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The Child Finder
Cover of The Child Finder
The Child Finder

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.

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.

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About the Author-
  • Rene Denfeld is an author, journalist, and death penalty investigator. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and is the author of four nonfiction books. The Enchanted received the Prix du Premier Roman Étranger in France.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 17, 2017
    An investigator seeks missing children in the remote reaches of an Oregon forest in this intense novel by Denfeld (The Enchanted). Private investigator Naomi cannot remember anything in her life before running in terror through a dark strawberry field as a child. Now in her late 20s, the titular “child finder” carries the burdens of a solitary career finding missing children. Her newest case—the disappearance of five-year-old Madison Culver three years ago somewhere in a glacier-studded national forest in rural Oregon—collides with a time of sickness and loneliness within her little remaining family. Her foster brother, Jerome, who suffers from a war injury, must care for the woman who raised them, Mrs. Cottle, while Naomi works. As Naomi follows clues, her lucid dreams become clearer, and the voice of an unnamed child tells her own story as the search for Madison unfolds. Using multiple voices, Denfeld takes an innovative approach to dealing with the pain of trauma, taking moments of darkness and frailty and probing them in heartbreaking, surprising ways. Naomi is a broken but ethical protagonist who always holds out hope: for the children yet to be found, the adults searching for missing loved ones, and herself as she tries to overcome past traumas. The conclusion will leave readers breathless.

  • Library Journal

    April 15, 2017

    Investigator Naomi is especially good at locating lost children because once upon a time she was lost herself. Now she's after Madison Culver, who vanished three years ago in Oregon's Skookum National Forest. Her search brings up bits and pieces of memory that promise to deliver something dark if they ever coalesce. Big in-house love; Denfeld's The Enchanted was an ALA Notable Book of the Year.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2017
    A gifted investigator combs Oregon's snowy mountain forests for a missing girl.Naomi Cottle is a child finder. Grieving families call on her when their children go missing, and she devotes her entire life to finding them, sometimes dead and sometimes miraculously alive. Like many literary detectives, her personal life suffers for her single-mindedness: she has few friends and remains in only intermittent contact with her foster family. In her latest case, she's been asked to find a girl named Madison Culver, who went missing three years ago, at the age of 5. Although the locals assume Madison froze to death, Naomi, propelled by her own vague early memories of being held hostage as a child, is determined to locate the girl. At the same time Naomi searches for clues in Madison's disappearance, readers are privy to Madison's narrative as she's locked in a cellar with a man she knows only as B. With nothing but her daydreams and memories of fairy tales to keep her sane, Madison reinvents herself as the snow girl and wonders whether the life she once had is gone forever. Aside from a clumsy subplot about Naomi searching for a baby from an impoverished community, Denfeld (The Enchanted, 2014, etc.) keeps the pacing quick as readers rush to discover Madison's fate. While Denfeld's message is meant to be redemptive--no loved child will ever be forgotten--make no mistake: this is also a book that is frankly about the sexual abuse of children. And though Denfeld is no doubt trying to explore the psychological realities of this abuse, and of conditions like Stockholm syndrome, her tendency toward florid writing can make her depiction feel romanticized and takes the book at times from disquieting into downright unpalatable. Denfeld's intentions are good, but her tone strikes the wrong notes.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publishers Weekly "Intense.... Innovative... Heartbreaking, surprising.... The conclusion will leave readers breathless."
  • A.M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven "A darkly luminous story of resilience and the deeply human instinct for survival, for love. Blending the magical thinking of childhood, of fairy tales, dreams, memories and nightmares, The Child Finder is a terrifying and ultimately uplifting novel that demands to be consumed and then once inside you–lingers...."
  • Erin Morgenstern, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus "Rene Denfeld has a gift for shining bright light in dark places. The Child Finder is a gorgeous, haunting gem of a novel. Raw and real yet wrapped in a fairy tale, as lovely and as chilling as the snow."
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