The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn starts as a variance of Rear Window, the Hitchcock classic, but turns into so much more by the time you’re through. It follows Anna Fox, former psychologist, who has since been separated from her husband and daughter.
Hindered by an extreme fear of leaving her home, she’s sealed herself away in her Harlem home for many months. Descending into a pill- and wine-fueled depression, she entertains herself with classic movies— Hitchcock cloyingly included—and by watching the habits of her neighbors through her apartment windows.
She has a few friends, too. Her roommate beneath her keeps to himself, coming above infrequently and speaking in mono-syllabics. A physical therapist is the closest she gets to another person, only coming around to teach her stretches and sharing a bottle of wine after. Lastly there’s her husband Ed and daughter Olivia. Though separated, she talks to them over the phone in an effort to reconnect with them and perhaps get her marriage back on track.
Of course, the real plot starts when she spots one of her neighbors being murdered one dark night. She’s sent through the wringer as she digs further, trying to uncover who did it through the barriers of her own addiction. She’s helped—or deterred—by her friends and loved ones but tries to keep moving forward.
As with the previous book reviewed for the Berry, The Lost Night by Andrea Bartz, this is another book where to say too much more would be a spoiler, and this is one worth reading to the end, albeit with a few caveats. Finn’s choppy prose never quite won me over, with Anna’s internal voice speaking in short, concise sentences to the point of annoyance.
The characters are all there, with Anna taking most of the spotlight. Some of the side characters blended together somewhat with their voices all sounding just a little too same-y for my taste.
As a rule of thumb, you have your characters in a story do the smartest thing they’re capable of, and I felt that Anna’s addiction and isolation issues provide compelling reasons why she misses opportunities or gets distracted by a random pull from her DVD shelf.
Beyond the story-level elements, the messages presented by Finn are apparent on a first read and did not require too much thought to decipher. Instead it’s an effective book, getting the job done in just over 400 pages. A little lengthy, though the rapid-fire chapters kept me up later than I’d have liked. Just one more chapter was something I was telling myself late into the night. It’s a great way to keep readers turning the page and one which worked well for me.
Overall, I’d recommend The Woman in the Window to anyone with a taste for thrillers, especially ones with a bit more going on under the hood than many simple whodunnits. While it didn’t elicit a gut emotional response from me, the book left me thinking even after I finished it, something I don’t say about many thrillers.