"THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW," by A.J. Finn, William Morrow, 448 pages (f) (ages 16 and up)
Anna Fox lives alone. She spends much of her time watching Alfred Hitchcock's black-and-white thrillers.
It’s no surprise, then, that she soon finds herself locked up in one.
“The Woman in the Window” is a modern-day Hitchcock film in novel form. Much like the Hitchcock classic “Rear Window” or the 2007 Shia Labeouf hit “Disturbia,” the novel portrays Anna slowly losing her sanity as she tries to discover whether or not a mysterious murder actually happened in her new neighbor's home across the street, or if it’s just her imagination running wild.
Finn’s debut novel — which has already received heavy praise from thriller writers Stephen King, Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”) and Ruth Ware (“The Woman in Cabin 10”) — continually throws readers for a loop without end. Short chapters had this reader flipping the pages with no desire to stop, thanks especially to each chapter's cliffhangers. It might be a cheap trick, but it works.
But just when comfort starts sinking in, just when readers may think they know where the book is headed, Finn pulls the rug out from under them, not just raising the stakes but changing them entirely.
There’s no sense in spoiling that final twist, but know that it turns the novel on its head, reworking the entire plot with one simple stroke. All details of the story are thrown into a new perspective. It wouldn’t be surprising if readers went back and reread chapters of the book to gain a new outlook on what the story is about.
After all, it wouldn’t be a Hitchcock-esque story or modern-day thriller without a crazy twist, and Finn’s book delivers.
Though the novel’s ending holds up, the delivery does feel contrived and forced. All the book’s mysteries are answered, while also giving Anna her heroic moment that she so rightly earns.
But those answers are delivered in such an obvious and simple way that it doesn’t pack much heat or thrill. Rather, the answers are delivered in a cliche, villain-speaks-to-the-hero style — similar to many endings in Hitchcock's films.Comment on this story
Don’t sleep on this novel. Its title may indicate another modern thriller, but it’s anything but. "The Woman in the Window" is somehow both modern and old school, cliched and original. It’s the perfect blend of past and present — just the book for thriller and horror fans, or anyone looking for a book they can't put down.
Content advisory: "The Woman In The Window" contains mild depictions of violence, including use of deadly weapons and physical assault, as well as strong language, discussions of sexual assault and discussions of infidelity.