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The Child Finder

The Child Finder
Rene Denfeld
Harper, 2017
Source: E-Galley
Audience: Adults, Older Teens

From Goodreads:
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?

I loved The Child Finder. It’s perfect for adult reluctant readers because it’s short and the story moves along quickly. Denfeld was great at describing the scenery and tying everything together. However, I didn’t feel like I understood the main character well. I think that Naomi was a complex person, but her complexity didn’t come through in the novel. Perhaps that was because the author didn’t understand her well either, or because it wasn’t written in first person. Regardless, Naomi wasn’t what I was expecting (in a good way). I liked how she wasn’t a cliche of tough or nurturing - that she could be both. Personally, Naomi just felt a little underdeveloped, maybe because I was so absorbed in the mystery. If we’re lucky, Denfeld will write a sequel and we’ll get to know Naomi better. I really do think that there’s potential for a series, especially with how the book ended. Fingers crossed!