If you’re looking for a January read with great atmosphere that oozes suspense and is simply impossible to put down, you need look no further than The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn.
The story centers on Anna Fox, an agoraphobic woman living alone in New York City. Separated from her husband and daughter, Anna is lonely and spends her days drinking wine and watches her neighbors when she isn’t watching old black-and-white movies. Unable to leave her house, Anna’s world is small, yet safe and predictable, until she sees something frightening happen at her neighbor’s house one night. Or did she? Was it real, or—as others suggested—just something she imagined?
I’m not going to discuss any specifics about the plot, but I will say that the descriptions I’ve seen of this book being regarded to as a “Hitchcockian thriller” are absolutely appropriate. Anna’s life begins to echo, somewhat, the old movies she’s so fond of watching. There is a menacing atmosphere that hovers around Anna throughout most of the book, steadily building until it reaches a terrifying crescendo.
This was a gripping read that was well worth the hours of sleep I lost when I couldn’t stop reading “just one more chapter.”The suspense had me on the edge of my seat, the plot twists never failed to shock me, and the ending was extremely satisfying for this reader.
Finn’s writing was superb throughout, and I especially appreciated the atmosphere he created throughout the story. It was deliciously creepy much of the time, and I enjoyed it immensely. The fact that this is Finn’s debut novel is simply stunning to me. If his first novel is this good, I can’t WAIT to see what he comes up with next!
Highly recommending this book to everyone. You don’t want to miss out on this one!
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, mother, their teenaged 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.
Twisty and powerful, ingenious, and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.
I’m very excited to share an excerpt of Jody Gehrman’s upcoming novel, Watch Me, which will be released on January 23, 2018 by St. Martin’s Griffin. I’m looking forward to reading this one soon, and I hope all of you will be as eager to read it as I am after reading this deliciously thrilling passage!
“Riveting, chilling, and page-turning. Be prepared to stay up all night.” — New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline
For fans of dark and twisty psychological thrillers, Watch Me is a riveting novel of suspense about how far obsession can go.
Kate Youngblood is disappearing. Muddling through her late 30s as a creative writing professor at Blackwood college, she’s dangerously close to never being noticed again. The follow-up novel to her successful debut tanked. Her husband left her for a woman ten years younger. She’s always been bright, beautiful, independent and a little wild, but now her glow is starting to vanish. She’s heading into an age where her eyes are less blue, her charm worn out, and soon no one will ever truly look at her, want to know her, again.
Sam Grist is Kate’s most promising student. An unflinching writer with razor-sharp clarity who gravitates towards dark themes and twisted plots, his raw talent is something Kate wants to nurture into literary success. But he’s not there solely to be the best writer. He’s been watching her. Wanting her. Working his way to her for years.
As Sam slowly makes his way into Kate’s life, they enter a deadly web of dangerous lies and forbidden desire. But how far will his fixation go? And how far will she allow it?
A gripping novel exploring intense obsession and illicit attraction, Jody Gehrman introduces a world where what you desire most may be the most dangerous thing of all.
Excerpt of WATCH ME
There’s a key turning in your door. Adrenaline shoots through my body so fast I get a head rush.
For a second, my impulse is to stand my ground. I long to greet you and welcome you in and cook for you and ask about your day and massage the kinks from your taut shoulders and scold Emily for jumping onto your lap when it’s your turn to be petted, to be loved.
But of course none of that can happen, not yet. If you find me like this, I’ll be suspect—worse than suspect. I’ll be caught. And even though I know in my heart there’s nothing sinister about my presence here, you don’t. You won’t see it that way.
I don’t blame you. My impatience with the distance between us grows more intense every second, though.
You’re in the foyer now, closing the door. Any moment you’ll turn and see me. My heart pounds against my ribcage like a crazed dog throwing itself against a fence. I dash up the stairs, willing my boots to stay silent. If you could see me now, you’d be impressed. I’ve got stealth. My criminal instincts are honed. The good girl in you can’t help but be turned on by that. Maybe if you catch me, you’ll find it sexy.
But no. Not going to happen.
You can’t see me.
I have to disappear.
Everything’s riding on this. My pulse races.
Without thinking, I run into the first room at the top of the stairs: the bathroom. Your smell is heavy in here, a tropical storm of Kateness. I creep inside the tub and, careful not to make a sound, pull the shower curtain closed.
I hear you walking up the stairs. You’re humming. It sounds like “Wild Nights” by Van Morrison—one of my favorite songs. That has to mean something.
There’s a preoccupied cadence to your footsteps. I picture you flipping through mail, your brow furrowed in that tiny apostrophe of concentration. You probably have your reading glasses perched on the end of your nose. I ache for you. I peak around the curtain just enough to catch a glimpse of your slender bare feet reaching the top of the staircase and making a left toward your bedroom. I hold my breath, letting the curtain fall back into place.
Why didn’t I slip out when I had the chance? If you find me here, everything’s fucked.
I let my cockiness get out of hand.
From now on, I resolve to be more careful.
You’re in the bedroom, still humming. Definitely “Wild Nights.” I close my eyes and lean my head against the cool white tile. My heart continues to race. My breathing’s ragged. I can hear you searching through drawers. You must be looking for your yoga pants, your wife beater. Your humming turns to singing in the bedroom. There’s the sound of coat hangers clicking against one another. Your voice is husky and rich.
