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STARRED Book Review: Found

FOUND by Irene Cooper is a gut-wrenching and poignant exploration of trauma, grief, and impossible choices. Check out what Melissa Suggitt has to say in her book review of this Atmosphere Press novel.

STARRED Book Review: Found

Reviewed by Melissa Suggitt

A gut-wrenching and poignant exploration of trauma, grief, and impossible choices

Content warnings: endangered children, abortion

Eleanor Clay is a police consultant for the Bristlecone Springs PD, and for the last 10 years she has been invaluable due to her unique gift: a particularly good knack for finding things. In this case, the dead bodies of missing children. 

However, as new terrifying acts of horror are inflicted upon her small Colorado town, Eleanor’s gift suddenly shifts and she finds 3-year-old Lizzie alive…barely.

This moment sets off an intense chain of events for Eleanor and those in her orbit, involving gruesome kidnappings and attempted murders of more children. Suddenly, still grieving the loss of her daughter 10 years before and grappling with her failure as a mother to her still-living son, she is swept up in a storm of prejudice and harassment when news of her morbid talent is leaked. 

An impassioned preacher, John Yearling, the head of a megachurch, begins what can only be described as a modern-day witch hunt on social media.

Eleanor must navigate the upending of her world once again, while also trying to protect her family and her town from a monster. But will she be able to find what is lost without succumbing to the darkness surrounding and consuming her?

This is a heavy book. Some readers may find it hard to push through, but if you can, push through it. Because this book matters.

The most notable theme weaving its way through the narrative is abortion—an unexpected but incredibly timely topic. It is important and powerful and exactly what we need at this moment.

It speaks volumes about Irene Cooper’s talent that the worst part of the novel is the conversation surrounding abortion, not the abduction and attempted murders of young children. The writing is done in a way that handles it all with a grace and finesse that isn’t easily achieved. 

While the novel has a female-driven focus, it also handles and explores the emotions of men who are put in an impossible position. It is fascinating to see the exploration of what a man’s perspective might be while supporting their partners through such a traumatic experience. The inclusivity of the topic is a breath of fresh air, and men and women alike can find a reason to relate to the characters in this story.

One of the most intriguing things about Eleanor is her uncanny ability to find. For years, she has struggled with her gift. Is it intuition? Is it a superpower? Or has grief unlocked something within her to save others the way she could never save her daughter? 

While we never quite get an answer to how Eleanor is able to find the children, it doesn’t matter. This woman, reminiscent of a female Sherlock Holmes, gets the job done despite living under an immense cloud of darkness and grief. There is an almost imperceptible air of magic around her that keeps the reader engrossed in her story and sitting in her corner for the entirety of the novel. 

Women across the world are silenced every day. What Cooper has done with Found is given them a voice. Not only has she created a piece of fiction reflective of the turmoil of today’s society, but in the end, it is an incredibly compelling murder mystery that will have you racing to figure it all out.

Have tissues ready for this one. Tears of sadness, rage, hope. And be sure to leave time to ruminate after you put it down. It is the type of narrative that will burrow itself in your soul and leave you changed—I certainly hope for the better. I cannot recommend this book enough. 

This is exactly the conversation we need to be having in an overturned-Roe V Wade world. Fans of strong female-led mysteries will not want to miss Found.

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / Psychological

Print Length: 294 pages

ISBN: 978-1639885497

Thank you for reading Melissa Suggitt’s book review of Found by Irene Cooper! If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.

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