Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Review & Excerpt: Vanishing Hour by Laura Griffin


Vanishing Hour by Laura Griffin
Publication Date: October 25th 2022 by Berkley & Dreamscape Media
Pages: 368
Audio Book Length: 9hrs 17min
Narrator: Julia Atwood
Source: Publishers
Rating: ½

My Thoughts:
Attorney Ava Burch finds herself embroiled in a cold missing person case when she stumbles upon an abandoned campsite during one of her Search and Rescue volunteer jobs with her dog, Huck. Something that immediately catches Detective Grant Wycoff’s attention. While the condescending Sheriff gives Ava the brushoff, Grant connects the dots to a woman gone missing two years earlier. While Grant doesn’t want Ava inserting herself into the case, he can’t help admitting that her find and research have helped make long strides in solving the case.

While trying to piece together the clues, Ava’s targeted by someone unknown and it’s unsettling, but she can’t let the case go as she finds there are bigger things at play.

Even though there’s a mutual attraction and pull, Ava’s hesitant. Seeing her mother always coming in second to the job makes her wary to start up anything with anyone in law enforcement, but she’s having trouble resisting him and they keep getting thrown together through this case. Grant is determined to change her mind and they have amazing chemistry!

I’ve done a lot of hiking and backpacking so I found the Search and Rescue feature really interesting and of course, if there’s a lovable dog I’m totally in!  Huck was adorable and smart, and I loved the relationship he had with Ava and Grant!

I was immediately sucked into Vanishing Hour and listened to the whole book in one day! All the twists had me eager to find out what happened to the missing girls, and I was on the edge of my seat with every bit of danger Ava faced. The ending was a real nail biter! Another win for Laura Griffin! Definite recommend!

I alternated between reading and listening to an audio copy. Julia Atwood’s performance was really good! She performed with a subtle Texas accent that felt authentic to all the characters and she performed both female and male character parts wonderfully! I listened at 1.5x speed normal speed.

4.5 Stars

Book Description:

When a cold case in Texas leads to a sinister string of disappearances, a newcomer to the small town helps the deputy sheriff to piece together the clues in this new romantic thriller from New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin.

Corporate lawyer Ava Burch has had enough of the big city and daily grind. She grew up with her father, who raised search-and-rescue dogs, in rural Texas, and has moved to the small town of Cuervo to spend time in the dry, rugged wilderness near Big Bend National Park. When she and her dog Huck discover an abandoned campsite on a volunteer search-and-rescue mission, she’s perplexed but she carefully photographs it all the same.

All Deputy Sheriff Grant Wycoff can see when he looks at Ava is a city slicker—with her designer jeans and expensive car— who has no business on a serious team made of seasoned outdoorsmen and retired cops. But when she tells him of her discovery on the trail, he sees there’s more to her than meets the eye.

Ava’s discovery reminds Grant of the unsolved case of a young woman who went missing two years ago. As they look into the campsite further, another woman disappears under odd circumstances. With time running out, Ava and Grant must work against the brutal heat from both the Texas sun and their own electric chemistry to solve the case.



Missing children are an emergency. Always. Their little bodies are less able to regulate temperature, so they're especially vulnerable to exposure. And in a place as vast and rugged as Silver Canyon State Park, additional hazards abounded: rattlesnakes, coyotes, hundred-foot cliffs. Even the anemic little creek that Ava had been following was terrifying. A child Noah's size could drown in a bathtub.

Ava glanced up at the relentless sun that sucked moisture out of everything beneath it. She looked ahead at Huck, who trotted back and forth in front of her in his zigzag pattern. He was working the wind, as he'd been trained, tirelessly sniffing the air with his powerful nose, which could pick up anything with human scent on it, from a candy wrapper to a dropped article of clothing.

So far, nothing.

Ava checked her watch. Two long hours since she'd left the trailhead. Sweat stung her eyes, and she wiped her forehead with the back of her arm. She paused beside a boulder and dropped her pack on the dusty ground to retrieve one of her water bottles. Huck needed some, too, but right now he was intent on his work.

She took a lukewarm sip and scanned the scrub brush lining the canyon wall. Young children had a tendency to wander aimlessly until they found a place to curl up for a nap. Some would even hide from search teams, afraid of getting in trouble for being lost. So Ava had been incessantly scanning pockets of brush.

Huck halted in front of her, his nose lifted in the air. Ava froze and watched. But then his head dropped down and he resumed his zigzags. Ava tucked the water bottle away and pushed off the boulder to continue her trek.

She watched Huck, amazed by his energy. Even in this heat, he loved working, and when he had his vest on, he didn't have an off switch. As he bounded around in front of her, she thought of the other teams, especially the canine one. She was surprised they hadn't found something close to camp.

Of course, the parents had been there, which might have been a problem. Frantic parents threw off a lot of scent, which could have overpowered Noah's smell and possibly confused the dog. Also, the temperature rising in the canyon could have wafted the scent up, well above the dog's nose. Yet another challenge here was that young children didn't throw off as much scent as adults. And still bodies-ones that were either asleep or unconscious-threw off less scent, too.

