Top critical review
Not worth any of the hype
20 July 2019
Ugh. Where do I start?
Okay… Good stuff. Our heroine, child psychologist Doctor Anna Fox, has agoraphobia which means she cannot go outside her house without having a panic attack. Anna’s condition creates an atmosphere of isolation (always a great trope in thrillers) without actually placing her in the snowbound cabin in the woods. The writer also gives Anna a background that would credibly give her the phobia.
Anna’s days, isolated in her own house, are spent talking to others with agoraphobia online, playing chess (also online), and watching old black and white crime/mystery movies. Oh, and she also pops pills like lollies, drinks copious amounts of wine, and photographs her neighbours without their permission.
The movie references are great. Anna basically solves most of the mystery plot by rewatching scenes from her favourites. AJ Finn overall borrows heavily from the plots of the movies Anna watches, especially Rear Window, Vertigo, Shadow of a Doubt and Gaslight.
Now… Less than good stuff. The plot twists were obvious. There’s two major ones, I suppose you’d say, and I guessed them both by the first third of the book at least. *yawn*
Talking of yawning… The next thing I have to complain about is Finn’s annoying habit of making objects make weird sounds with his tags. Every window and door, for example, ‘yawned’. It felt clever in the first couple of chapters but after that it just got on my nerves. Less is more.
Next complaint is about the romantic subplot. Or lack thereof. I could tell the writer was a man from the gratuitous sex scenes which were not only oddly placed and paced, there was actually zero need for them. Awful, awful, awful.
My final whinge is the length of the book. I might have had more love for the book if it was half its size. Really, there is no way this book should be so long. There are patches where nothing happens or, alternatively, places where it felt like Anna/Finn was repeating themselves over and over. Scene after scene of boring dialogue and/or Anna’s thoughts. I know enough about sleeping pills to even be tempted to take one just to numb myself from the tedious patches of writing. If I'd been editing, I’d had advised cutting the book size.
I suppose, overall, the book is readable and I can imagine it will make a good movie. But it’s nothing original and the writing style was not the best.
I would probably not rush out to read Finn’s next offering.
2 out of 5