After captivating readers in The Child Finder, Naomi—the investigator with an uncanny ability for finding missing children—returns, trading snow-covered woods for dark, gritty streets on the search for her missing sister in a city where young, homeless girls have been going missing and turning up dead.
From the highly praised author of The Child Finder and The Enchanted comes The Butterfly Girl, a riveting novel that ripples with truth, exploring the depths of love and sacrifice in the face of a past that cannot be left dead and buried. A year ago, Naomi, the investigator with an uncanny ability for finding missing children, made a promise that she would not take another case until she finds the younger sister who has been missing for years. Naomi has no picture, not even a name. All she has is a vague memory of a strawberry field at night, black dirt under her bare feet as she ran for her life.
The search takes her to Portland, Oregon, where scores of homeless children wander the streets like ghosts, searching for money, food, and companionship. The sharp-eyed investigator soon discovers that young girls have been going missing for months, many later found in the dirty waters of the river. Though she does not want to get involved, Naomi is unable to resist the pull of children in need—and the fear she sees in the eyes of a twelve-year old girl named Celia. Running from an abusive stepfather and an addict mother, Celia has nothing but hope in the butterflies—her guides and guardians on the dangerous streets. She sees them all around her, tiny iridescent wisps of hope that soften the edges of this hard world and illuminate a cherished memory from her childhood—the Butterfly Museum, a place where everything is safe and nothing can hurt her.
As danger creeps closer, Naomi and Celia find echoes of themselves in one another, forcing them each to consider the question: Can you still be lost even when you’ve been found? But will they find the answer too late?
The Butterfly Girl is apparently the second book in the protagonist’s life – Naomi. I, however did not have any problem following the storyline, either personally or professionally in this sequel – so The Butterfly Girl can definitely standalone.
Naomi is an orphan, who escaped captivity when she was 9 years old – she had been missing for 5 years by then. She doesn’t remember much beyond running, but she does remember leaving her younger sister behind. Now, all her life, all the decisions she has taken and the paths she has taken her life on has had only one goal in her mind – find her sister, no matter how and where she is.
In fact, she is so good at finding people; its actually become her career – she has an uncanny ability to find missing children/teenagers, especially those at risk and would be considered runaways. Her latest search has bought her and her husband to Portland, Oregan, where infinite number of nameless and faceless teenage runaways inhabits its streets, doing the unspeakable just to survive.
When bodies of homeless girls start finding their way into the city’s consciousness, Naomi finds herself reluctantly involved in the case; especially when she starts getting emotionally involved with a homeless teenager, Claire; who has her own traumatic past and life.
Now, the Butterfly Girl is not your run of the mill mystery – the plot is sedately paced and has a lot more intricate nuances than would meet the yes at a first glance; exploring themes of child abuse, paedophilia, underage prostitution, sexual abuse and child neglect.
Rene Denfeld has her own style of writing a thriller – not with the usual thrilling twists and turns but more demurely paced plotline that slowly creeps up on you without the reader ever expecting it!