The Child Finder, Rene Denfeld’s second novel and her most personal to date, is a harrowing story about a young girl living in captivity and the one woman who could possibly find her and bring her home. Naomi Cottle, the titular heroine, has a knack for locating missing children. She’s found 30 of them—but not all of them alive.
Her latest case brings her to the chilling remoteness of Oregon’s mountainous Skookum National Forest, where three years earlier, Madison Culver went missing at the age of 5 while looking for a Christmas tree with her family. Previous search-and-rescue attempts have all failed, largely due to the vast terrain and ice-cold temperatures. But Naomi is not one to give up, and as her investigation proceeds, she believes that Madison’s disappearance can only be the result of an abduction.
Naomi’s personal journey from foster child to adulthood parallels her search for Madison. As Naomi’s fears and sources of determination come to light, the narrative also dips into Madison’s mind, allowing readers to experience her terrifying ordeal at the hands of her captor, known only as Mr. B. Both narratives are expertly intertwined into a deeply moving story of survival and hope.
Denfeld writes in part from personal experience. Her stepfather was a sexual predator, and she has adopted three kids from foster care. She’s worked as a death penalty investigator and brings depth and understanding to the victims of such crimes as well as the perpetrators.
The Child Finder is a chillingly good read that will stay with you long after you close the book.