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.
The plot of this book is actually rather good; a possibly unreliable narrator, in the middle of a sinister mystery regarding what she thinks she witnessed in her neighbours home, all the while struggling to cope with her personal life. It was definitely a page-turner, and the short chapters helped. One of the quickest mystery-thrillers I’ve read, actually. I read it in a day and a half.
The main character, Anna, is both likeable but uncertain, as I didn’t know whether to trust her narrative (she indulges in a lot of alcohol whilst on heavy medication). However, in the thick of the story, I felt I couldn’t do anything else but root for Anna. She had a tidal wave of hostility, acrimony and doubt fighting against her, from the beginning of the mystery-thriller, right until the end. Any dislike for the character was shelved, due to the burning need Finn installed, for Anna to be vindicated. The only other character that was likeable was Detective Little. Every other character – Alistair, Ethan, Norelli, David – were all irritating in some capacity (the kind of irritating that proves how well Finn has connected the reader and Anna).
There were a couple of issues with this read. Without any real annoyance, I couldn’t help but feel the first 100 pages were quite unrelated and unnecessary to the story, if I’m honest. It felt more like establishing Anna’s character and her situation, thereby allowing me to fully understand her behaviours, before the heavier elements of the story began. Because of this, I found the book’s beginning to be quite sluggish.
As well, I found it slightly annoying that I as the reader was expected to accept the number of things Anna did wrong due to her mindset being under the influence of drink and drugs. I find books like this really frustrating, for the reason being, the character eventually does what should have been done originally, just about 30 pages later. Without being facetious, I read it as another way of prolonging the book. Moreover, I couldn’t understand when Anna was facing judge, jury and executioner toward the end of the book, how she was left alone in such a vulnerable state, when she was believed to be crazy.
Although there are those issues, the mysteries within The Woman In The Window were enjoyable and full of tension. My issues above, were somewhat salvaged by how good the mysteries were. This was an addictive and compelling story, that had to be devoured. I was on the edge of my seat with how the story progressed, and with the final chapters. I predicted the ending, but didn’t predict a few of the twists. This book was written to be made into a film because, that was abundantly clear in the pull and tug of the story toward the climax, because its atmospheric setting is riveting and chilling.
Also, Finn sets the story that unfolds behind the building picture of noir thriller classics, which contributed to the idea that Anna was an unreliable narrative. I didn’t really appreciate the repeated use of mentioning these films, but I have no doubt there will be readers who do.
Overall, for a debut novel, it’s a really good read. I read it within a day, and decided to rate the book 4 stars on goodreads, purely because it had a seriously sluggish start. To sum up The Woman In The Window in two words: addictive and tense. I can’t wait to see this book on the big screen, I hope it does the book and A.J. Finn justice.
The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn
Published January 2018
Genre: mystery, thriller, suspense