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  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2018/01/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , , you won't see it coming   

    Why The Woman in The Window Is 2018’s First Must-Read Thriller 

    Twisty thrillers are easy to read, but they sure ain’t easy to write well—and when a debut thriller is the subject of serious buzz, with publishers competing fiercely for the chance to release it and discussions of who’s going to star in the film version long before the book has even hit the presses, the challenge is even greater, as readers come primed for shocking surprises and big reveals.

    That’s the precise scenario A.J. Finn’s debut, The Woman in the Window, finds itself in. The dark, twisty story of an agoraphobe who spies on her neighborhood, Rear Window-style, succeeds in fooling even the most expectant reader. In fact, it just might be the most surprising, crowd-pleasing thriller since Gone Girl. Here’s why.

    The Setup

    Anna Fox is a dedicated fan of old movies—especially thrillers and noir suspense tales. She’s also very self-consciously in the same position as Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window: compromised by an affliction—in her case, a severe case of agoraphobia—she spends much of her time sitting at the window that overlooks the park behind her house, using a camera lens to zoom in on her neighbors and watch their lives unfold.

    Finn smartly puts a button on this theme—Anna references old movies constantly, and dialogue from them shows up as background noise in key scenes, adding a dash of postmodern meta-fiction to a classic thriller setup: after she spies a new family’s arrival on the block (and does some light cyberstalking to learn they are the Russells: Alistair, Jane, and son Ethan), Anna answers her doorbell and meets Jane, who is friendly, cheerful, and vivacious. Later, as Anna drunkenly spies on the trio through their window, she witnesses a shocking crime…or does she?

    The Unreliable Narrator

    Anna calls the police in the midst of an agoraphobic panic attack so powerful she wakes in the hospital, and we begin to learn the depth of Anna’s problems. She drinks far too much, endlessly downing Merlot. She’s sloppy with the many medications she’s been prescribed by her full-time therapist—psychotropics with serious side-effects, including hallucinations.

    The Tailspin

    This all sounds crazy, and Finn allows Anna be perfectly aware of her own unreliable status. The Russells bitterly accuse her of stalking, and indeed, Anna’s behavior takes on the scent of the unhinged. As she continues to self-medicate with alcohol and poorly-managed prescriptions, her credibility is steadily destroyed, leading to a truly devastating and emotional reveal you won’t see coming, which convinces even Anna that she might be imagining things.

    The Deconstruction

    And that’s when the book’s hair-raising end game begins. It’s impossible to discuss the final act without spoiling it; needless to say, it piles on the reveals and reversals with dizzying speed. Finn handles this delirious series of plot turns so skillfully it’s hard to believe this is his debut. There are at least three moments the book could have ended on a satisfying note—only for Finn to throw in another swerve, with almost breathless glee.

    This is one of those thrillers that was born to be a film. The suffocating sense of tension, the meticulously explored, confined setting, the impressive control over plot and reveal—someday very soon The Woman in the Window will be hitting the big screen, and you’ll want to be in the know before it does. This is a crackling thriller that’ll have you gasping out loud. Pour yourself a glass of a good Merlot (skip the pills, though) and settle in for an all-nighter.

    The Woman in the Window is on B&N bookshelves now.

    The post Why The Woman in The Window Is 2018’s First Must-Read Thriller appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Danielle Herzog 4:00 pm on 2016/10/03 Permalink
    Tags: , christina dodd, , , you won't see it coming   

    Just Try to Put Down Christina Dodd’s Because I’m Watching: We Dare You 

    I’m a sucker for a broken man. Okay, not in real life. I mean, who actually wants a man who doesn’t shower and needs excessive amounts of therapy? However, in my fictional mind, like when reading Christina Dodd’s latest, Because I’m Watching, I adore a man who has been through things the average person cannot possibly imagine and needs the healing love and touch of a woman.

    But I’ve learned that what is even better than that man who is a broken, is a woman like Dodd’s Madeline Hewitson, a heart-wrenching characters who has both a past and present that are terrifying, psychotic and full of drama that goes beyond that in any other romantic suspense I have ever read.

    Madeline is the “crazy” neighbor across the street in the small town of Virtue Falls. And I don’t mean “crazy” as in zany and eclectic, I mean crazy as in “accused of murder and having witnessed the death of not only her roommates during college but also her fiancee years later”. Now, she can’t stop believing she is being watched and someone is out to finish the killing spree, with her.

    Watching her nightly outbursts, even when he tries not to, is Jacob Denisov. A veteran recluse battling PTSD, who longs to kill himself because he can’t get past the guilt and shame of the lives lost on his watch years before; lives that haunt him in the light of day.

    Together these two are an absolute train wreck. Or perhaps I should say, car wreck, considering they meet when Maddie drives her car into Jacob’s living room after falling asleep at the wheel. They are both tormented by memories of the past and can’t seem to find a way to find peace. Maddie fears the darkness of night and things she can’t see but can feel, and Jacob longs for the darkness, hiding from the light that would make him face the reality of what really happened while he was imprisoned in a military torture facility.

    Although they are each broken, they can be fixed. But of course, that can’t happen when a mad killer is still on the loose. As Jacob and Madeline get closer, it soon becomes obvious that he isn’t as introverted as he’d like to believe, and she isn’t as crazy as he once thought. But there’s still a psychotic person out there who is bound and determined for the world not to learn that; a person who strives to make Maddie lose her mind. And let me tell you something, that person is not at all who you think it is. I pride myself at figuring out mysteries half-way through a novel and this one broke that record in one fell swoop. I didn’t see it coming. Not one single bit.

    But it’s not just Maddie and Jacob’s story that’s worth reading. The Virtue Falls series continues to weave in characters from the first two books in the series, including Sheriff Kateri, as well as new characters and the entertaining and socially-challenged neighbors of this way-too-small community. Although part of a series, the book definitely stands alone. Though, now I definitely want to go back and read the others!

    Brace yourself for this latest by Christina Dodd. She is truly the master of dark, gut-wrenching, powerful novels with an incredible mix of romance, intrigue and a mystery that keeps you guessing until the end.

    Because I’m Watching is available now!

    The post Just Try to Put Down Christina Dodd’s Because I’m Watching: We Dare You appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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