A.J. Finn introduces us to Dr. Anna Fox, child psychologist and agoraphobe, in her debut novel, The Woman in the Window. As my friend said upon seeing the cover, it’s a mashup of The Girl on the Train and classic movie Rear Window.
Finn dives deep into the characterization of Anna, but only drips the whole truth out in tiny increments. She’s a likable character who tries to help people in her online agoraphobia forum. At the same time, she’s a nosy neighbor who points her zoom lens on all the neighbors who leave windows uncovered.
As the story progresses, we learn that Anna drinks more wine than she eats. Her medicine cabinet is full of strong concoctions—not to be taken with alcohol, of course. She’s got a downstairs tenant that she doesn’t know very well. And she’s separated from her husband, who also has her daughter.
While we learn about Anna, she’s learning about her new neighbors, the Russells. A small nuclear family of dad, mom, and teenage son, the Russells seem like the family Anna used to have. And the edges begin to blur as Anna gets to know young Ethan and his mom.
And then, tragedy strikes. Anna is caught in a web of intrigue and worry.
This was a runaway freight train book. Once I started, the train careened through craggy, curvy territory almost immediately. It was unputdownable.
Finn builds layer upon layer of plot points and characters. Even though Anna doesn’t leave her brownstone, she encounters plenty of people in the course of the novel. It’s up to us to decide who’s a good guy and what’s really happening.
I guessed a few plot points, and was blindsided by a few others. That’s a strong endorsement for this book. I love when an author can slam me down and take my breath away. I’m also looking forward to discussing this with my book club, since two of our members are psychologists like Anna. Finn includes many complex social and psychological issues—the agoraphobia is just a starting point.
If you need a good mystery to escape into, this would be a great choice!