Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is a dour Chicago auditor for the Internal Revenue Service who is awakened alone each morning by his Timex watch, eats alone, counts the number of steps he walks for fun, focuses on ways to save time tying his tie, and brushes his teeth exactly 76 times (38 vertical strokes, 38 horizontal). One day, Harold begins to hear a voice that describes his thoughts and actions as if he were a character in a book. Harold attempts to communicate with the speaker, but soon realizes the voice does not know that he can hear it. The voice of his daily narration is actually that of author Karen Effiel (Emma Thompson), an author writing his story though she believes it to be fictional. Crick's bewilderment soon turns to anxiety when the voice narrates that his watch has set in motion a series of events that will result in his imminent death.