cover image The Child Finder

The Child Finder

Rene Denfeld. Harper, $25.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-265905-7

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. (Sept.)