Thursday, April 5, 2018

Book Review: "The Child Finder" by Rene Denfield

The Child Finder Rene Denfield
Date Finished: March 8, 2018
Date Published: September 5, 2017
ISBN: 9780062659071
Genre: Mystery
Source: Personal Copy (Book Club)
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Darker mysteries, novels about self-discovery

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?

My Thoughts:
I feel like I should start this review with a three disclaimers.  First off, I am writing this review after discussing this book with my book group--I only mention this because my thoughts here have been distilled and discussed and aren't my initial reaction to the book (not that my feelings about the book changed).  Secondly, this is a book set in Oregon--which means setting is a big deal to me.  How the setting is portrayed probably impacts how I feel about other areas of the book.  Finally, because this is a mystery, I have to talk about it without talking about it.  I went into this book really only knowing the summary and I don't want to ruin any of it for anyone else.

Now that we have that out of the way, I can say that I was very pleasantly surprised by this book.  Child abduction (and other icky things that are frequently part of child abduction) is not fun to read about and it is a subject that affects me great a deal as a parent of young children. This book was interesting in that it didn't shy away from the more difficult issues, but also portrayed them in a way that didn't lessen their seriousness, but still kept it readable.

I attribute this to Denfield's writing.  Her prose is absolutely poetic, even when she's talking about the most horrible of things.  She also does some very interesting things with the characters--I can't go into it in great detail because, again, discovering it is part of the joy of reading the novel.  I will just leave it by staying nearly every character in this book will stay with you long after you read the last page.

So, the Oregon's set in an area of Oregon that I've visited several times, although not recently.  Still I remember enough to know what it is like in reality and Denfield hits it right on the nose.  This isn't your generic Oregon setting and Denfield is careful to highlight what is unique about it, not just in description but also in plot.

The story kept me on my toes the entire time, although I agree with some of my fellow book club members that the end tied up just a tad too cleanly.  However, the ending also leaves open the door for a sequel that could potentially be even more fascinating than this book, so I'm will to forgive the too clean ending on that count.

I know a book about child abduction may not appeal to everyone, but the writing and story truly makes this book worthwhile.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a beautiful and serious mystery.

I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.

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