Crime File: The Woman in the Window by A.J.Finn and Sign by Colin Dray

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn.

Agoraphobia has imprisoned child psychologist Anna Fox in her home in the more gentrified part of Harlem. Sustained by bulk-bought alcohol and a cornucopia of heavy-duty drugs she spends her time watching a cache of classic movies (think Hitchcock) and her neighbours, most recently, the Russells. Oh yes, and recovering from her booze/drug induced blackouts. Then one day she witnesses a crime. Or does she? Just when she/you think you/she’s got a handle on what’s going on, writer A.J. Finn (who’s actually called Dan Malloy) throws in another twist until you really don’t know what to believe. Including your own intuition.  The word unputtdownable is grossly overused in reviews. So is stunning, and elegant, gripping and suspenseful. Yet all apply here. And then some. Apparently The Woman in the Window, which is Finn’s debut novel, has been sold in 38 countries around the world. I’m amazed it’s not more. It is published byHarperCollins.

Sign by Colin Dray 

Twice, in quick succession, ten-year-old Sam’s world is thrown awry. First when his father
abandons them, leaving just a brief, typed note. Then when cancer robs Sam of his voice. Frustrated by trying to learn sign language he is reduced to communicate by writing on pieces of paper, becoming isolated within himself, and increasingly angry. As his mother struggles to cope with looking after the children and hold down her job her husband’s sister, Dettie, moves in to help. When Dettie suddenly bundles Sam and his younger sister Katie into her battered car and sets off on a “road adventure” across Australia to visit their father in Perth, at first it’s exciting.  But as Dettie’s actions become increasingly erratic, Sam is pleased when they pick up Jon, a hitchhiker with a engaging sense of humour, who sooths and cajoles his aunt. Even homesick Katie relaxes. But Sam’s sense of relief doesn’t last. And he can’t seem to make anyone understand the situation. Sign, Australian writer Colin Dray’s debut novel, combines both a sharply drawn sense of vulnerability, and menace. It is published by Allen & Unwin.

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