued by FBI profiler, Reed Markham, and she grew up to join the police force of Woodbury, MA. When she needed the resources of the FBI for a case, she called upon Reed Markham, who “owed her one” after he profited from writing a book about the case with his then wife, Sarit. 

They team up to solve cases in books one through four and their relationship develops over time. 

In book five, Coben has agreed to confess to the location of the remaining bodies-under one condition-an interview with Ellery.  When a fresh body is discovered which seems linked to Coben, despite the fact that he is serving a life sentence, she reluctantly agrees. 

Can she find closure of her own? And, what price will she have to pay to find it? 

This book was the darkest in the five book series, and we finally get inside the head of Coben, during the “Hannibal Lecter” style interview between Coben and Ellery. 

But, Ellery is no “Clarice”. 

She is a a woman who continues to have good instincts but makes bad choices. And, Reed is still trying to save her. 

I can understand why so many people enjoy “series”. When you pick up the next book, it’s like you are reuniting with old friends. And, this series has many fans, Unfortunately it has been a bit of a struggle for me as I don’t like romance mixed in with my police procedurals-especially not ones with “open door” scenes, and that is made worse by the fact, that the pairing of these two, is distasteful to me. Still other readers don’t seem bothered by either fact, and most seem to be rooting for the two of them, so mine is just one opinion. 

I am not sure if there will be be a book six-but I am closing my door on these two, whether there is or isn’t.

I would like to thank Minotaur books for the gifted copy provided through NetGalley. It was my pleasure to offer a candid review! 

Available January 25, 2022.
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In the four novels leading up to Joanna Schaffhausen's LAST SEEN ALIVE, Ellery Hathaway and Reed Markham were drawn together partly because he was the young FBI agent who found and rescued her from the quirky and vicious killer, Coben. It's the dead of winter, and Coben is back, or at least a cheap Coben imitator. A famed reality television crime reporter wants a part of the action. The FBI brings Ellery in to interview the torturer/killer from the safety of his prison quarters in Indiana hoping he will say something that will lead them to an unknown murderer who mimics Coben's work. It's been a while since Ellery and Reed have seen each other. She is surprised to discover that her chemistry with him is still there. This is an exciting addition to the series, which just keeps getting better. Every time I read one of Shaffhausen's books I find that it is better than the last one. In this novel, the author forces Ellery to dig even deeper into her reserves of trauma and survivor guilt to find that strong core. It's a wild ride, and one the reader won't soon forget. (Reviewer's note: this book is even better if you read its prequels in order.).
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Abby Ellery Hathaway is the only survivor of the sadistic serial killer, Francis Coben. Rescued from a closet by FBI agent Reed Markham. Seventeen years have passed, but Abby, now known as Ellery, relieves the nightmare every day.
This is the fifth book in this series, and unfortunately for Ellery, Francis is not done with her yet. Living on Death Row, he vows to talk about his victims whose remains were never found. He does have one small condition though; Abby must visit him, or he will die before sharing any information. Even the thought of being in the same room with her abductor makes Ellery feel ill, but she wants to do the right thing for the families whose girls never came home.
Francis has had a long time to make plans and assistance from someone outside his prison walls. He does not want much really, just to finish what he started with the one who got away. Ellery will have to be strong if she wants to live and no longer be his victim.
If you have not read the prior books, there is enough background information so you would not be lost. However, your understanding of Ellery and her relationship with Reed will be more developed if you read the series in order. Not a spoiler, but I felt that this might be the last book, just based on how it ended. 
There were plenty of twists and turns, along with some questionable decisions that had me yelling at Ellery, or, my Kindle more than once. A great series that really highlights what it means to be a victim and how hard it is to regain control over your life.
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3.5 stars, rounded up.
I’ve read another book by Joanna Schaffhausen, but none of the books in this series.  I didn’t find that a handicap and feel this can easily be read as a stand-alone.  
Ellery Hathaway is a Boston police detective.  As a child, she was abducted by a serial killer but rescued by FBI Agent Reed Markham.  They re-unite here when the serial killer offers up the locations of several missing dead girls if he can speak to her.  And to add to that, there’s a tv production going to do a documentary on the killer and film it all.  What could go wrong?  
I liked the points she makes about fame, coverage and the prevalence of “screen time” and how the media inserts itself into criminal investigations. 
I enjoyed Ellery and how we get to see how she has moved beyond her victim status.  Reed is also a well done main character and I just wanted those two to work out their issues.  
My problem was with the plot.  It quickly became filled with coincidences and plot devices you could see coming a mile away.  That said, the story is fast paced entertainment. 
This is far from a cozy mystery.   There are lots of graphic descriptions of violence.  
My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book.
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I liked books 2, 3, and 4 better than the first of the Ellery Hathaway series, and although I was glad to see Ellery and Reed Markham again in this latest book, I wasn't as enthusiastic as many readers.