So there were all kinds of factors in play, especially in a park this size.

Ava checked her watch again and sped up her pace, unable to shake the feeling of dread that had been settling in her stomach as the hours ticked by. Scanning the canyon wall, her gaze caught on something beige and triangular.

A tent? No.

A tarp. She climbed onto a boulder for a closer look. About halfway up the slope of the canyon was a sand-colored canvas tarp that had been stretched taut to create a patch of shade. It looked like a primitive fort-just the sort of thing that would attract a kid's attention, and her pulse quickened as she climbed closer. Nearing the tarp, she spied a small yellow tent tucked in the shade beneath it.

She glanced around for Huck, but he was sniffing along at the base of a rockslide.

Grabbing hold of a juniper tree, Ava levered herself onto the ledge. She ducked under the tarp and paused a moment for her eyes to adjust. The little tent was unzipped. Hope ballooned in her chest as she pulled back the flap and poked her head inside.

Her hope disappeared as she scanned the interior. No sleeping child curled up in the dimness. The air was utterly still, and everything was coated with a thin layer of dust, as though no one had been there in weeks, maybe months. A pile of gear in the corner included a cookstove, a hiking boot, and a blue bedroll with a carabiner clipped to it. Attached to the carabiner was a black key fob.

A chill snaked down her spine. Who would leave their car key out here? The fob seemed odd. Ditto for the hiking boot. Where was the other one? And where was its owner?

On impulse, Ava took out her phone and snapped a couple of pictures. As part of her SAR training, she'd learned to document crime scenes. She couldn't pinpoint why, exactly, but that was what this felt like. She ducked out and snapped a shot of the exterior. A faint bark pulled her attention back to the mission. She couldn't afford to get sidetracked, even though this place felt creepy. She put her phone away as she skimmed the surrounding area for the missing boot, or any sign of the boot's owner. She glanced up the canyon, looking for evidence of a fire pit or any other camping equipment.

A soft whimper had her turning around.

Huck sat beside a rock pile, his ears pricked forward and his gaze fixed on hers. Ava's heart skittered. This was his sit alert letting her know he'd found something.

"Show me," she commanded, and he sprang into action, bounding across the creek bed. She climbed down the rocks and jogged after him, frantically searching the clumps of trees. Huck darted around a giant prickly pear cactus and behind a line of mesquite trees. Amid the fluttering green leaves, she caught a flash of red.

"Please, please, please," she murmured.

Huck disappeared beneath the brush and barked. Ava spied a small white sneaker and a pudgy leg.

Huck danced in a circle, drunk on success and eager for his reward.

"Good boy, Huck! Good boy! Good boy!" She filled her voice with praise, even though her heart had lodged in her throat. The little body wasn't moving. Oh God.

About the Author
Laura Griffin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty-five books and novellas. She is a two-time RITA Award winner, as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award.


  1. I was sold by "Search and Rescue" and the lovable dog, too! This sounds like a good read...plus, I really like Laura Griffin's books. :D

    1. Yes! It grabs the attention, right? I think you'd love this one too, Lark!

  2. When you can listen to an audiobook in one day, that means its SUPER great! I am glad that this one was such a win for you. Search and Rescue is so fun and I really like how this author writes it.

    Great review!

    1. Yes, that is really a testament to how good the book is! We couldn't stop listening/reading. :)

  3. Wonderful review! We're review twins and rating twins. I really loved this one.

    Anne - Books of My Heart

  4. Looks interesting. I want to read it. Thanks for your review. Have a good day :)

  5. Nice excerpt and review. I love that it's set in Big Bend National Park, it's a park I've been wanting to visit for a while... but I don't want to end up like the victim!

    1. It does sound like a neat park, but maybe I'd want to visit in the spring or fall. Sounds really hot in the summer!

  6. I giggled when you mentioned the dog as a plus because I perked up when I was reading your review and saw there a dog. HA! A one day listen is impressive too. Even at 1.5X, 368 pages is a decent length audiobook.

  7. Wow, a one day read tells me this one was almost impossible to put down. I can understand Ava's hesitation to get involved with a cop, but it sounds like Grant was going to pursue her into giving him a chance. :)

  8. That does sound good, I'm glad you liked it.

  9. The Search and Rescue and dog angle are big appeals for me, too. I've got this one on the list to read.

  10. I hope to pick this one up soon. Great review you have here.

  11. This sounds so good! I really need to read more of her work.

  12. I've seen so many positive reviews about Vanishing Hour. Good to know you thought the audiobook was great!

  13. In a day!! Wow, I want one like that

  14. Great review, Rachel. I love books with rescue and service dogs, so this is right up my alley. I also have the audiobook, so maybe I will listen to it while I am on the road over the next three days driving to my daughter's.

  15. Wonderful review. She takes the time to develop her characters which only makes them feel more genuine.