A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window is one of the most buzzed up books of 2018. It’s been on every “most-anticipated” list I read and has blurbs from Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, and Ruth Ware amongst other big money mystery writers.
I did not get one. Instead I got a big bucket of tropes, cliches, and disappointment. Boy is this one a stinker.
First of all, and I’m not being spoilery in revealing this, the climactic scene literally happens on a dark and stormy night. Such garbage. The worst part is that it takes entirely too many words and too many silly, seen-it-coming reveals to get to that point. This is 448-page honker that did not earn its length.
We open with Anna Fox, an agoraphobic, merlot-drinking former child psychologist who hasn’t left her apartment in a year and uses a fancy digital camera with a super zoom lens to spy on the neighbors. Did I mention she likes merlot? Because she does, a lot. In fact, if you were to drink some merlot every time Anna mentions merlot you’d be dead from alcohol poisoning. Somehow Anna does not die from all that wine, or the fact that she uses it to wash down all the pills her psychiatrist has prescribed her.
Oh? Another thing about Anna, she’s estranged from her husband and daughter and she also loves old Hitchcock (and his ilk) movies. Anna lives her life with little face-to-face human contact she only sees her doctor, her tenant, and her physical therapist. . . there’s “mysterious” accident she’s recovering from and I use those quotes sarcastically because if you can’t see that accident coming and the fall out from it, well then you aren’t paying attention because it’s as obvious as the merlot (MERLOT!) in Anna’s glass. She also likes to provide support for other agoraphobics online and plays the random game of chess with people on the Internet.
So when a new family move in across the park from her, Anna’s pretty pumped. One day the new neighbor randomly drops by to meet Anna, and they get day drunk together, because of course.
One night Anna sozzled on merlot and pills (MERLOT!) sees the lady she got drunk with across the way getting stabbed by her husband. Or at least she thinks she sees that. Who knows? The police don’t believe her. The woman she saw murdered may or may not exist. Nobody knows what the hell is going on.
Could you barf from all the cliche yet? I could.
I mean, if you’re into super unreliable narrator who is constantly chemically-altered and questioning her own sanity while mixing wine and pills daily, then eat this one up. If you’re into super obvious reveals that are given heightened drama purely because the author prolonged it for pages and pages, then by all means. But if you want something that keeps you guessing, that is fresh and feels like it’s about real people, then go find something else. This is not the book for you.