Naomi finds children for a living. Unlike law enforcement and most private detectives, missing children cases are the only ones she takes on. She is also unique in that she takes on cases other private detectives consider hopeless.
Naomi’s main case in Rene Denfeld’s Child Finder involves the disappearance of a young girl named Madison. She went with her parents into an Oregon forest to pick out a Christmas tree and has been missing since. Naomi is at first intimidated by the vast Oregon forest that might hold a living, or dead, Madison, but she soon makes progress by buddying up to some of the locals and researching what family owned, or in some cases still owns, the land claims.
Naomi also has a personal investment in her work, as she was a lost child herself. Her first memories are of a group of migrants leaving her at a police station. The town’s sheriff took her to stay with a local woman who took in foster children, and she grew up at the woman’s, Mrs. Cottle’s, home. Naomi has no memories prior to her arrival at the police station, with the exception of a recurring dream that might tell her something about her past.
There is a suspense element to Child Finder, but there is a lot more to the book than Naomi’s search for Madison. Denfeld shifts the point of view from Naomi to several other characters, although I will not go into any more detail about who in order to avoid spoiling things. Denfeld also creates great characters from Naomi down to the cantankerous owner of a general store. This is a brilliant book. Child Finder is that rare mix of great characters and a great plot.