A good psychological thriller that’s so well written you can’t set it down is like a gift from the gods of literature. After reading numerous negative reviews of The Woman in the Window: A Novel by A.J. Finn and superb reviews by two of my favorite and most respected writers, I knew I had to dive into this book. In a world where fear and paranoia are served daily in our news headlines, this story takes terror to a new level.
An alcoholic, prescription drug abuse, agoraphobic child psychologist lives alone in a restored house in Harlem, New York. That alone got my mind reeling. Separated from her husband and young daughter, Anna Fox watches classic old movies, roams her roomy house, plays online chess, is learning French, and offers aid to other agoraphobics via her computer. When she isn’t indulging these “hobbies” she stares out her window at the homes of her neighbors. Rather like Hitchcock’s Rear Window, she develops storylines in her imagination for these unsuspecting characters.
Anna’s only physical contact with the outside world is her psychiatrist, her physical therapist, and her basement tenant, David. She communicates with her husband, Ed, and daughter, Olivia (Livvy) via telephone daily. Otherwise, Anna is trapped by her overwhelming fear of the world outside.
When the Russell’s, Alistair and Jane and their son Ethan, buy the house across the park Anna watches them begin moving in. It isn’t long before they become part of the scenery she observes. But these are no ordinary neighbors, or are they? After meeting Ethan when he brings a candle as a gift from his mother to her front door and a subsequent visit from Mom, Anna sees something unimaginable. While using her camera with a telephoto lens to surreptitiously watch the family she sees a horrifying murder.
What follows is a living nightmare as her life unravels. No one believes the drunken, pill-popping woman suffering from PTSD and agoraphobia; not her doctor, not her physical therapist, not even the police. As she attempts to wrap her head around what she saw, more strange things happen. How much is real and how much is her imagination?
Descriptively beautiful, rich with the colors of Anna’s views of her neighbors, their lives, the neighborhood, and her inner voice, Finn carries the reader through a living nightmare. As Anna sinks deeper into confusion her consumption of alcohol and drugs increases making less and less believable to outsiders.
Finn does a remarkable job of examining the turmoil of an agoraphobic and PTSD. Viewing the world through Anna’s eyes is painful and often overwhelming. It’s impossible to look away as she seems to collapse before the reader’s eyes, losing herself a piece at a time. The police are less than sympathetic, her new neighbors angry and threatening, and people she hopes to rely on see her as deteriorating.
There are subtle clues throughout that something is dreadfully wrong, The mystery is where the problem is. As more questions are raised the mystery intensifies until it is unbearable, in a good way of course.
This is an incredible book. When I read the last page, I wanted to cry because it was over. I wanted more; not more of the story which concluded perfectly, but more of the excellent writing that brought characters and settings to vibrant life.
If you love Hitchcock this is the book for you. DO NOT MISS THIS ONE! It has all the elements that made his films classics. Mr. Finn (aka Mr. Mallory), please hurry up with your next book!
For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts, to be published in thirty-six languages around the world and already in development as a major film from Fox: a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.
It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.
Twisty and powerful, ingenious and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.