This book is beautiful and disquieting and I tried — I really tried — to savor it, but instead I devoured it in one sitting like a fool. Denfeld has a gift, and it’s more than a way with words. It’s an ability to root beauty out of dark recesses. To explore moral reprehensibility with compassion. To make the reader cringe and marvel in equal measure, and consume in hours a book they’d intended to ration out over days. I’ve honestly never encountered anything quite like it. It makes her books tricky to recommend — “Just trust me! You’ll love it!” — but I do so wholeheartedly and happily and all the time. Recommended By Tove H., Powells.com
Denfeld's masterful weaving of this beautiful tale moved me deeply, enveloped me in its arms and didn't let me go. Madison Culver won my heart! Recommended By Adrienne C., Powells.com
In Rene Denfeld’s second gorgeous novel, 5-year-old Madison disappears when her family travels to the Skookum National Forest to cut down a Christmas tree — one quick dash into the woods and she is gone without a trace. Naomi is an investigator who has an odd knack for finding lost children, having once been a lost child herself. Piecing together the missing information on this three-year-old case, Naomi may be in for more than she imagined.
Denfeld has the ability to tap the ocean of emotion inside her, and uses her spare, delicate prose, with grace and surgical precision, to deliver this stunning story. Addressing themes of home, child abuse, memory, survival, fear of intimacy, and the necessity of stories, The Child Finder is absolutely glorious. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Rene Denfeld has always won huge support from my fellow booksellers, but this was my first time reading her. Wow! What took me so long? I really loved this tale of children lost and found. It's set in the PNW and is atmospheric, beautiful, and haunting. Recommended By Kathi K., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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 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)
“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
“It’s Deliverance encased in ice…Denfeld’s novel is indeed loaded with suspense, its resonance comes from its surprising tilt towards storytelling restraint, a rarity in this typical crackling genre. Elegiac, informative and disquieting…The novel gallops to a suitably heart-racing finish.” New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Rene Denfeld is an internationally bestselling author, journalist, and licensed investigator specializing in death penalty work. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is also the author of the award-winning novel The Enchanted as well as three works of nonfiction.