Last Seen Alive returns to the earliest story when serial killer Frances Coben agrees to a television documentary.  The producers want Ellery to participate, and Coben says he will reveal where the remaining bodies are...if Ellery will be part of the program.

The two things that bothered me:  1) the concentration on the early brutal torture of Ellery (which is why the first book was not my favorite), and 2) although I don't believe the FBI is without faults, the agreement to go along with a sensationalized production and the subsequent FBI practices seemed so over-the-top and implausible that I was annoyed.  

I was disappointed in this fifth (and final? as some have suggested) book, but almost all other readers have given it 5 stars.  

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Thriller.  Jan. 25, 2022.  Print length:  350 pages.
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Interesting but not really my cup of tea. Well written I just personally couldn’t get into the story. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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f you’re looking for suspense, a truly delightful pair of protagonists, and a serial killer story that won’t leave you feeling tired of the same old tropes – Last Seen Alive is the book you’ve been looking for.

This book may be the fifth in the Ellery Hathaway series from Joanna Schaffhausen, but whether you’re an established reader or just discovering the series now, you’ll have no problem jumping right in. Naturally, as someone who has really enjoyed these books, I have to – and gladly do – advocate for starting from the first book – but the prologue here establishes enough background for newcomers.

Ellery Hathaway is the only survivor of a notorious serial killer, and has since worked on multiple cases with the FBI agent who rescued her from his clutches, Reed Markham. Last Seen Alive, though, begins with them apart; at least until it becomes clear that the same man whose monstrous nature first brought them together isn’t satisfied to stay in the past.

Taking a classic storyline, turning it on its head, and then writing it absolutely beautifully is no more than I should have expected from this author, but I was still blown away by just how good this book is. Joanna Schaffhausen has written the series in such a way that this feels like a natural climax; we know these characters, we know the story so far, and the events of this novel not only fit in to the story, but take it further and somehow take it to even further heights.
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It has been seventeen years since Abigail Ellery Hathaway was rescued by FBI Agent Reed Markham, and seventeen years since Francis Michael Coben, the infamous serial killer, was arrested.  Ellery is the only victim to have survived.  There have been lots of magazine and newspaper articles, movies, and books about Coben, including a bestseller by Reed.  Ellery has never spoken publicly about what she experienced; there was enough evidence that her testimony was not needed at Coben's trial.  However, that soon may change.  Coben has been languishing on death row for years, ruminating on the one that got away.  While the remains of sixteen of his victims have been found and identified, there are eight missing young women who are suspected victims of Coben, but for which there is no confirmation (and thus no finality for the families).  Or are there nine possible victims?  

Coben arranged to have a clump of dark hair sent to Reed, with a suggestion that it belonged to Tracy Trajan, one of his suspected victims.  He offered to reveal information about Tracy's remains, and possibly other missing girls, in exchange for an opportunity to see the one who got away.  Added to the mix is Kate Hunter, host of a popular TV program demanding justice for crime victims.  She has made arrangements to interview Coben in prison, bankrolled by Hollywood producer Ben Lerner, whose brother was murdered, with the killer still at large.  The FBI Director thinks the televised interview is a great opportunity for positive publicity for the FBI.

When Kate corners Reed to pitch her interview proposal, she reveals there is a ninth potential undiscovered victim -- Maxine Frazier.  Reed wants nothing to do with the TV interview and certainly does not want Ellery involved, but is obligated to inform Ellery of Coben's offer.  When he meets with Ellery, he mentions the ninth possible victim, and Ellery recognizes the name as a missing person case her partner had handled around five weeks ago, the same time frame as when Reed received the letter Coben arranged to have sent.  Coben cannot be responsible for the disappearance of Maxine Frazier, but he somehow knows or at least wants Reed and Ellery to think he knows something about her disappearance.

Coben will get his meeting with Ellery, but that will not be the end of the story, as Coben, with the assistance of supporters on the outside, will turn the tables on the FBI and the production crew, and attempt to obtain what he has long wanted -- a second chance at having Ellery all to himself.  How he achieves that will be left for readers to discover for themselves.  The story has plenty of plot twists -- some the reader will likely suspect and others that will be surprises. The author has created an eclectic group of supporting characters.  If "Last Seen Alive" is the final book in the Ellery Hathaway series (and it probably should be, considering the plot), it is a  fitting ending.

I received a copy of the e-book via NetGalley in exchange for a review.
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Last Seen Alive is the fifth in this series by Joanna Schaffausen. Boston detective Ellery Hathaway and FBI agent Reed Markham met seventeen years ago, when Ellery was fourteen. He saved her life when he found her in a closet, that serial killer Francis Coben had locked her in, after he had kidnapped her. Ellery was the only one of his victims to survive.  Now Coben is willing to give a local reporter a interview and tell the names of all his victims and where they can be found but only if Ellery agrees to be at the interview too and talks to him. This story kept me on the edge of my seat it is a thrilling series. Thanks to @St.Martin’sPress and Netgalley for my ARC.
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