Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Fiction Review: The Child Finder

After hearing rave reviews since its 2017 release, including from my husband, I finally read The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld last month for my annual dark and creepy reading season and the RIP XIV Challenge. Now I understand what all the fuss is about! This unique novel is a suspenseful, fast-paced mystery but with emotional depth and thoughtful prose.

Naomi is a private investigator who specializes in finding missing children, so Mr. and Mrs. Culver call her in desperation to look for their daughter, Madison. She disappeared without a trace from the dense Skookum National Forest in Oregon while the family was looking for a Christmas tree. The biggest problem? Madison disappeared three years ago, when she was just eight years old, so the trail and the case are as cold as the frozen Oregon mountains. Naomi sets out to investigate, leaving no stone unturned and no person unsuspected. This case, like many of them she has been involved in, brings back memories of her own past. Naomi herself was a lost little girl whose life--and memories--began with her escape from her mysterious captors. Now, as she walks through the Oregon forests and follows clues to find out what happened to Madison, nightmares from her own escape haunt her nights and begin to bring back long-lost memories. Naomi is very good at what she does, but she never knows if the child she finds will still be alive or not. The reader, though, knows that Madison is still alive because parts of the novel are narrated by her, recounting her experiences through her own eyes from her disappearance three years ago to the present.

These differing perspectives woven through the story are part of what makes this novel such a unique thriller. We follow the investigator as she tries to unravel the mystery of Madison's disappearance, but we also get the first-hand perspectives of the little girl being held captive and even of her captor. In this way, the author provides insights into how the little girl copes with her captivity (imagination and fairy tales play a large role) and how her captor came to be a child predator, as well as Naomi's perspective as both investigator and past victim. It's an intricate and engrossing web that immediately pulled me in and kept me captivated. The mystery/suspense aspects are excellent as well, in the isolated setting of the snowy forest, as Naomi uncovers scattered clues (that everyone else missed). The author kept me guessing and suspecting one person after another. The Child Finder is a very satisfying read on several levels, providing in-depth characters, complex emotions, and a thoughtful and twisty plot. I can't wait to read the sequel, The Butterfly Girl, which was just released on October 1, and get to know Naomi even better.

272 pages, Harper Perennial

Listen to a sampleof the audio book here, from the first chapter where Naomi meets the Culvers, and/or download it from Audible. It sounds excellent on audio!

You can purchase The Child Finder from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
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Or you can order The Child Finder from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. Hm... I think my husband would like this. Thanks!

    1. Really well-written - a cut above most thrillers! Hope your husband enjoys it.

  2. Books about young people being held captive are difficult for me to read. I am always afraid there will be a sexual assault or horrible other abuse.

    1. Same here, Helen, which is probably why I put it off as long as I did. And there IS abuse here, but it's told from the little girl's perspective, and she copes by making up fairy tales and thinking of herself as The Snow Girl, so that lessens the power of the abuse - for her and for the reader. Nothing graphic.