Out of nowhere, a ripple of calm washes over me. This is how it will be when we live together. You’ll be in the next room singing while you change clothes. I’ll step out of the shower, wipe steam from the mirror. I’ll walk into the bedroom, a towel wrapped around my waist. You’ll glance over your shoulder at me, your face lighting up as you pull your tank over your head. I’ll sit on the bed and rub my damp hair, caught between the need to touch you and the simple pleasure of watching you from across the room.
You drop something—your phone? The sound jolts me back to the moment. I need to go right now, while you’re still in the bedroom.
I can’t, though. With your scent in the air, your off key song in my ears, there’s too much anchoring me to the spot. We’re so close right now. I’m in your world, and even though I haven’t been invited, your nearness fills me like a drug.
Oh, God. You’re in the bathroom. You turn on the faucet at the sink. Fuck, this is torture. You’re so close.
So fucking close.
I listen to you brushing your teeth. Smell the minty freshness of your toothpaste. You gargle. Spit.
My breath catches in my throat as you fall silent. What are you doing now? You’re motionless. Are you eyeing the shower curtain? Maybe it’s not as opaque as I thought. You can see my silhouette. You’re standing there, still as a tree, holding your breath, staring at my outline in the pearly white curtain. Any second now you’ll yank open the plastic and—
Oh, God, I can’t stand it, I’m going to—
Wait. You’re leaving.
I exhale in dizzy relief as your bare feet patter back into the hallway and down the stairs.
When I hear NPR come to life in the kitchen, I decide it’s now or never. The stairs end in the downstairs hallway opposite the kitchen, so it’s risky. I have to chance it. Let’s pray you’re in the pantry or at the stove, your back to me. I lift first one foot, then the other, out of the tub, moving like a mime. Every step requires extreme control. My system’s still flooded with adrenaline; my muscles ache to take the stairs at a dead run. In spite of the radio, the oak planks will make way too much noise if I hurry. There’s a window at the landing. I catch sight of your neighbor’s children in the side yard—two little girls. They’re playing a game involving plastic guns. Like marionettes controlled by the same hand, their tiny blonde heads swivel toward me. We stare at one another through the glass for a long moment.
I need to get out of here.
There’s a bad moment at the bottom of the stairs. You’re not in the pantry. Not at the stove. You’re at the sink. All it would take for you to catch sight of me is a quick sideways glance.
Again, the crazy injustice of our situation hits me. I know you better than anyone, Kate, yet I’m forced to run away like a thief.
I hurry toward the front door.
Just as I’m closing it behind me, lunging for the porch steps, I hear you say, “Hello? Is someone there?”
Jody Gehrman is a native of Northern California, where she can be found writing, teaching, reading, or obsessing over her three cats most days. She is also the author of eleven novels and numerous award-winning plays. Her debut suspense novel, Watch Me, is due out in 2018 with St. Martin’s Griffin. Her adult novels are Bombshell, Notes from the Backseat, Tart, and Summer in the Land of Skin. Her Young Adult novels include The Truth About Jack, Audrey’s Guide to Black Magic, Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft, Babe in Boyland, Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty, and Triple Shot Bettys in Love. Babe in Boyland was optioned by the Disney Channel and won the International Reading Association’s Teen Choice Award. Her plays have been produced or had readings in Ashland, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and L.A. She and her partner David Wolf won the New Generation Playwrights Award for their one-act, Jake Savage, Jungle P.I. She is a professor of Communication at Mendocino College.
Kat and Nick are on the verge of giving up on their dream to become parents. Unable to have a child of their own, they decided to adopt a baby instead—only to be crushed after the adoptions failed to go through not once, but twice. Then Kat unexpectedly sees her old friend, Lisa—whom she hasn’t spoken to in years, for reasons readers aren’t privy to until later in the book. Rather than the upset she expected, the two women fall back into their friendship as though their estrangement never happened. The despair Kat feels over not having a child changes to hope when Lisa offers to be a surrogate for Kat and her husband. Her dream is about to come true… or is it? Lisa begins to do things that make Kat suspicious, and she wonders if her past is coming back to haunt her, but she could never have foreseen the horror that awaited her.
The Surrogate doesn’t waste any time in grabbing the reader’s attention, kicking off at a crime scene with two bodies and a murder investigation. The identity of the victims, along with how (and why) they died isn’t revealed until the end, but the ultimate reveal is WELL worth the wait. Holy guacamole… what a fantastic ending!
I’ve been a fan of Jensen’s since the start, and I loved reading both The Sister and The Gift. With a twisty plot, complex characters, and a story rooted in a poignant desire for motherhood that’s guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings, The Surrogate is her best effort yet. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!
If you haven’t been reading any of these fantastic books… what are you waiting for? Like I said when she released her debut novel… you need to put Louise Jensen on your Author Radar. She is definitely deserving of a prime spot in your list!
‘You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you’d kill for it?’
Be careful what you wish for…
Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.
But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.
And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.
As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family…
About the Author
Louise Jensen always wanted to be Enid Blyton when she grew up, and when that didn’t happen she got a ‘proper’ job instead.
Several years ago an accident left Louise with a disability and she began writing once again, to distract her from her pain and compromised mobility. But writing turned out to be more than just a good distraction. Louise loves creating exciting worlds, dark characters, and twisted plots.
Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, sons, a madcap spaniel and a rather naughty cat, and also teaches mindfulness.