...if The Woman in the Window achieves success, it will be entirely deserved. It’s a beautifully written, brilliantly plotted, richly enjoyable tale of love, loss and madness ... Although Finn’s plot must not be revealed, it’s fair to say that his characters are rarely who or what they first appear to be. And that his story ends with a series of mind-boggling surprises. The Woman in the Window is first-rate entertainment that is finally a moving portrait of a woman fighting to preserve her sanity ... With The Woman in the Window he has not only captured, sympathetically, the interior life of a depressed person, but also written a riveting thriller that will keep you guessing to the very last sentence.
Finn has carefully paced Anna’s internal narrative and intricately woven interactions (real or imagined?) and added a diabolical dimension that makes this story even more intense than Hitchcock’s Rear Window. And when the catalyst for Anna’s condition is ultimately revealed, it is far more traumatic than a broken leg. An astounding debut from a truly talented writer, perfect for fans in search of more like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.
Mallory also clearly knows a lot about the more diabolical elements in Hitchcock movies. And he hasn’t been shy, as Finn, about plugging them into his plot ... All of this is very familiar, to the point where The Woman in the Window starts off feeling ordinary. It reads too much like another knockoff while the author sets up his very basic story elements ... Once the book gets going, it excels at planting misconceptions everywhere. You cannot trust anything you read ... A book that’s as devious as this novel will delight anyone who’s been disappointed too often ... How well does it all hold up, once Finn’s cards have been fully played? Pretty well, but there are problems. An enormous surprise meant to arrive more than two-thirds of the way through the book was guessable even by me — a terrible guesser — almost from the start. One character has huge credibility problems. And the writing is serviceable, sometimes bordering on strange ... Finn knows commerce but he also knows the classics, old and new. He truly aspires to write in their tradition.
...the novel’s most compelling passages deal not with the Rear Window-inflected, credibility-straining mystery unfolding in a brownstone across the way but, rather, with Anna’s sense of herself as a wounded individual, a highly intelligent and educated person who has virtually destroyed her life through a succession of bad decisions ... she ultimately seems more a function of the plot than a fully realized person, not quite as interesting as her problems. Her interior voice is not especially female; it is, rather, genderless ... In the chorus of best-selling contemporary domestic thrillers, a triumphant #MeToo parable has emerged: that of the flawed, scorned, disbelieved, misjudged, and underestimated female witness whose testimony is rejected—but turns out to be correct. Vindication, cruelly belated, is nonetheless sweet.
Like all high-concept thrillers, The Woman in the Window can afford nary a misstep, or risk falling apart like a tower of playing cards. To the author's credit, the plot is very nearly airtight. And for all the narrative effects, Finn never loses touch with the fear and insecurity of a woman who has suffered a great loss and feels abandoned and alone in the world ... The book, which features a bunch of oddballs with hidden motives, including the young drifter renting her basement apartment and the troubled son of one of the Jane Russells, dips a bit when the laughs stop coming — a trap Hitchcock never fell into. But it's not a book you can easily put down.
[Finn] knows his classic movies (there’s even a character named Jane Russell!) ... I figured out two of the biggest 'reveals' in Window well before they were revealed, and Finn the cinephile’s taste for melodrama can get silly (doorbells ring, cellphones die, thunder crashes!) but there’s something irresistible about this made-for-the-movies tingler. Finn knows how to pleasurably wind us up.
The story moves slowly in the beginning as Finn develops his plot, setting things up several moves ahead much in the same way that Anna attacks the chessboard. Things kick into another gear when a new family moves in across the street … Finn knows what it takes to put out a sure-fire hit, and he delivered just that. The story itself, after settling into a groove that takes more than a hundred pages to dig out, is actually fairly predictable. Seasoned readers won’t be blindsided by any hard-hitting reveals or ‘gotcha’ moments. But they’re not needed, as Finn beautifully crafts his story, opting to rely more on character development than never-see-it-coming twists and turns.
AJ Finn’s debut novel, The Woman in the Window, is the latest addition to the Before I Go to Sleep/The Girl on the Train subgenre of psychological thrillers: woman whose brain is addled for whatever reason (booze; amnesia; medication) witnesses a crime ... It’s a nifty premise from Finn, the pseudonym of US books editor Daniel Mallory, pulled off classily; with book deals struck in 38 territories, and film rights sold to Fox 2000, it is already No 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
This page-turner from debut author A.J. Finn is consciously tailored to exploit certain narrative formulas of recent pedigree to boost its ascent up the bestseller lists, drawing on the currency left on deposit by the Gone Girl/The Girl on the Train school of popular fiction ...this novel is brilliantly crafted and liberally laced with character insights that ring wrenchingly true. It also glides along with quicksilver pacing through plot reversals, explosive revelations, and thrills-a-plenty surprises ... The Woman in the Window catches fire under its pseudonymous author’s deft pacing and spellbinding insight into his heroine’s psychological state — all this despite the novel’s too-familiar, made-for-bestseller components ... While this thriller takes a cynical glance backward at recent bestsellers, it’s still wondrously written. And more to the point, it resonates chillingly with the spring-loaded tension and ominous narrative drive that it shares with its cinematic forebears, specifically Hitchcock and the somewhat lesser-known auteurs of film noir.
The Woman in the Window, a psychological thriller from first-time novelist A.J. Finn, is perfect for exactly that: easy to lose yourself in, quick and fun to read, even if it’s not particularly groundbreaking ... Fans of Paula Hawkins’ 2015 The Girl on the Train and its subsequent movie version will be right at home with Woman in the Window. While the genre’s prerequisite twists are different in both, a lot of the beats of the earlier book are echoed in Mr. Finn’s work here: an unreliable, alcoholic narrator; obsession with the 'happy' lives of others; skeptical police and abandonment issues ... There’s also a hefty dose of cinematic influence, and the author makes connections explicit by interspersing the book’s action with lines from movies... The world that Mr. Finn builds is rife with vividly drawn setpieces and suspicious side characters, but the self-styled noir occasionally veers from homage to satire.
...in many ways, The Woman in the Window shares more DNA with last year’s sleeper hit tale of trauma and recovery and redemption, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman — which is to say that its central arc is less about its murder mystery than about the main character’s psychological healing. Which is a very good thing, because the mystery here is just okay ... The murder mystery here is a pure Golden Age of Hollywood pastiche, and part of the fun of it is playing spot-the-reference ... It’s possible to read this book voraciously, in long, luxurious gulps, but you don’t necessarily do it to find out what happens next. You know what happens next ... This story isn’t as witty and sparkling as its predecessor in Eleanor Oliphant, but it’s deeply felt — and the mystery of Anna’s trauma emerges in the book’s most chillingly horrifying set piece ... This is a book you can eat like candy.
The secrets of Anna’s past and the uncertain present are revealed slowly in genuinely surprising twists. And, while the language is at times too clever for its own good, readers will eagerly turn the pages to see how it all turns out.