What do you do when someone takes advantage of your greatest weakness?
When Laura wakes up after her office Christmas party and sees a man’s shirt on the floor, she is horrified. But this is no ordinary one-night-stand regret.
Laura suffers from severe face-blindness, a condition that means she is completely unable to identify and remember faces. So the man she spent all night dancing with and kissing – the man she thought she’d brought home – was ‘Pink Shirt’.
But the shirt on her floor is blue.
And now Laura must go to work every day, and face the man who took advantage of her condition. The man she has no way of recognising.
She doesn’t know who he is . . . but she’ll make him pay.
Emma Curtis’ debut novel, One Little Mistake blew me away last year with its smart premise and sophisticated writing so I had very high expectations for her second book, When I Find You. And she doesn’t disappoint. Her second book features strong characters and a skilfully crafted plot that will keep you guessing throughout.
Twenty-eight year old Laura Maguire suffers from prosopagnosia or face blindness, relying on other attributes such as the colour of clothing, hairstyles, body language, and mannerisms to distinguish people. She keeps her condition a secret because she’s afraid that someone might take advantage of her if they know she can’t recognise or identify anyone. Laura works in an advertising company, an environment that relies on appearance and facade. She is responsible for organising and launching campaigns, an ironic profession for her because she avoids social situations as much as possible due to her condition.
Laura is pressured to go to the office Christmas party and celebrates a bit too much, becoming disoriented and confused. She wakes up the next day and discovers that she’s not sure who she slept with the night before. She also gets the feeling that she was taken advantage of and starts to question whether she has been raped. She identifies the most likely candidates in her office and starts trying to figure out who abused her. She can’t go to the police because she can’t describe the person she went home with that night. The only person in the office who knows about Laura’s face blindness is her boss Rebecca but Laura wonders who Rebecca might have told or who might use that information against her.
Like in One Little Mistake, two narratives are intertwined with the main character, Laura in this case, telling her story in first person, and another character’s story, Rebecca in this case, being told in third person. Here, both narratives take place contemporaneously in the present. At first, it wasn’t obvious why Rebecca was narrating because she didn’t seem like a very interesting character. However, it soon becomes clear why she was chosen as the different strands and narratives are brought together. The distinction between first and third person are important in this case as Laura is such an introverted character and we are encouraged to identify with her because of her condition. Curtis’ sensitive treatment of the condition demonstrates the confusion, vulnerability, and frustration Laura feels and the first person narration makes it all the more palpable and visceral. Although Laura is a flawed character, she is sympathetic nonetheless because she is struggling. Curtis’ sensitive treatment of a possible rape is also skilfully done as the book is never gratuitous.
Curtis skilfully crafts the world of the office, the cliques that form, the tension that is created when different personalities work in close proximity, and the rumours and hierarchies that can form within the workplace. Although Laura likes where she works, the book shows how nasty the office environment can be. Laura becomes very suspicious of and paranoid about all the men around her, both in and out of her office and this nervousness is distinctly palpable, demonstrating the strength of Curtis’ writing.
Curtis’ mastery of the psychological thriller is impressive as dramatic tension is built throughout. In both this book as well as her first, the characters in particular are very unpredictable, making this a very unnerving and enjoyable book. I look forward to Curtis’ next book.
About the author
Emma Curtis was born in Brighton and now lives in London with her husband. After raising two children and working various jobs, her fascination with the darker side of domestic life inspired her to write her acclaimed debut novel, One Little Mistake. When I Find You is her second thriller.
Find her on Twitter: @emmacurtisbooks