Title: The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
A haunting, richly atmospheric, and deeply suspenseful novel from the acclaimed author of The Enchanted about an investigator who must use her unique insights to find a missing little girl.
“Where are you, Madison Culver? Flying with the angels, a silver speck on a wing? Are you dreaming, buried under snow? Or—is it possible—you are still alive?”
Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight-years-old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as “the Child Finder,” Naomi is their last hope.
Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl, too.
As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?
Told in the alternating voices of Naomi and a deeply imaginative child, The Child Finder is a breathtaking, exquisitely rendered literary page-turner about redemption, the line between reality and memories and dreams, and the human capacity to survive.
The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld is a fast-paced and compelling mystery with a unique protagonist and an intriguing premise.
Naomi is a private investigator who specializes in searching for missing children. Her latest case takes her to the snow-laden Oregon mountains where she is searching for Madison Culver, a young girl who went missing three years earlier. Despite the passage of time, Naomi is working off the assumption that Madison is still alive and she quickly embarks on a systematic and in depth investigation that she hopes will lead her to the missing girl.
Due to her personal history, Naomi is compelled to help the loved ones whose children have gone missing. She works with a single-minded focus as she attempts to uncover evidence that will hopefully lead her to the truth about the children she is searching for. Naomi is a very personable young woman but she finds it difficult to let people into her life. She is somewhat closed off and she is quite reluctant to trust anyone. Naomi distances herself physically and emotionally from almost everyone in her life.
Naomi’s investigation into Madison’s disappearance is thorough and she does not hesitate to follow every piece of information she uncovers. She is somewhat reckless as she travels to remote locations without giving any thought to her personal safety. Naomi has no qualms about confronting the trappers who have unconventional lives and are naturally suspicious of everyone outside of their trusted circle. Despite the harsh weather and unforgiving mountainous terrain, Naomi continues her search for Madison after she discovers troubling information about someone in the distant past.
In addition to the investigation into Madison’s disappearance, Naomi is beginning to remember bits and pieces about her own fractured past. Up to this point, she has very few concrete recollections of her time in captivity. However, the fragmented pieces from her traumatic past are finally beginning to fall into place, and Naomi hopes she will now find the answers to the questions that have long haunted her.
The Child Finder is an engrossing mystery that delves into somewhat dark subject matter. Rene Denfeld deftly broaches these difficult topics with sensitivity but please be aware there are some chapters which are graphic yet integral to the storyline. I highly recommend this sometimes heartbreaking yet ultimately redemptive novel to fans of the genre.