cover image The Butterfly Girl

The Butterfly Girl

Rene Denfeld. Harper, $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-269816-2

Thirty-year-old private investigator Naomi Cottle returns in Denfeld’s gripping follow-up to 2017’s The Child Finder, continuing her search for the sister she left behind when she fled captivity as a child. It won’t be easy: Naomi remembers nothing of the time before or during her captivity, not even her sister’s name. A series of recent murders of street kids has piqued her interest, and during her investigation in Portland, Ore., Naomi meets 12-year-old Celia, who is living on the streets after her stepfather was acquitted for sexually molesting her; Celia is terrified that he’ll do the same to her little sister, Alyssa. Celia finds solace in the butterflies that live in her vivid imagination, in her friendship with fellow street kid Rich, and eventually, in Naomi, whose harrowing search—to which Celia may hold the key—leads to a predator who targets society’s most vulnerable. Denfeld depicts the bleak lives of street kids in heart-wrenching detail; the realities of homelessness are rendered in stark language, a striking juxtaposition against Celia’s fantasy world. Denfeld emphasizes throughout that even where there is horror, there is still hope, a theme borne out in the bittersweet conclusion. Readers will be enthralled.[em] (Oct.) [/em]