novels

Vanishing Girls

Book 3 in the Karin Schaeffer series

Vanishing Girls - a book by Katia Lief

Mac is down with the flu when his best friend Detective Billy Staples sends him a text message that is a plea for help. But Mac is too sick to move. Karin goes instead, meeting Billy at midnight on a dark, deserted Brooklyn street where Billy has been called out on a case.

After easing Billy out of a flashback signaling his descent into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Karin discovers that there are not one but two crime scenes. An eleven-year-old girl, Abby, has barely survived an encounter with a hit and run driver. One block away, a prostitute has been found murdered—with a knife left embedded between her breasts, the signature of "The Working Girl Killer" who terrorized Manhattan for two years before arriving in Brooklyn a year ago. Billy has been one of the detectives working that case.

The next day, another brutal murder is discovered nearby. A media firestorm ignites in the quiet neighborhood where Karin and Mac have settled down with their young son Ben. Karin, distraught over her recent miscarriage of a baby girl, throws herself into the case with Billy as they seek to understand whether the two crimes are connected or just a nightmarish coincidence. Abby is the link, and the only potential witness, but once she emerges from a medically induced coma she can't, or won't, talk. Having learned about PTSD from Billy's worsening condition, Karin begins to suspect that Abby may also be suffering from the disorder as a result, perhaps, of having witnessed her parents' murders.

But the truth is not that simple.

As Karin, Mac and Billy dig deeper beneath the surface of the crimes, shadows of suspicion appear where least expected. And Karin, with an unexpectedly acquired twelve-year-old adopted daughter, Dathi, suddenly expanding and enriching her family, finds herself in the fight of her life to save two preteen girls—Abby and Dathi—from a treacherous web that had spun itself unseen into a fabric of international human trafficking that must now be unraveled before more innocent lives are destroyed.

Read the first chapters

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Praise

"Lief brings back Karin Schaeffer for a third turn in her latest book set on the streets of New York City, and this time she enters the world of a brutal serial killer. Intense and suspenseful, with a strong, vulnerable heroine and an intriguing plot, this one will keep readers guessing. A riveting read."
   —Melanie Bates, RT Reviews (read the full review)

"Vanishing Girls is about murder, but mainly, it's the story of a haunted woman determined to get to the heart of secrets of a most heinous sort. Three books into the series featuring Karin Schaeffer, author Katia Lief is still exploring the life of a woman shattered by death and still coming to grips with her pain, while providing her readers with cases that are never quite what they seem. Readers of thoughtful mystery will surely enjoy this series."
   —Kristin Centorcelli, Criminal Element (read the full review)

"Vanishing Girls is powerful, provocative, and pulsating with verve; it also marks an evolution of character and circumstance that should serve the series well in future installments. Further, Karin Schaeffer is both complex and compelling, and arguably one of the strongest female figures in contemporary crime fiction—and her absolute strength of will is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit."
   —John Valeri, Hartford Books Examiner (read the full review)

"As with her first book [Vanishing Girls] is another fluid and pacy read, read over two days the story flows unhindered with a heady mix of intelligently placed characters and a well-structured plot.... [In] a rollercoaster of a finish Lief ties the story incredibly well and does a magnificent job of good old fashioned storytelling and giving us a few well-placed red herrings along the way. I have to confess I could happily read Katia Lief novels all day long, there's something comforting and relaxing about them—despite the grim and deadly threads—but they are so easy to read it makes reading enjoyable, you just lose yourself. Add a good tale to the mix I guess you can't ask for much more in a book."
   —Milo's Rambles (read the full review)