Friday, 19 January 2018

Book Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn.

Product details:
Publisher: William Morrow.
Hardcover, 448 pages.
Release date: January 2nd 2018.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: Adult.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.
But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

 A typical day in the life of Dr. Anna Fox is spent watching old movies while drinking merlot, learning French and playing chess, all in the company of her cat. Now, you might be thinking that this is, in fact, not a bad way to spend a day, and you’d be right. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch old movies while enjoying a glass of wine, right? But this is not a day in Anna’s life. This is her life. As for that wine, Anna doesn’t drink her merlot by the glass, she drinks it by the crate. Save for her cat and the tenant who lives downstairs, Anna, who suffers from agoraphobia, lives alone. Anna’s husband left ten months ago, taking her daughter with him. Now, Anna sits at her window and watches the world go by without her in it. She also likes to sit at her window and observe her neighbours; witnessing the mundanities of their daily lives along with their fights, their affairs and their marriage breakdowns. This all serves to keep Anna entertained, until one day she hears a scream. Following this scream, Anna sees something she was ever meant to see…

One of the buzzed-about titles of 2018 with a movie already in the works, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, wears its love of film noir on its sleeve, taking inspiration from Hitchcock’s Rear Window and  Fritz Lang’s 1944 noir The Woman in the Window, from which it takes its title.  While A.J. Finn’s debut is a gripping page-turner of love, lies, murder and possible descent into madness, the real beauty of The Woman in the Window lies in its elegant prose and effortless turn-of-phrase, which is a cut above many other books in this genre. Truth be told, while The Woman in the Window kept me turning the pages late into the night, I found this story mostly predictable, guessing many of its plot twists long before they were revealed on the page. That’s not to say The Woman in the Window is poorly plotted, quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just that I have read so many psychological thrillers over the past few years that is it really, really difficult to surprise me nowadays. I wish things were different. If I had read this book five years ago, I’m sure I would be telling a whole other story. 

The Woman in the Window is not simply a case of solving a murder most wicked, it is also the story of Dr. Anna Fox, the woman who had it all and lost it all. So, what happened to Anna? At first it seems as though Anna has given up on life, spending her days in an alcohol and drug induced haze, where she puts down her wine glass only to feed her cat or speak to her husband and daughter on the phone. It soon transpires, though, that Anna does care. That, in her own way, she is trying to get back to living. She also cares enough to help other agoraphobia sufferers in a professional capacity via an online forum. And she cares enough to venture outside when she witnesses a horrific crime. Anna even cares enough that she’s willing to put her own safety on the line to help solve a murder. But how can Anna solve this crime when nobody, not even the police – especially not the police – believes a word that she says?

A winning debut, A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window is a noirish thriller that will appeal to fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Kind Worth Killing.

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