Much anticipation was built around the release of A.J. Finn’s debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Dubbed the next Gone Girl the thriller is yet another best-seller focused on the struggles of a mentally-troubled, unstable female protagonist – in this case Anna Fox. Finn (a pseudonym of Dan Mallory’s) has delivered an entertaining quick read that draws from recent titles such as Girl on the Train but also includes storytelling influences from classic films, namely Vertigo and Rear Window.
Direct references to the golden age of cinema, namely Fox’s habit of listing film names in everything she does, wears thin on the reader in the first half of the book. The aim, I presume, is to emphasise the isolation she faces in her agoraphobic state. Alone, Fox is forced to binge-watch classic films and thus experiences everything through that lens. However, because Finn takes a considerable time to set up the main action of the story it seems repetitive and pointless. The first third of the book could have been condensed to a few, well-crafted chapters, I believe.
However, as the action finally starts to unravel and heat up, these references become more brilliantly relevant as Finn draws influences exclusively from these titles. These are seen in the main murder and mystery, but also in subtle dialogue and characterisation. If the reader is a classic film buff like Fox (and presumably Finn himself) then they will find pleasure in the book’s ability to incorporate the best of the greats.
As for the twists and turns of this novel, they are predictable, formulaic and a little anti-climactic. They are well-crafted, however, and the reader is enthralled to continue reading, not necessarily because they can’t predict the great reveal but because they want Anna to finally experience it herself. I wanted to finish this novel, not for the mystery, but to see what becomes of Anna at the close. Finn’s focus on Anna’s mental health is important because it draws attention away from the cliche mystery.
The Woman in the Window is a juicy, quick summer read and a well-written debut novel. However, it is forgettable. I feel like I read the same bestselling story every year.
Let me know what you think about this bestseller.