IT ONLY TAKES A MOMENT TO UNRAVEL A PERFECT LIFE . . .
When Grace’s fiancé vanishes without a trace the night after proposing, her life is turned upside down. But has Nick walked out on her, or is he in danger?
As Grace desperately searches for answers, it soon becomes clear that Nick wasn’t the uncomplicated man she thought she knew. And when she uncovers a hidden tragedy from his childhood, she realises an awful truth: that you can run from your past – but your secrets will always catch up with you . . .
Grace seems to have the perfect life. She has a great job, the perfect fiancé Nick, and a daughter Lottie. But Nick doesn’t come home one night after a late night walk and she has no way of contacting him. In addition, he only proposed to her that day so she wonders whether that has anything to do with his disappearance.
The book cleverly begins with Nick’s disappearance and then offers us flashbacks of his life, both as a boy and of his life with Grace, so we only get to know him after he has already disappeared. This allows us initially to focus on Grace and get to know her but it also adds to the suspense. Grace’s narrative is also the only one to be written in the first person so we’re encouraged to identify with her and her frustration. Grace is paranoid from the beginning, carefully monitoring Nick’s and others’ activity on a phone app that counts the number of steps each has taken and this paranoia is carried through the rest of the book.
As the book progresses, several other narratives are introduced. We find out about Nick’s life as a teenager in flashbacks, particularly about an event one summer that affected many peoples’ lives. This event was so monumental in Nick’s life that we’re left with no doubt that it has something to do with his sudden disappearance but we don’t know how they are connected. The passages from Nick’s past are perhaps the most atmospheric as several families come together for the summer. The relationships between the children are thoughtfully explored as are their relationships with the adults. A sense of tension pervades both the contemporary narrative and the past narrative.
There is suitable tension when Nick’s parents, Tim and Cora, come to stay with Grace after his disappearance, which adds to our suspicions about them and about their involvement. Cora’s coldness towards Grace is palpable and Grace soon hears rumours about Tim’s past which she doesn’t know whether to believe or not. We’re also suspicious of Nick’s boss who seems to react strangely at the news and Grace is also suspicious of Anna, a new mom in the area and questions how much Nick’s knows her. Grace’s ex-husband Douglas is also violent, controlling, and manipulative. This all culminates in a fast-paced thriller and, although there are multiple plots and characters, all are well developed and perfectly balanced.
This is Curtis’ third novel following One Little Mistake (2017) and When I Find You (2018), both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. Curtis’ psychological thrillers are located within an idyllic domestic setting amongst perfect looking families and recognisable protagonists. But something from the past always returns to disrupt these perfect lives and everything isn’t always as it seems. Curtis’ books never fail to impress whilst also be highly entertaining and readable.
Thanks to Emma Curtis, Transworld Books, and NetGalley for providing an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review.
About the author
Emma Curtis was born in Brighton and now lives in London with her husband. After raising her 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.