A.J. Finn’s “The Woman in the Window”

[bwwpp_book sku=’97800626784160000000′]  A. J. Finn’s debut psychological thriller The Woman in the Window is about child psychologist Anna Fox who has a bad case of agoraphobia. Confined to her refurbished brownstone in Harlem she uses her Nikon to take photographs of her neighbours. It is very reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s storytelling particularly Rear Window. The resemblance is probably intentional as Dr Fox is addicted to watching black and white films of the past, many of the classic Hitchcock films are her perennial favourites. She suffers from depression as well so is constantly on a cocktail of prescription chemicals that are constantly being titrated by her doctor. He has to constantly advise her not take alcohol as she is fond of drinking Merlot. ( To her delight she has discovered that for an agoraphobic person like her it is convenient to order cartons of Merlot online and it will be delivered at home.) Otherwise she whiles away her time participating in online group chats with other agarophobic patients and playing chess.

The Woman in the Window is about Anna Fox who is confined at home out of choice and the supposed murder she witnesses across the street. Unfortunately she has a hard time persuading neighbours and the police that it is true and not a hallucination under the deadly influence of medicines and alcohol. The story takes a while to build up though the details are fascinating. It is only about 100 pages into the story that it zips along. It is being promoted to be a thriller in the same vein as Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. The chapters are short, sometimes only a few paragraphs, a form of writing apparently influenced by James Patterson’s writing.

A. J. Finn’s debut is being much talked about as it was sold in a hotly contested auction only to be won by William Morrow in a deal worth seven figures. The movie rights have been sold to Fox 2000 to Hollywood producer Scott Rudin who won an Oscar in 2008 for the adaptation of Tom McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men. It is rumoured that Kate Winslet is in the running for the lead role. So far the book has already been sold in 38 book markets. A.J. Finn is the nom de plume for publishing executive Daniel Mallory who used to work at William Morrow but after the runaway success of his manuscript he has quit his day job. Instead he is focussing on writing his next novel. he is being represented by Felicity Blunt, Curtis Brown Literary Agency, sister to actress Emily Blunt who acted in the film version of Girl on a Train.

The Woman in the Window is also the first debut novel to have made it immediately to the NYT Bestseller List in nearly 12 years. Undoubtedly the influence of Hitchcock exists in the story not necessarily due to the constant references to his films. Though the story is a story that has been told many times before and there are sufficient hints in this novel itself to old films to how the plot is going to develop, yet there it rings true for the character sketch of Anna Fox. Apparently Daniel Mallory suffers from bipolar disorder and had been misdiagnosed for a very long time. So the descriptions of Anna and her breakdown are to a large extent “authentic”. Otherwise the plot itself is very thin and relies heavily on many details being shielded from the reader until the explosive conclusion. A very old fashioned trick. Be that as it may it is a book that will be read, watched on screen and talked about for a long time for the richness of detail and the pitch perfect suspense.

A. J. Finn The Woman in the Window HarperCollins Publishers, London, 2018. Pb. pp. 430 Rs 399 

12 March 2018 

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