The sense of place in Before I Find You

Author Ali Knight gives some insight into the locations that inspired her new thriller 'Before I Find You'

Posted on April 17, 2019 in Guest Author
Tags: Crime, ali knight

The heroine in my latest novel Before I Find You, is Maggie Malone, a hard-hearted, hard-nosed private detective who has forged her career finding out whether a spouse is cheating, and bringing that evidence back to the person who is paying.

She runs her detective agency, The Blue and White, from the first floor of a decrepit Victorian building on Praed St, opposite Paddington Station. She chose it for all the right reasons – it’s cheap, impersonal and private, easy for people who don’t want to be noticed or remembered to come and go. Maggie shares the first floor with some immigration lawyers, their office across the hall used to be a travel agency, but the internet did for that business more than a decade ago.

Areas that surround major train stations are strange and fascinating places, whether King’s Cross, the Gare du Nord or 42nd St. An air of sadness and transience pervades them, they are the ultimate expression of the loneliness and dissociation of the city. I thought Praed Street was the perfect backdrop to play out Maggie’s dramas in the novel.

Maggie has spent so many years exposing cheats and liars that it has affected her personal life. Now in her early forties, she finds it hard to trust potential partners and tends to use them for sex before moving on to the next man before she can form any lasting attachments. She would dispute it, but her colleagues think she has become so cynical. The view from the office window is of St Mary’s Hospital, which houses one of London’s biggest maternity wards.  Maggie regularly looks out on stunned-looking couples moving extra slowly with their precious bundles in their arms or the traffic being stopped by a proud father buckling a car seat into place. It’s vulnerability and love that Maggie sees, and it makes her uncomfortable.

Nothing in Maggie’s world stays the same, however much she would like it to. Rising behind the hospital are new towers made of glass and steel, part of the Paddington Basin redevelopment, where a 21st century city is being formed on top of the worn out buildings of the industrial revolution. Maggie’s unsure what she thinks about all that money being spent on bricks and mortar, and the fortunes being made. But she’s sure someone’s being screwed. Little does she know that the next client who walks through her door is going to bring Maggie very close to that new money, and face to face with the messiest, most secrets parts of herself.

The kindle edition of Before I Find You is available for just £0.99 on Amazon right now, perfect for a long weekend’s reading.


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