The Woman in the Window

A.J. Finn's debut, The Woman in the Window, is a remarkably assured, compelling white-knuckle, cat-and-mouse psychological thriller. Fans of Shirley Jackson's neurotic heroines and Margaret Millar's explorations of loneliness, isolation and paranoia will rejoice in discovering Dr. Anna Fox, an agoraphobic alcoholic and former child physiatrist. She has not left her four-level Harlem townhouse in nearly a year. She is also the definition of an unreliable narrator as she self-medicates with copious amounts of anxiety and depression prescription pills, usually taken with a glass--or entire bottle--of merlot.

Separated from her husband and daughter, Anna's days and nights are filled with watching her favorite noir movies, playing online chess and ministering to people in her online agoraphobia support group. She also watches her neighbors through her telephoto camera lens, like James Stewart in Rear Window. She witnesses one of her neighbors being stabbed to death, but the police find no signs of violence and the neighbors insist no such woman lived there. Is she hallucinating, or has there been a murder?

Chock full of delicious red herrings, jaw-dropping twists and revelations, The Woman in the Window is a sinister and clever nail-biter. Anna Fox is a marvelous, complex and engaging heroine. Film noir fans will pick up extra clues as some of Anna's film choices (Shadow of a Doubt; Midnight Lace) hint at twists to come. Finn (a pseudonym for William Morrow v-p and executive editor Dan Mallory) has written a tense, darkly funny, psychologically sound thriller. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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