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The Woman in the Window

· 4 Stars,Mystery Reviews

The Woman in the Window

By A.J. Finn • ★★★★

A couple of years ago, The Woman in the Window was both a bestseller and a critical darling. After the hype—I read it before I found out about the movie—I wondered if it would hold up as well.

The good news: A.J. Finn has created a great compelling and sympathetic main character. Early on, we learn she suffers from agoraphobia and is no longer living with her husband and daughter. We also suspect that her narration is not wholly reliable.

Those familiar with Paula Hawkins' masterful The Girl on the Train will recognize many of the same tropes here: the alcoholism and denial that makes the narrator unreliable; the assumptions and the sexism that makes the protagonist's life more difficult, even if the assumptions are sometimes correct; and the sense that there's always very present physical danger lurking right around the corner, in spite of what others in the narrative say.

But, like The Girl on the Train, the execution is spot-on. The protagonist is heartbreaking, and even though I'd already figured out the twist of her personal life by the time she admits it to herself, it was no less emotional to read.

The actual murder itself feels like a B-plot compared to our protagonist's journey of self-discovery, though, and its own twists and turns are hard to swallow at times. Quite a lot of it depends on a conversation about personal passwords, and after that conversation—and a weird coincidence—I found it difficult to believe that our heroine takes no action. The twist of the murder plot, when revealed, felt a little too much as well.

Yet this is ultimately about the journey of discovery. In that sense, the book is wildly successful. It's easy to see why The Woman in the Window resonated with so many readers.  

—Paul Austin Ardoin

Top image by Cryptic C62 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14964907

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