“I press the Talk button. “Yes?” I call. Less inviting than Hello, more gracious than Who the hell?”
That’s Anna Fox for you. One of the most lovable main characters I’ve ever met in a thriller/mystery novel.
Her tone is undeniably funny and thoroughly enjoyable despite her unfortunate circumstances. Having agoraphobia, Anna is confined to her home twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, which sounds like it might make for a boring, stagnant story. Yet somehow, it isn’t at all.
Her personality makes up a lot of the intrigue. I continually wanted to hear more about her experiences and her thoughts. There is so much more to Anna than being the means to solve the mystery. She feels genuine, as though she’s a person I could actually meet in real life.
Through her camera lens, through her window, Anna is able to take a peek into her neighbors’ lives, the ups and downs, the big events—and the inexplicably terrible ones.
To be fair, I will say that the beginning of the book—the first hundred pages or so—doesn’t contain a whole lot of action. It drags at some points, but not for too long to make me lose interest. I genuinely liked hearing about Anna’s agoraphobia—a very real condition for so many people—and how it affects her life, how she developed it, and how she copes.
This also puts her in a unique position storytelling-wise, to be able to pay a vastly greater amount of attention to her surroundings—her neighbors and her neighborhood—than the average person. By not leaving her house for work, or to meet friends, or really anything else, we get to learn more about her neighbors than simply the fact that they exist, as happens in so many books.
Not to sound too book-nerdy, but I should also mention that I adore the setup of this book.
Nothing motivates me to read quite like a nice, short chapter, and this novel is chock-full of them. Each day is separated and labeled, and within each day are a number of few-page chapters.
Besides the motivation factor, short chapters allow me to quit reading almost whenever I want and pick up in a sensible location, without finding myself completely lost and having to reread. I probably added on a whole star just because of this.
Along with this concept, I love that the writing is easily understandable. It’s written thoughtfully yet simply, not utilizing unnecessary words for the heck of it.
Now, onto the mystery itself—in a sense, it’s kind of a double mystery.
Disclaimer: I did have a two “reveals” figured out early on, but I don’t know whether it was by chance, or if I’ve just read too many of these stories. Regardless, I still liked finding out that I was right. (It always makes me feel like a genius when I get these things on the first try!)
Now back to the mystery—or mysteries. Single, double, whatever you prefer to call it, it was fantastic.
The best part? It makes total sense.
I completely believe it.
Often times, the plots of mystery novels work out just a little too…perfect. Everything has to line up just right for every premeditated plan to work. But The Woman in the Window is different. It just flows together, so smoothly, so flawlessly. It’s almost spooky how I can picture the events happening in real life.
And no, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep the night after I finished the story.
And I checked the locks on my doors a couple more times than usual.
And my closet.
And under my bed.
And I was a little scared to walk into the dark kitchen.
But it was worth it.
Beyond my personal feelings about what scenes I would shorten up or lengthen, I really only had one issue with the story: the unnecessary sex scene.
Just why? Why, as a society, do we feel a mystery novel is incomplete without a strangely shoehorned intimate moment between characters? It was just awkward to read and, as it turns out, entirely unneeded.
All in all, I’m absolutely a fan of The Woman in the Window and A.J. Finn’s writing style. He gives such a unique voice to Anna that I won’t soon forget.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mysteries, thrillers, relatively simple writing, and nice, short chapters. It was an entirely enjoyable read that kept me wanting more all the way to the end.