Genre: Mystery, Thriller
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?
Trigger warning: rape
I went into The Child Finder expecting a typical thriller/mystery about a woman experienced in finding missing children. Instead, The Child Finder is an expertly told story about resilience, perseverance, and love.
Told though multiple perspectives, The Child Finder focuses on The Child Finder herself, Naomi, as she accepts a case close to home. Madison’s case had gone cold years ago, yet Naomi is undeterred. While the missing child is the catalyst of the novel, it sometimes takes a backseat to Naomi’s development as a character and dives deep into her motivations. Naomi is the driving force of the novel.
The reader is also treated to Madison and her captor’s perspectives. In order to deal with the trauma of being kidnapped at a young age, Madison is forced to retreat within her mind where she’s created a new narrative for herself. The reader is forced to endure her hardships that are hard to read yet expertly delivered.
The Child Finder is not for the faint of heart. As the title implies, trauma to children are at the forefront of the novel. If you cannot handle those kinds of crimes, this novel is not for you. Denfeld does not shy away from the realities of these situations, but is able to tell them in a more poetic light. This by no means lessens the horrors because if anything it exposes them further. It isn’t often that a novel is able to affect me in any way beyond initial shock, so I was surprised when Denfeld elicited heartfelt sadness from me multiple times. A few moments shook me to my core and I will not able to shake them anytime soon.
Overall, The Child Finder is an excellent novel in a genre that seems to be saturated with mediocre novels. The Child Finder stands above the rest with the likes of Gillian Flynn and Karin Slaughter.
Have you read The Child Finder? What did you think?