review: Marla Cantrell
By A.J. Finn | William Morrow | 427 pages | $27
Meet Anna Fox, a woman who drinks too much, mixes her multiple prescription drugs with alcohol, and spends hours watching old black-and-white suspense movies like Gaslight and anything with Hitchcock’s name on it.
She lives in a gentrified neighborhood in Harlem, and is obsessed with her neighbors, particularly the Russells, a family of three who just moved in. In the hours when she’s not training the zoom lens of her camera on their uncovered windows, she’s online playing chess or in a chat room for people with agoraphobia, a condition that surfaced in Anna after an unnamed tragedy stalled her life.
But before that, she was a therapist who worked with children. Now, she can’t even leave her house. More troubling than that is the fact that her daughter is living with her dad, the man Anna loves but is separated from. Her only companions are her cat, the man she rents a room to, and the wine she has delivered by the case.
One day, something amazing happens. She makes friends with Mrs. Russell, who visits Anna, spilling secrets and matching Anna’s drinking glass for glass. Mrs. Russell’s husband has a temper and is controlling. Their son, a teenager who’s homeschooled, isn’t even allowed a cellphone and spends a great deal of time alone in his upstairs bedroom.
The visit doesn’t stop Anna from spying on her new friend, and one day she sees a crime unfold inside the Russells’ house, an event that causes the police to get involved. They investigate but find nothing amiss. When they come to Anna’s house to question her, they see the collection of pill bottles on her coffee table, the open bottles of wine. Her story doesn’t hold much weight.
Even Anna doubts herself, wondering if she had been hallucinating. But then the Russell boy shows up at her door, frightened of his father and looking for comfort.
As the thriller unfolds, everyone comes into question. Anna’s renter has a dark past, for instance. Mr. Russell has much to hide. And Mrs. Russell, well, just who is Mrs. Russell?
Before the book ends, Anna will face the fight of her life because of what she saw. Will she survive? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Already, there’s a movie in the works. As you read you can imagine these heart-pounding scenes playing out on the Silver Screen. If you liked Girl on a Train or Gone Girl, you’ll love The Woman in the Window. It is a bit different because it plays heavily on the noir genre of classic thrillers like Rear Window and Vertigo.
This is the perfect book to take on your spring break trip. That is if you’re not too frightened to stay up all night reading. It’s that hard to put down.