Dr. Anna Fox lives alone in her fancy house located in an upscale Harlem neighborhood. It’s been nearly a year since a mysterious accident that left Anna suffering from severe agoraphobia, unable to step foot outside or interact with people. Even her husband and daughter fall on that list, and while Anna loves them and misses them, both moved out to avoid forcing her into “too much contact.”
Anna receives regular visits from her physical therapist and her doctor, who continues writing prescriptions for pills that Anna has picked up and delivered to her house along with her groceries and anything else she might need. She passes her time by playing online chess, watching movies, and, perhaps her favorite hobby, sitting in the window and watching her neighbors. Well, actually, her favorite hobby is a toss up between people-watching and drinking. Anna throws down wine like nobody’s business, and yes, that’s delivered to her home too.
The story moves slowly in the beginning as Finn develops his plot, setting things up several moves ahead much in the same way that Anna attacks the chessboard. Things kick into another gear when a new family moves in across the street. They seem nice enough at first, and the more Anna watches them the more they come across as the perfect family. . . until she witnesses something horrifically shocking.
Reporting what she saw goes nowhere, as Anna is clearly not a credible witness. Others claim her story is false, and those refuting it aren’t alcoholic, pill-popping hermits, so naturally, the police are more inclined to believe them over Anna. Heck, even Anna wonders if she finally drank one too many glasses of wine while taking her meds, and begins to question herself. Maybe she didn’t actually see what she thought she saw, she reasons, but her need to discover the truth leads to more shocking moments as debut author A.J. Finn pushes the suspense factor into overdrive.
Finn is actually the pen name used by Dan Mallory, the VP and executive editor of William Morrow, an imprint at HarperCollins. In 2016, it was reported that William Morrow had won the rights to publish The Woman in the Window, which sold at auction for a rumored seven figures.
It’s been said that Mallory used the pseudonym to keep his writing career separate from his editing career. Nonetheless, as an industry insider, Finn knows what it takes to put out a sure-fire hit, and he delivered just that. The story itself, after settling into a groove that takes more than a hundred pages to dig out, is actually fairly predictable. Seasoned readers won’t be blindsided by any hard-hitting reveals or “gotcha” moments. But they’re not needed, as Finn beautifully crafts his story, opting to rely more on character development than never-see-it-coming twists and turns.
While The Woman in the Window is drawing comparisons to Gone Girl and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Finn’s psychological thriller is actually more Hitchcockian with a dash of Stephen King and a small pinch of Harlan Coben.
Author: A.J. Finn
Pages: 448 (Hardcover)
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: February 2, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.