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Book Nook - 29-01-2018

Monday, January 29, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

There are Lit Fests taking place all over the country, but the community of readers is dwindling. Still, passionate book lovers would like to know what others like themselves are reading. This Book Nook suggests some books, but would also like to connect with serious readers, or even casual airport book browsers. Do write in about books you have loved or hated and why. The best entries will be shared on this page. Please send your recommendations to

Hitchcockian Rollercoaster
It were possible for a debutant to write a bestseller, then A.J. Finn has done it; The Woman In The Window is a blockbuster of a book and on its way to the screen.

Finn (pseudonym of Dan Mallory) claimed in an interview to The Telegraph (UK), that he thinks like a woman, and his taut thriller with an agoraphobic woman at the centre perhaps proves that.

Unable to step out without getting a panic attack, child psychologist Anna Fox lives alone in a large house, drinks all day and spies on the neighbours through the lens of a camera. The set-up is Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window meets Paula Hawkins’ The Girl On The Train. Finn is quite happy to let his influences show—Anna is also a fan of classic black-and-white thriller movies (Vertigo, Gaslight are obvious inspirations)

She has a cat, a hunky tenant, David, in the basement, and weekly visits from her shrink and physiotherapist.  The reader learns that an accident was the cause of her separation from her husband and daughter, as also her current mental state.

When Anna is not watching films or chatting in an agoraphobes’ online support group, she peeks most avidly at new neighbours across the park—the Russells comprising husband Alistair, wife Jane and teenage son Ethan.

The story actually starts when Ethan drops by with a gift from his mother; the woman turns up miraculously when Anna needs help and befriends her. Then Anna sees her being stabbed from her window and manages to call the cops. In trying to reach Jane, she collapses outside her house and is taken to hospital. When she is brought back, there are no traces of a murder, Alistair brings his wife over and she is not the woman Anna met.

The kindly cop, a mountainous man called Little, helps Anna get home and settle in, but to the doctors and the police it seems that the cocktail of pills and wine that she has been swigging have led her to hallucinate the whole scene.

Layers are peeled off gradually, in short chapters, for the reader to get the whole picture of Anna’s life and that of the Russells, and build up to the climax. The astute reader would guess at who did it (maybe not the why), but the book is still heart-stopping, sad and thrilling all at once. Once picked up, it cannot be put down till the last page is turned. And that’s the mark of a good suspense novel.

The Woman In The Window
By AJ Finn
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 448


Excerpt of The Woman In The Window
THE car droned past a moment ago, slow and somber, like a hearse, taillights sparking in the dark. “New neighbors,” I tell my daughter.

“Which house?”

“Across the park. Two-oh-seven.” They’re out there now, dim as ghosts in the dusk, exhuming boxes from the trunk.

She slurps.

“What are you eating?” I ask. It’s Chinese night, of course; she’s eating lo mein.

“Lo mein.”

“Not while you’re talking to Mommy, you’re not.”

She slurps again, chews. “Mo-om.” This is a tug-of-war between us; she’s whittled Mommy down, against my wishes, to something blunt and stumpy. “Let it go,” Ed advises—but then he’s still Daddy.

“You should go say hi,” Olivia suggests.

“I’d like to, pumpkin.” I drift upstairs, to the second floor, where the view’s better. “Oh: There are pumpkins everywhere. All the neighbors have one. The Grays have four.” I’ve reached the landing, glass in hand, wine lapping at my lip. “I wish I could pick out a pumpkin for you. Tell Daddy to get you one.” I sip, swallow. “Tell him to get you two, one for you and one for me.”


I glimpse myself in the dark mirror of the half bath. “Are you happy, sweetheart?”


“Not lonely?” She never had real friends in New York; she was too shy, too small.


I peer into the dark at the top of the stairs, into the gloom above. During the day, sun drops through the domed skylight overhead; at night, it’s a wide-open eye gazing into the depths of the stairwell. “Do you miss Punch?”

“Nope.” She didn’t get along with the cat, either. He scratched her one Christmas morning, flashed his claws across her wrist, two quick rakes north-south east-west; a bright grid of blood sprang to the skin, tic-tac-toe, and Ed nearly pitched him out the window. I look for him now, find him swirled on the library sofa, watching me.

