Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Rear Window-Ish Mind-Twister a Thriller of the Highest Order

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After a horrific accident, Anna Fox becomes a prisoner in her own home, separated from the two people she loves most.  Crippled by agoraphobia, the 38-year-old can't even step outside her Harlem brownstone without being crushed under the weight of her own panic, fear, and anxiety.  To protect herself, she stays inside 24/7, relying on a delivery service for groceries and old mystery movies for company.  A child psychologist, Anna finds some purpose on the Internet, where she counsels other agoraphobics in an online forum between games of chess.  Although she chats with her husband and daughter daily, she's still heartbroken and lonely.  

When Hitchcock films fail to keep her entertained, Anna indulges in her favorite hobby—watching her neighbors through her camera's telephoto lens.  Although she's ashamed of her tawdry voyeurism, that doesn't stop her from looking in on private arguments, affairs, and other activities.  It's harmless; after all, "Watching is like nature photography: you don't interfere with the wildlife" (4).  And Anna doesn't.  Until she witnesses what looks like a brutal murder-in-the-making.  The victim has become an unlikely friend.  In spite of what it will cost her, Anna must intervene.  When the police come calling, however, they see no evidence of a crime.  With her obsessive viewing of old mystery movies, her habit of mixing prescription pills with alcohol, and the obvious damage to her own sanity, Anna makes for a very unreliable witness.  Try as she might, she can't make the cops understand that she's not crazy, that she's sure of what she saw.  

As Anna tries to make sense of everything, she has to ask herself some terrifying questions—Has she finally lost her mind?  Is she seeing things, assuming things, that aren't real?  Will she ever live a normal life again?  Or has she forfeited forever the right to live the life she wants with the people she loves?  If she really saw a murder taking place, what can she—a woman so broken she can't even leave her home—do about it?  Convinced she must do something, Anna starts digging.  With the safe world she's made for herself crumbling around her, she will risk everything—her home-sanctuary, her last bits of sanity, her very life—to solve a mystery that may only exist inside her own warped and tortured mind.

The book world has been all abuzz about The Woman in the Window, a Hitchcockian debut novel by A.J. Finn.  Rightly so.  With its Rear Window-ish setup, its complex characters, and its tense, suspenseful plot line, the book offers plenty to tickle a thriller lover's fancy.  While the story is less of a white-knuckled, adrenaline-fueled roller coaster ride and more of a slow-burning, carefully-crafted psychological mind twister, it's still a page turner of the highest order.  Even though I saw some of the plot surprises coming, the Big Reveal walloped me good.  All in all, then, I loved this skillful, satisfying debut and will absolutely be looking forward to more from Mr. Finn.  


Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, violence, disturbing subject matter, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Woman in the Window from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

13 comments:

  1. I'm about halfway through this one right now. Other than the fact that I want to shake Anna over the alcohol consumption, I've been sucked into the story. I love the black and white film notations - makes me want to take notes and look them all up. I have some ideas about what might happen. We'll see how well I do in the guessing game.

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    1. Definitely! I especially want to watch Rear Window again to see how this novel compares to its inspiration.

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  2. Finn is an incredibly talented author. His writing style was so unique. I’d never seen anything quite like it. I saw a lot of the twist and turns coming but the big reveal surprised me a little. I say a little because I had some suspicions but I don’t want to say more and ruin it for someone. Mostly I was impressed with Finn’s style and hope he’s not a one hit wonder.

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    1. Oh, good! I'm glad you were at least a little surprised. If Finn surprised you, then he must be very skillful indeed :)

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  3. I'm looking forward to reading this one!

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  4. This is good to know because I really have wondered if this one is as good as everyone says it is. I can't wait to read it sometime.

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    1. It's always tough when a book gets really hyped-up. You go into it with such high expectations and often end up disappointed. This one lives up to the buzz -- at least for me, it did.

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  5. I liked this one! And the twist totally got me- didn't see THAT coming lol!

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one! Sometimes I feel like I'm the most gullible reader in the world :)

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  6. I've definitely got to read this one, I keep hearing such good things about it.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it! It really is a compelling page turner.

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  7. I'm so excited about this one! I love that the MC watches Hitchcock movies.

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