Next up on my psychological suspense list is this debut novel by A.J. Finn (Actual name Dan Mallory, former editor at William Morrow–check out a great interview in BookPage Magazine ) I was captivated from the first page, and although I was able to work out some of what was going on, the atmosphere and the semi-unreliable narrator made for a fantastic reading experience.
This post contains affiliate links, see disclosure for more detail. I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are honest and my own.
About the Book:
Dr. Anna Fox is a child psychologist who experienced some sort of trauma almost a year ago and is now fearful of going out into the world. She remains shut inside her home and separated from her husband and daughter–she speaks to them regularly, but rarely leaves the house. Anna keeps tabs on her neighbors in her New York City neighborhood by watching them out the window through the lens of her camera, but her agoraphobia keeps her from truly interacting with anyone other than through message boards on the computer. Anna watches old movies and ponders about her life and the lives of those around her. When she sees a horrifying event through her camera lens, she immediately calls the police–but they find no evidence of the crime and chalk it up to Anna’s over-active imagination and her movie viewing habits. Anna even begins to second-guess herself, until more and more odd occurrences begin to happen and she can’t deny that there’s something sinister going on.
As with many books in this genre, this one is filled with some sharp twists and surprises. Like I said above, some of them I figured out before they were revealed in the story, but that really didn’t matter in the long run. The experience of the novel–the reader experiencing things along with Anna and knowing (almost) as much as she does makes the story more exciting and suspenseful.
I mentioned that Anna is a semi-reliable narrator. The book is told from her first person point-of-view. She’s obviously keeping something from us from the beginning–we don’t know what happened to her 11 months ago to make her afraid to leave the house. We don’t know why she is separated from her husband and daughter. She chooses not to reveal any of that to us, and it makes the story more suspenseful. The rest of it, we know what Anna knows–what she sees from her window, the bits and pieces she garners from her infrequent visitors and even more infrequent trips outside–that is all the evidence she has and consequently, all we have as well.
Anna drinks copious amounts of wine. This may or may not have something to do with her circumstances, what she sees, and how she experiences things. How reliable is her recollection, and therefore her account, of everything? Most of this story felt incredibly realistic, and it’s pretty obvious that that author has experience with agoraphobia in some way. Short chapters keep the book moving at a rapid pace. It’s so easy to say, ” Just one more chapter” when they are just a couple of pages long, and then find yourself halfway through (guilty!)
The Woman in the Window is creepy, melancholic, suspenseful, and overall a worthwhile read and exciting addition to the genre.