“Let me talk to Daddy, pumpkin.” I mount the next flight, the runner coarse against my soles. Rattan. What were we thinking? It stains so easily.

“Hey there, slugger,” he greets me. “New neighbors?”


“Didn’t you just get new neighbors?”

“That was two months ago. Two-twelve. The Millers.” I pivot, descending the stairs.

“Where are these other people?”

“Two-oh-seven. Across the park.”

“Neighborhood’s changing.”

I reach the landing, round it. “They didn’t bring much with them. Just a car.”

“Guess the movers will come later.”

“Guess so.”

Silence. I sip.

Now I’m in the living room again, by the fire, shadows steeped in the corners. “Listen…” Ed begins.

“They have a son.”


“There’s a son,” I repeat, pressing my forehead against the cold glass of the window. Sodium lamps have yet to sprout in this province of Harlem, and the street is lit only by a lemon-wedge of moon, but still I can make them out in silhouette: a man, a woman, and a tall boy, ferrying boxes to the front door. “A teenager,” I add.

“Easy, cougar.”

Before I can stop myself: “I wish you were here.”

It catches me off guard. Ed too, by the sound of it. There’s a pause.

Then: “You need more time,” he says.

I stay quiet.

“The doctors say that too much contact isn’t healthy.”

“I’m the doctor who said that.”

“You’re one of them.”

A knuckle-crack behind me—a spark in the fireplace. The flames settle, muttering in the grate.

“Why don’t you invite those new people over?” he asks.

I drain my glass. “I think that’s enough for tonight.”



I can almost hear him breathe. “I’m sorry we’re not there with you.”

I can almost hear my heart. “I am, too.”

Punch has tracked me downstairs. I scoop him up in one arm, retreat to the kitchen. Set the phone on the counter. One more glass before bed.

Grasping the bottle by its throat, I turn to the window, toward the three ghosts haunting the sidewalk, and hoist it in a toast.


This one is a delightful treasure trove of information, a collector’s item or perfect gift for general knowledge and trivia fans. It also beautifully designed and profusely illustrated. The summary states, “Be amazed. Be informed. Be Proud. Get to know about our country’s best in human endeavour, education, defence, government, adventure, cinema, literature and the arts, along with additional chapters on science and technology, business and economy, the natural world and structures.

“With a brand-new look and reader-friendly infographics, charts and tables, this photo-filled book now includes all the fascinating absolutes you always wanted – such as the longest, tallest, fastest and heaviest records that have stood steadfast across years and decades. Plus hundreds of exciting new records that mark our nation’s and its people’s move towards always bettering the best!”

Limca Book Of Records 2018
Publisher: Hachette
Pages: 432

The rate at which books meant for young readers are making it to the bestseller charts, means kids and teens are making an effort to read. Marissa Meyer, author of the bestselling The Lunar Chronicles has come up with Renegades, which will turn into a series too. Says the summary of Book 1: “Secret identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

“”The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies — humans with extraordinary abilities — who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

“Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice — and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.”

By Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Macmillan


Deadly Dolls
Melbourne-based writer Anna Snoekstra’s Little Secrets is a passable crime thriller set in the small town of Colmstock, from which aspiring journalist Rose Blakey is desperate to escape. As she dreams of a job in a newspaper, she works at a pub with her best friend Mia. Her stepfather Rob has given her the ultimatum to move out of the house within a week, and her mother is too weak to protest.  When Rose kid sister Laura finds a doll at her doorstep that resembles her, and other little girls do too, Rose sends off a piece to a tabloid, which is accepted. Since this happens soon after a child is killed in a major blaze in the town’s courthouse, people are agitated.
The town’s cops Frank (who loves Rose from afar) and Bazza (who is soft on Mia) are annoyed with the implication that a paedophile is on the loose and they cannot find him. Will, an outsider to the town, becomes prime suspect, and Rose, in order to impress the paper, adds fuel to the speculations. Later, she is unable to stop the series of tragic events that follow her padded up stories. A few red herrings some loose ends and a dash of romance pepper the quick, but forgettable read.

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