The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
Harper Collins: 1/2/18
eBook review copy; 448 pages
The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn is a very highly recommended Hitchcockian/Rear Window novel of psychological suspense.
"That's a secret, private world you're looking into out there. People do
a lot of things in private that they couldn't possibly explain in
public." Doyle in Rear Window
Unable to leave the house due to agoraphobia induced by trauma, Anna Fox
is a former child psychologist who has been living alone in her NYC
home for a little under a year. She spends her time drinking too much
wine, unreliably medicating herself, and watching old movies. She checks
in evenings with her husband, who recently separated from her, and
their daughter. Her social life is online. She participates in an online
support group for agoraphobics and provides new-comers with
encouragement and advice. She plays chess and she takes French lessons
online. She has a tenant downstairs to help her. Anna's psychiatrist and
physical therapist make house calls.
She also spends a lot of time spying on her neighbors using her camera's
zoom lens. When the Russells, father, mother, and teenage son, move
into one of the five townhouses that Anna watches across the street, she
does online research and knows immediately their names and what they
paid for the house. When the son stops by and delivers a gift from his
mother, Anna is surprised, but likes the boy. Then she actually meets
the mother and is surprised at how much she enjoys her company
(drinking). So when she witnesses a horrific, shocking event while
watching them, she knows she needs to contact the police. But did she
really see it or was it the combination of taking her medication with
alcohol causing hallucinations.
The character of Anna is a wonderfully unreliable narrator. Clearly she
is drinking w-a-y-t-o-o much and she knows she shouldn't take her
medications with alcohol, but she does anyway, lies about it, and she
knows she is not taking them as prescribed. The daily drinking until
drunk is over the top (and annoying to some), but it does serve to make
it clear that Anna may not be reliable or telling the truth. There are
hints and glimpses that we don't know the whole story, that we really
don't know Anna, and as the novel progresses, that fact becomes more and
more clear. She has secrets, she's certainly paranoid, she's in denial,
but is she delusional?
After a careful, slow start, The Woman in the Window took off at a
gallop. The story, as it unraveled, was gripping and compelling. I
stayed up way-too-late finishing the novel, telling myself, "Just one
more chapter." There were several twists that took me by surprised and
some I suspected. Finn found a way to have Anna housebound so the
comparison's to Rear
Window are obvious. Personally, I liked the tie-ins to Rear Window
and other Hitchcock movies, as well as other old black and white
suspense movies. I thought they help create an atmospheric mood and
added an extra depth to the novel. Finn also left some clues throughout
the novel to keep the reader questioning and anticipating twists.
All in all, I found The Woman in the Window to be an excellent
debut thriller of psychological suspense. The writing is remarkable and
the plot is clever, sophisticated, and twisty enough to bring to mind
some the best of Hitchcock's movies. Definitely read The Woman in the Window.
My review copy was courtesy of Harper Collins.