Book review: ‘The Woman in the Window’ by A.J. Finn

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

Anna Fox has agoraphobia. She can’t leave her house, so she spends her days drinking wine, playing chess on her computer and watching her neighbors. A former psychologist, she also gives advice, via computer, to her fellow sufferers as, “thedoctorisin.”

While the wine drinking seems necessary to maintain her equilibrium, and she’s addicted to her black and white classic movies, her real passion is the drama produced in her neighborhood. Though she’s housebound, the telescopic lens on her Nikon camera puts her front and center.

Separated from her husband and daughter, she still manages to talk to them almost every day. Unfortunately, she seems incapable of taking her husband’s advice. Despite his best efforts, she still takes most of her prescriptions with merlot. The weekly meetings with her psychologist, necessarily in her home, have resulted in the prescriptions, but little actual progress.

This is the situation when the Russells move in nearby. The Russell family, Anna soon learns, consists of a husband, wife and teen son. With a clear view into much of their house, the Russells soon become the focus of her viewing. Unlike the other neighbors, the Russells learn of Anna’s proclivity to observe their lives. Mrs. Russell, Jane, stops over, and to Anna’s surprise, they seem to enjoy the same things. The afternoon is spent drinking wine and playing chess. Perhaps a Jane could be a friend; it’s no small thing for the housebound. And shortly thereafter, the teen son stops by, saying that his father makes family life difficult and asking if he might escape to Anna’s from time to time.

Anna discusses the situation with her husband and talks to her daughter. The change in the neighborhood was welcome, but not for long. As usual, Anna was looking through her camera at life at the Russells’. To her horror, she saw Jane get stabbed in the chest, her blood gushing and her desperate clawing at the front window.

Anna dialed 911 and made a desperate and failed attempt to leave her house and help.

When she finally was able to address the situation with the police, Anna was totally confounded. She explained what she had seen and sensed disbelief. And why not? — the Russells claimed that nothing had happened. With Anna’s reputation as an eccentric and a drunk, it was hard for her to be convincing. Add to that the fact that Jane Russell showed up and any discussion was moot. The problem was that this Jane Russell was someone Anna had never seen.

Eventually the fog clears, but probably not as you expect. Speaking of mysteries, be sure to check out this author.

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