Why read it: To find out what all the hype is about (5,000 reviewers on Amazon, 22,000 on GoodReads – and almost 200,000 ratings, four and half big stars). To prepare yourself for the mega Hollywood film adaptation, starring Amy Adams. A.J.Finn is now a rich man.
Why not to read it (spoiler alert). Because the book finishes with the hackneyed device of the ‘psychopath reveal’. Surprise, one of the most sympathetic characters in the book, whom the author has brilliantly connived us to care about, in whom we’ve invested our emotions, turns out to have been fooling us all along. Haha. How do we know this? Because he tells us so. “I know what I am,” and “I’ve been watching you” and”You’re so easy to manipulate”. A few brief pen strokes and we are supposed to believe that all of the characterization beforehand has been overruled by an assertion of fakery. Well, I didn’t buy it. In fact, I felt worse than a deflated balloon. All that energy invested in this book, and that’s it, that’s all we get? I should have known, however, because Gone Girl was much the same, followed by Girl on the Train, Girl in the Ice, Girl in the Window and now Woman in the Window. Does anyone see a trend here?
This, of course, is only my eccentric opinion, a lone voice crying in the wilderness. But it’s one of my pet peeves these days in mega-hyped, multi-copies-sold, soon-to-be-made-into-a-feature-film crime fiction- ending a book with the revelation that one of the main characters has been a devious psychopath all along – with no clues given us that this might be the case beforehand. It’s what I would call a cheap parlor trick and a cop-out, saving the author from creating a truly satisfying, humanly believable, complex and subtle resolution to the mystery. I felt cheated. Rant over.
But hey – 5,000 reviewers on Amazon can’t be wrong, and almost 200,000 on Goodreads, with 22,000 reviews (What?!!). So I am indeed a lone voice here and, truth to tell, I’ll be the first in line at the ticket office to see Amy Adams play the part, and -like Gone Girl (the film, not the book), I’ll probably really like it.
Capsule Review: From the publisher’s blurb:
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.
A tepid three stars from me – because the first 85% of the book was brilliantly written and really gripping. Just too bad about the cheap cop-out at the end. Give me Geraldine Evans any time.