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The Child Finder: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 5, 2017
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“In the necessary and uncomfortable places where Rene Denfeld locates her haunting fiction, the lines between victim and perpetrator can be painfully blurry…. Giving voice to those who are metaphorically or even literally voiceless, Rene Denfeld reminds us that consequences continue, aftermath continues — yet we must somehow find ways of holding on to threads of hard-won hope.” (Elizabeth Rosner, San Francisco Chronicle)
“At times haunting, at times devastating.... Captivating read.” (Bustle)
“A chillingly good read that will stay with you long after you close the book.” (BookPage)
“Gut-wrenching, its compassion goes a long way toward healing readers’ aching hearts.” (Shelf Awareness)
“It’s stunning. From the first page... we are in a strange, forbidding territory.... I couldn’t put this book down.” (The Globe and Mail)
“A hauntingly beautiful, chilling novel by a real-life badass heroine… Denfeld brings [her protagonist] to life with precise, lyrical prose. While the whole book reads like a fairytale for adults, Naomi herself is fully realized and deeply human.” (CrimeReads)
“A glittering gem of a story—part mystery, part fairy tale, and all white-knuckled, edge-of-your-seat thriller… readers will be drawn in by Denfeld’s lyrical prose and undone by the brutal reality that Naomi uncovers, just beneath the snowy forest floor.” (Library Journal, starred review)
“Aptly unclassifiable, Denfeld’s compulsively readable second novel calls on elements of horror, mystery, fairy tales, and even romance to explore legacies of violence and the resilience of the most vulnerable among us.” (Booklist)
“Intense.... Innovative... Heartbreaking, surprising.... The conclusion will leave readers breathless.” (Publishers Weekly)
From the Back Cover
“This is something I know: no matter how far you have run, no matter how long you have been lost, it is never too late to be found.”
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, 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 the Culvers’ 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, too, was a lost girl.
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, deeply atmospheric, and exquisitely rendered literary page-turner.
- Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
- ISBN-10 : 0062659057
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062659057
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.97 x 8.25 inches
- Publisher : Harper; First Edition (September 5, 2017)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #141,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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An interesting mystery/thriller about a woman named Naomi who specializes in finding missing children. She takes on 2 cases simultaneously - one is a child that has been missing for 3 years, and the other is a child recently missing where the mother has been arrested. While searching for these 2 children, Naomi wrestles with her own childhood trauma and with accepting her present.
The child finder has had quite a success rate in the searches for missing, presumably taken, children she has undertaken; and, as a result, she has a growing list of pleading requests from distraught parents begging for her help. She is more successful than law enforcement because of her empathy for the child, the dedication she brings to the search--devoting month after month to the single task-- and her ability (pardon the cliche) to think outside the box. This book is not critical of law enforcement. The example we are given is entirely admirable. But how often is law enforcement allowed to concentrate month after month on a single case? But she will. The book mentions one of her previous successes, the finding of a boy who had been missing for eight years. Only she, of all the law enforcement who have looked for the child, thinks to consult the original blueprints of the school where he was last seen. This is pretty much a definition of thinking outside the box. In the current case she alone among searchers finds the original land grants in the neighborhood of where the child disappears, and she along searches out each of those old, original sites for a place in which a child could be hidden. An earlier reviewer suggested that she had some unexplained arcane ability that explained her success. I disagree; it is an unending patience and a willingness to keep on keeping on which explain her success.
This book obviously tackles very ugly topics--pedophilia and its victims, the victim who grows into a predator himself because he has simply never learned any other way of acting--but it does so with tact; there are no brutal and sickening scenes of child rape here. This is an author who believes her readers know what happens when a sexual predator takes a child. But above all, this is a story of those who survive; and the reader can share in the enormous accomplishment, especially considering the magnitude of what they have survived.
One thought I'd like to add: A previous reviewer found the book poorly written. I disagree entirely. The two examples that person quotes are thoughts taken from a person's mind. I think that very few people monitor their thoughts for grammatical accuracy, and I found both examples utterly realistic in term of what a person in that situation might think.
Be that as it may, I thought this a very fine book that I'd recommend to adults without hesitation.
No. in Series: stand alone
Strong language: no
Sexual language or actions: nothing overt; referenced as background and child abuse
Age Suggestion: young adult
Special warning: child abuse, both referred to and actively happening
Naomi, the child finder, remembers only flashback bits of her life before being taken in by a migrant group and brought to the Sheriff. She remembers running, but thinks there is something else, something so important it drives her as an adult to wander, constantly looking for it.
She becomes an investigator in her 20's, demonstrating an affinity for finding missing children. Some are alive, some alive but so traumatized they may never become functional adults, some dead and some never found. She is a sympathetic character; easy to relate to and characterized by a sturdy, steady personality who can be brutally honest when needed.
She has two cases in the same town, and against her usual work method she agrees to take on both; the primary case a 5 year old lost in the snowy forest of Oregon for three years, and secondary a newborn missing for a month.
The story intersperses her memories of foster care and the boy who shared her placement with the present day actions. These tiny memories do not interrupt the flow of the story and provide glimpses of other cases and how she grew up.
Madison, the 5 year old missing for three years has been rescued by a high mountain trapper and is being held in an underground cellar in his ramshackle house. Confused by being lost and then found, she reinvents herself as "snow girl" and tells stories about a little girl named Madison.
The story is almost gentle; no horrific, tortured children missing and then found. She gives gentle advice to parents, urging them to think of their marriage. She keeps in loose contact with children she has found, reminding them to not forget their ordeals and instead embracing the strength that kept them going.
The ending is satisfactory with room for another book if desired. All in all a strong, quiet book about horrific actions.
Top reviews from other countries
This is a novel that gets under your skin and steals a place in your heart and head, and one that I will come back to again and again. It is a novel of untold horrors (indeed, they are mostly untold, Naomi does not remember what happened to her and the snow child escapes into her imagination to cope with her incarceration) and cruelty, but also hope, resilience and forgiveness.
The writing is lyrical and concise and have a strange fairy tale quality that really appeals to me. The depth and layers in this book are intricate and absorbing. Yes it is a story about a person who finds missing children, but it is also a story illuminating the power of the imagination, the horror of victim turned perpetrator, the growth of a human soul, the power of love and so much more.
I would urge anyone to read this book, and my thanks go to the publishers and net galley for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.
The Child Finder is a relentlessly dark read with a brooding atmosphere to match. I can’t honestly say I enjoyed reading it. I squirmed with discomfort on numerous occasions and felt quite relieved to get to the end! It is well written and Naomi is an interesting character whose own story could be further developed. Not my favourite read of 2018 but interesting all the same.
Despite the sadness or horror of what people can do this book highlights the goodness. Shines the light on hope!