The Child Finder

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld is an adult suspense novel about a woman whose job it is to locate missing children–dead or alive.

Madison Culver disappeared three years ago–she would be eight now, if she survived. Gone without out a trace in the mountains of Oregon’s Skookum National Forest, very few believe she could possibly be alive. Desperate to know the truth, the Culver’s contact Naomi, a private investigator who specializes in finding children.

Naomi’s reputation precedes her; she is known as The Child Finder and her ability to find these children, dead or alive is uncanny. Whether this ability stems from her past or not, Naomi understands these children because she used to be one of them. Naomi was found running through a field naked when she was a young girl. With no memories of what happened to her, Naomi is taken in my a kindly woman and grows up with a need, an obsession to find children like her. But who is she really hoping to find?

What happened to Madison Culver? Did she freeze to death like many suspect or is she out there somewhere? Will Naomi be able to unravel another story without unraveling herself?

loved Rene Denfeld’s The Enchanted, so I had to pick up The Child Finder and I am glad I did. This won’t be a book for everyone. Some people just can’t handle reading a story about child abduction and the horrible, evil things people do. And that’s OK. But for those who can stomach it, Denfeld does it right. She creates these stories where the bad is portrayed through the glamour of magic or fairy tales, so even though you realize you are reading something awful–you know what’s going on the whole time–there still a filter and one that really does add to the story.

The Child Finder has two primary narratives–Naomi’s past and present and Snowgirl’s, Madison Culver’s. I wondered at first if this fractured narrative, jumping between stories and past and present would detract from the story but it doesn’t at all. It really works. You get invested in Snowgirl’s story and yet you are still craving the who behind Naomi’s past. This story touches upon a very dark world and we get an insight into some of the psychology of abductees without it being overwhelming. We also get a glimpse into the mind of the “villain” and we see how monsters are made and people twisted.

This one gets four stars from me. Not quite as high as The Enchanted but still a really good read and one I think readers would enjoy.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan is an adult fiction novel that would probably be considered a thriller or whodunit.

No one in Lydia’s life knows much about her past and that is just the way she likes it. Lydia has spent her whole adult life running from a violent childhood horror. She has carefully crafted this life of books and acquaintances and has cut out all other reminders of her past, including her father.

When Lydia finds one of the bookstore’s eccentric regulars, hanging dead from the the bookstore’s ceiling, she finds herself caught up in the mystery of his death. Drawn into the deceased Joey’s life, Lydia finds a photograph of herself as a child in his pocket and her carefully crafted life starts to unraveled.

Now Lydia must uncover clues about Joey’s life by unraveling secret messages left for her in cut up books bequeathed to her upon his death. But the clues only lead to more questions. Why did Joey commit suicide? What does he know about Lydia’s childhood? And what ghosts from her past will Lydia have to face in uncovering the truth?

This was one I picked up solely because it had the word bookstore in the title. Yup, I can’t help myself–take note publishers. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the book was actually a bit of a thriller, not my usual genre but one I like to get to occasionally.

First, can I randomly gripe about a few things… What type of bookstore–thriving in this day and age, that is not a chain–is open past midnight, has multiple floors, and has a staff of what seems like it is in the double digits? And in Denver, Colorado to-boot. I know I am being picky but I’d love to know if the author based the bookstore off of a real one.

Now that I am done with that, this wasn’t a bad read. I wasn’t overly invested in the characters but it did keep me guessing until about halfway through the book, which I generally consider a successful thriller. I thought the ending was a bit abrupt and I wondered about what became of some of our side characters but for the most part the loose ends were tied up.

I did really like this idea of the BookFrogs; bookstore regulars who aren’t necessarily homeless but are regulars and fixtures in the store, each with their own eccentricities. I would have loved to glimpsed a few more of them throughout the story, as they were each unique and wonderful.

This book was fairly middle of the road for me. I would recommend it to my patrons but it was neither great nor a bad read. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Roses of May

The Roses of May by Dot Hutchinson is the second book in The Collector series. It is a sequel (of sorts) to Hutchinson’s first novel The Butterfly Garden. While the agents at the FBI and the Butterflies deal with the aftermath of their captivity, spring is coming, which means another serial killer is preparing to strike.

