Greetings, Bibliophiles! Welcome to Finicky Fyction!
The book I'm raving about straight out the gate is The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn*.
*Fair warning: there ARE spoilers ahead!
Trigger Warning: Mental illness is heavily referred to in this novel, specifically agoraphobia. Also, the main character is an alcoholic with a pill addiction as well, not adhering to the recommendations of her psychiatrist. If you or someone you love suffers from one or more mental illnesses and you feel they are not using the appropriate coping skills available to them, please research the National Alliance on Mental Illness for resources on how you can help your loved one find their light. Also, there is a scene that involves animal abuse near the end of the story. That is not discussed in this review - it's just a heads up in case that is something you may not be able to handle reading.
Published in 2018, this twisted story could easily be categorized with Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train. It follows Dr. Anna Fox, a child psychologist who becomes a pill-poppin', alcoholic agoraphobe. Now, before moving forward, I want to praise Mr. Finn's ability to use mental illness to build Anna's character, versus using it as a character flaw to tear her down and have everyone look at her as though she's 'crazy'.
And they do. Oh boooy, do they!
Anna's been living in her house all by herself, not daring to step foot outside following a tragic car accident involving her husband Ed and their daughter Olivia, aka Livvy. Dr. Fielding, Anna's psychiatrist, is constantly checking in with her to ensure she's not overconsuming alcohol while relying on a cocktail of pills that are meant to help keep her balanced; we're talking temazepam, imipramine, and Xanax - just to name a few! So of course, one - especially the reader - would assume that everything Anna has been seeing isn't really there...
...or is it?
That's the million dollar question throughout the novel.
Along with her overconsumption of alcohol and pills, Anna's favorite past-time - in recent months, at least - is spying on her neighbors. She knows the ins-and-outs of their everyday lives; one would think she knows them all personally.
But she doesn't; not really.
She knows all there is to know about the Millers, the Grays, the Takedas, and the Russells.
Especially the Russells: Alastair, Jane, and young Ethan.
After a venturous night out of the house, Anna suffers a severe panic attack and all but passes out in front of her home. Jane sees her, rushes to her aid. She guides Anna back inside and helps her get her bearings straight. They spend hours together, getting to know one another.
At least, Anna thinks she does...
Until one night she hears a scream from across the park, emanating from 207. It's Jane - she's been stabbed!
No one believes her. Not Detectives Little and Norelli, not Alastair; not even Dr. Fielding, Ed, Livvy, or Bina (Anna's workout coach).
Ethan does. Sort of...kind of.
But not in the way Anna thinks.
This where I'll stop sharing any potential spoilers because really, the twists that happen in the second half of the book make it seem like Mr. Finn's played a mean game of "Haha, gotcha!"; because just when you think you've got it figured out, he twists the knife - or the letter opener, as it were - leaving you wondering how you could have missed those breadcrumbs from earlier in the story.
I've rated this book a 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I don't give full 5-star reviews very often, but this novel has EASILY weaseled its way into my Top 5 favorites of all time.
If you love psychological horrors, thrillers, and suspense, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn is the perfect read for you!