Review: The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Erich Mayer

This novel, published by Harper Collins, is so much more than a psychological thriller.
Review: The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

A. J. Finn's The Woman in the Window via Harper Collins.

The author of this book, Daniel Mallory, was a senior editor at publishing house William Morrow when he submitted The Woman in the Window to publishers. To avoid a conflict of interest he submitted the manuscript under the gender-neutral pen name of A. J. Finn.

The eagerness with which publishers competed for this psychological thriller was obviously not influenced by Mallory’s reputation, but by their recognition that this was a potential bestseller. They were right because they recognised, without belittling the genre, that this novel is so much more than a thriller. It is a sensitive study of a person suffering with severe agoraphobia, caused by a traumatic experience. 

That person is Dr Anna Fox, who is housebound as a result of her mental illness. She self-medicates by excessive drinking and by overdosing on prescription medication that should not be taken with alcohol.

When Anna witnesses what she believes to be a crime she has problems getting the police to believe her because of the state she is in. What she thinks she has witnessed may well be a hallucination – a side-effect of the drugs on which she has been overdosing.

Anna is still an experienced psychologist who used to work with children. She spends her time, expensive camera in hand, spying on the neighbours. But that is not all she does. On the internet she gives helpful advice to troubled people of all ages. Anna is also learning French via Skype. She plays a good game of chess against unknown internet opponents. She is visited regularly by her doctor and by her physical therapist. She interacts sporadically with David, the lodger who lives in her basement. She obsessively watches classic black-and-white movies. She is a mess and she knows it and yet has more than a few moments of clear thinking.

What makes this thriller stand out is the cleverly presented drip-feed of information, interspersed with the stories of Anna’s mostly drunken activities. So the reader is constantly on edge worrying about what Anna will do next and eager to learn more of what brought her to where she is.  

As Anna gathers and discards evidence the reader is driven from one suspect to another but remains unsure whether indeed a crime has been committed at all. That everything becomes revealed in the end is an essential part of this genre – but not before an abundance of twist and turns keeps the reader engrossed throughout.

Rating: ★★★★ 

The Woman in the Window

By A. J. Finn

Harper Collins

Product Details

ISBN: 9780008234164

Imprint: HarperCollins - GB

On Sale: 15/01/2018

Pages: 448

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Erich Mayer is a retired company director and former organic walnut farmer. He now edits the blog