For years agents Eddison, Hanoverian, and Ramirez have been trying to solve a string of murders where an adolescent girl is laid out in a church with her throat cut and flowers strewn around her. Sixteen girls have died since this killer first started and the FBI has very little to go on. This case has also become personal as the agents have bonded to the sister of one of the slain.

Priya Sravasti’s sister was murdered by this killer five years ago and she has forged a strange relationship to “her” FBI agents. When Priya starts receiving flowers on her doorstep, she knows that the man who killed her sister has chosen his next target.

Can Priya and the FBI stop the killer before it is too late? Will the Butterflies ever be able to heal after their ordeal in the garden? Will evil ever stop and will justice find a way?

I should preface this by saying that I am not generally a fan of thrillers… or, at least, they are not my go to genre but these were great. I don’t know if there will be another book in this series but I am a fan of Hutchinson’s writing. These books are psychological thrillers and are easy to get caught up in.

One of the things I really love about Hutchinson’s work, is her character development. I loved Maya and Vic in the first book and I love all the characters in this one. Priya is not as “saucy” as Maya but both are strong females in their own ways.

Honestly, I felt exactly the same way about this book as I did The Butterfly Garden. It had the same elements, so I am going to steal from my earlier post…

This book is horrible in some ways but “it happens almost abstractly; you know it happens, you know it is happening but you are sort of on the outskirts of the scene. You don’t feel as present for it as you do in some of the things you read or watch.”

“It’s hard to say what exactly it was that caught me about this book. It wasn’t overly suspenseful or graphic, the format wasn’t new, […]. If I had to pick something, I’d have to say the story itself just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.”

As much as this one pulled me in and I enjoyed it, I wasn’t as desperate to finish as I was with The Butterfly Garden. For this reason I am giving it 4 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Lost Girls

A while back I picked up The Lost Girls and read the synopsis and I don’t know why but I was pulled in. This isn’t the type of book I usually go for but for some reason I couldn’t get it out of my head.

The Lost Girls by Heather Young is part thriller, part mystery and part confessionary tale. Nearing death, Lucy Evans–the last of the three Evans sisters–lays bare the story of her life, her family and the story of Emily. Six-year-old Emily Evans went missing in the summer of 1935. Her’s has been a cautionary tale and one that has followed the Evans family throughout the decades.

Now sixty years later, Lucy has passed away, leaving her lake house to Justine, a grandniece she met once almost 20 years earlier. Desperate to escape her manipulative boyfriend, Justine takes her eight and eleven-year-old girls and they move into the house. But things aren’t like Justine remembers. The house is old and in need of repair and the lake is no longer the bustling retreat it once was. The only other inhabitants of the lake are two elderly brothers; the place is isolated  and the house is soaked in the past.

As Justine and the girls adjust to their new life, the truth about Emily’s disappearance comes to light, revealing a past that is dark, awful and much, much more than meets the eye. What happened to Emily? And what will become of Justine and her family?

This book is so hard to review because it is not a genre I normally read. I literally kept asking myself why I was reading it. That being said, it wasn’t a bad read–it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

One thing I will say about this book is that you know what’s coming and yet it is still a total surprise. Young basically takes you by the hand, she leads you down this path where you know what awful things are coming and still it’s a shock. One of those: “It can’t be.” “Please, no.” moments.

The mystery, whodunit moments in this book were really well done. Lot’s of different breadcrumbs to follow and looking back you find you had the answers all along. This is not something every writer can do.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the narration… well I should say, I wasn’t a huge fan of Justine’s narration. Lucy’s was great but Justine’s story was just not as interesting to me and as a character she fell kind of flat.

Overall, this is a book fans of Gone Girl and Girl on a Train would probably like. It has some similar elements, although it doesn’t quite get there. I give this book 3 stars, mostly because I am not sure how I feel about it. Not a bad read but not one I would pick up again.

That’s all for now!

-M-