The Woman in the Window, by A. J. Finn

Eight stars

A.J. Finn’s debut novel has all the ingredients of an excellent thriller that will keep the reader thinking well into the night, as well as pulling the blinds closed when neighbours are around. Dr. Anna Fox was a well-established child psychologist in New York City before an accident drastically changed her life. Now, Anna suffers from agoraphobia and will not leave her home. Surrounded by her countless bottles of wine and old movies, Anna communicates mostly by phone or through her computer. Even her husband and daughter have left her, forcing Anna to rely on the few people who come to visit. When not busy with her online interactions, Anna peers out her window to people watch, enjoying all that she can notice discretely. This is made especially interesting when new neighbours, the Russells, move in across the park. When gazing through her camera one day, Anna is sure she sees her neighbour, Jane, murdered. Frantic to stop the act, Anna exits her home and is found later by police, passed out in the park. When Anna comes to, she recounts what she’s seen, but is baffled when she learns that ‘Jane Russell’ is a completely different woman and that she is still very much alive. As the cops dig deeper, they discover more about Anna’s life and things do not add up. Who did Anna see through the blinds and what is going on? Trapped inside her own home, Anna is forced to reflect on what she saw and how to convince those who have written her off as delusional. With time running out, Anna must make her move, while still faced with being petrified to leave her home. Finn has concocted a wonderful story and thrilling narrative. Recommended for those who like a great psychological thriller.

A friend recommended that I read this book, feeling that I might enjoy all the twists and turns. Finn surely does embed them into his story with ease, while developing his characters effectively. Anna Fox serves as a strong protagonist, one who is not only trapped in her own home, but also her mind. As Anna sifts through all that has happened to her, there is no doubt that there is a degree of imagination, fuelled by a lack of social interaction, but how much? Away from her family and self-medicating quite effectively—with both alcohol and pills—there is sure to be an ever-changing line about what is going on. It is the attentive reader who will discover some of the truths and fallacies in the narrative. Other characters complement the story effectively, allowing the reader to bask in their intricacies and envelop themselves in a great mystery. As the story progresses, the reader is left to parse through what is real and how much is a figment of an overactive imagination. The story flows well and keeps the reader transfixed for much of the novel’s progress. That this is Finn’s debut publication makes it all the most refreshing to read, knowing that the writing and plot developments will only get better over time. With rumours of a film to come, I will be interested to see how the book translates onto the big screen.

Kudos, Mr. Finn, for a fabulous debut novel. I can only hope that there will be future novels to come at this high caliber.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: