The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
The Woman in the Window had me hooked from the opening pages. This is a beautifully written thriller, with exquisite characterisation. Anna Fox suffers from extreme agoraphobia, and she hasn’t left her New York home for ten months. She is simply too terrified to go outside. She orders in everything she needs, and depends on her tenant and visits from a couple of other people for company, and the chatroom of the Internet. Her lifeline to the outside world is from her window, where she observes her neighbours coming and going. When the Russells move in across the park, she is drawn to them. They are a family of three and they echo her old life. One evening Anna witnesses a brutal stabbing from her window, however, but no one believes what she has seen. Police and neighbours think she is a crazy woman who drinks too much. Even she starts to doubt what she has witnessed as she tries to uncover the truth.
The Woman in the Window is a superb thriller that captures the old black and white Hollywood movies that Anna watches throughout the novel. It has a Hitchcockian feel to it, and it is Anna’s backstory that is just as suspenseful as the current mystery of the woman who Anna witnessed being stabbed, but that no one else will admit to having seen. Anna is a complicated, traumatised woman who used to work as a psychologist helping children, but now her home is filled with ghosts, and the happy family she had is no more. But what happened to her ten months ago that caused her to abandon her professional life, a hostage to her fears? What trauma has her on a cocktail of medication, and even though she knows she shouldn’t be mixing the medication with alcohol, why is she drinking from morning until night?
The reader finds out the heart-breaking backstory at the same pace as things escalate in the neighbourhood as Anna searches for the truth about what she has seen. This is a well-crafted thriller and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is made into a movie one day. It is atmospheric and told with a great deal of flair.
Reviewer: Karen McKenzie
HarperCollins, RRP $35.00