Title: The Child Finder
Author: Rene Denfeld
Genre: Mystery Thriller
What’s it About: Naomi works as a private investigator finding missing children, calling that comes as the result of her own dark and unknown past. She picks up the case of a missing child by the name of Madison Culiver, who has been gone for three years after a trip with her parents into the woods for a Christmas tree.
As Naomi investigates Madison’s case, along with a second case involving an Autistic woman named Danita, whose baby went missing recently, her past catches up with her in the form of nightmares. Her investigation takes her into the wilds of the Skookum park in Oregon, where she encounters friendship in the locals, but also faces her fear of falling in love with Jerome, her foster brother, with whom she grew up after she was discovered by a group of migrants. Naomi learnt to love thanks to her foster mother, Mrs. Mary Cottle, but she never uncovered the secrets of her past, and when Mrs. Cottle passes away, Naomi and Jerome attempt to a relationship, even though Naomi is terrified.
In the meantime, the snow girl spends time with Mr. B, who she believes is her creator. She draws animals and a whole world in the mud of her basement room, where she gets locked by Mr. B every time he leaves. The man never answer her, getting angry at her attempting to speak, but slowly and surely, they develop a certain level of trust and comfort with each other, in which Mr. B allows the snow girl free roam in the area that he can watch, and ultimately teaches her how to trap and hunt as well.
Naomi finds Mr. B, who attempts to trap her and the local sheriff. She finds the cabin, which used to be owned by a man who 50 years prior had molested children, and finds Madison inside the Cabin. Namoi has no choice but to kill Mr. B, who actually is Billy Owens, a deaf boy that was kidnapped at the age of seven by the man in the cabin. She returns Madison to her parents, and the family moves to Canada to escape the media.
My Verdict: The book has an intriguing concept of a woman who escaped captivity, learned safety, and who works finding children as a way to atone for her past, even though she doesn’t know exactly what it is that she is atoning for. Obviously, from the outset of the book, when the story of the Snow Girl came to play, it was obvious that Naomi was going to find the child alive, so more than anything the purpose of the book is to give background information on Naomi, the town, and Madison, rather than showing Naomi investigating Madison’s disappearance. In that sense, it loses that mystery and the thriller aspect of the genre, so I’m not really sure why it’s classified as such.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of switching perspectives within the same chapter, or the stream-of-consciousness form of story telling, which this book has in abundance. It makes the story-telling seem jittery, skipping around from various character’s heads, who may not even have anything in common. This book does it a bit better than others I’ve seen; however, it is still hard to keep up with the changing perspectives, forcing the reader to try to remember where they last left off that particular character. This book is disjointed in that way, bringing a chaotic feel to it, but at the same time once you get a hang of it, it’s well told as an overall package.
That said, I wouldn’t recommend reading this book unless you are ready (and willing) to tackle the challenge of these various perspectives at the same time.