The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn is a compelling page turner which I pretty much inhaled in one day, thanks to the short, punchy chapters. I just kept reading ‘one more chapter’ and before I knew it I had finished the book. It’s another book with an unreliable narrator — these books are so popular these days — and was like a cross between Girl on the Train and Hitchcock’s Rear Window. I also thought there was a smattering of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine in there in terms of the main character struggling with depression and trauma alongside other things.
Without giving too much away, The Woman in the Window is narrated by Dr Anna Fox, a former children’s psychologist who suffered some trauma months ago and now has developed agoraphobia. She hasn’t been able to leave her New York house in ten months and exists on lots of prescription medication chased down with copious glasses of wine. Hence the whole unreliable narrator angle.
Watching her neighbours from her window is something of a past time. That and watching old black and white movies like Rear Window, Strangers on the Train and Vertigo.
You know from the book’s blurb that Anna is going to witness something bad, so part of the fun of this book is speculating about what is going to happen. You also have to figure out what happened to her in the past as, being an unreliable narrator, Anna’s narration skirts around the issue, all while dropping plenty of hints.
The Woman in the Window is very suspenseful, well-written and worthy of all the hype. Though Anna was a mess of a character psychologically and physically, I still liked her and wanted her to sort herself out and figure out what was going on. I guessed the twist about her past long before it was revealed as certain bits of plot didn’t add up and also the plot device used was unoriginal. In fact, I read another great page turner recently where a troubled character had the same revelation about a personal relationship. I would love to discuss this device at length but don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone that didn’t see it coming.
As for the bad stuff that happens…that was all carefully plotted and did surprise me but again I had an inkling it was coming. Though I wasn’t 100% certain. The author did a great job of keeping me on my toes. There were plenty of red herrings in the plot to distract and try to mislead the reader.
But aside from these small criticisms which come from me reading way too many psychological suspense thrillers, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Woman in the Window. I even googled the author and found out that A.J. Finn is a pen name for a New York book editor named Dan Mallory. I was surprised as I assumed this book was written by a female author trying not to give their gender away. This book reads like an homage to film noir and took me back to my university days where I took some film history classes and watched a lot of Hitchcock and other film noir movies. And I’m sure this book will make a great movie some day.
But what I would like to read for a change is a psychological thriller with an unreliable male narrator who has substance issues, psychological trauma and is in a desperate situation. I just feel like all the books I read like this are always women with issues. They all have girl, woman or wife in the title.
Verdict: Read this if you’re after a thrilling page turner that you won’t be able to put down
What do you think about unreliable narrators in thrillers? Do you enjoy this plot device?