Dangerous Curves Ahead: The Woman in the Window is the thriller you want.

Get it at your library or bookstore or use the button for Amazon

Get it at your library or bookstore or use the button for Amazon

The Woman in the Window is the thriller you’ve been wanting for this year’s exciting reads list.  This is an extremely quick read, with short chapters and just enough scene description to keep the story rooted in a specific place.  The agoraphobia adds a good twist, with the protagonist’s psychologist profession giving the story an added layer.  Add in an affair, a car accident, alcohol, multiple prescriptions, the neighbor’s secrets, and a handsome tenant in the basement, and you have the recipe for a …well, you know where this is headed.

The writing is comprised of short, quick sentences; in fact, there are few real paragraphs.  This propels the book at great speed.  Also, the author, AJ Finn, uses the language of time a lot.  For fun, I flipped through about a dozen pages and saw multiple descriptions of a minute passing, a moment, half an hour, a reference to a certain time, etc…  When you put that together with the terse sentences, you become acutely aware of the mechanics behind how Finn makes the book work.  Here is one example based on the chiming of a grandfather clock:

    As he does, I watch his face. The grandfather clock starts to toll ten o’clock. I’m holding my breath.
    For a moment, nothing. He’s impassive. “Our street. At sunrise,” he says. “Or—wait, that’s west. So it’s sunse—
    He stops.
    There it is.
    A moment passes.
    He lifts his wide eyes to me.
    Six tolls, seven.
    He opens his mouth.
    Eight. Nine.
    “What—” he begins.
    “I think it’s time for the truth,” I tell him.

And then, three page turns later, we have the clock fill the silence right after a revelation, the sound adding more tension to a weighted silence:

    “And then?”
    “She left.”
    “She went back to her hotel?”
    Another shake of the head, slower.
    “Where did she go?”
    “Well, I don’t know then.”
    My stomach twinges. “Where did she go?”
    Again he lifts his eyes to me. “She went here.”
    The tick of the clock.
    “What do you mean?”

It’s quite well done, really, Finn’s use of the seemingly banal, unassuming tick of a clock, that one tick out of them all, which becomes so loaded.

In many ways, this book felt like a reflection of The Girl on the Train.  In one sense, disappointingly so; still, there are enough differences that you’ll mostly forgive the similarities and enjoy the ride.  There are twists you should see coming, and twists you may not.  I guessed the crux of the main plot long before it happened, but I was totally surprised by a twist I would normally see chapters ahead.  The pace of the narrative is so quick you sometimes don’t have time to think it out.  In addition, I had a real hard time accepting one action by the antagonist during the denouement, but otherwise enjoyed the book and it’s “dangerous curves ahead” plot line.  This book will land on the best thrillers of 2018 list and may be the book people start saying about their next thriller, “it’s like The Woman in the Window.”

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