Tuesday, September 11, 2018

CRC Blog Analysis on THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by A.J. Finn "The Widescreen World of Dr. Anna Fox"

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**excerpts from "the woman in the window" are in this highlight 

CRC Analysis on A.J. Finn’s
New York Times Bestseller
the woman in the window

“The Widescreen World of Dr. Anna Fox”     

William Morrow published A.J. Finn’s (pseudonym for Daniel Mallory) (https://www.facebook.
com/ajfinnbooks/) psychological crime thriller the woman in the window (https://www.amazon.com/
1534887609&sr=8-1) on January 2, 2018 with book designed by Bonni Leon-Berman (https://www.facebook.com/
     In December of the previous year something happened to former child psychologist Anna Fox leaving her physically and psychologically damaged.  When one looks at the 38 year old face they see pale skin crowned with dark brown hair with gray highlights and putted eyes, but on deeper inspection, she is just a tatter of the face she was once before, only stitched back together, barely holding on.  (Left:  artwork and copyright permission by Christal Ann Rice Cooper granted for this CRC Blog Post Only) 
     She is an alcoholic, a drug addict, and suffers from PTSD, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, depression, survivor’s guilt, trauma, terror,  and she is an  agoraphobia, which makes her a recluse and a prisoner in her own millions dollar four-story brownstone, facing Gramercy Park in Manhattan. (Below)
    Each of the four floors of the brownstone has its own function and purpose: the fully furnished basement with
kitchen and bath being rented by the young, mysterious, attractive David.  His main  job is to look after her,  
and do chores that require going outside; First Floor fully furnished kitchen, tomato red
bathroom, and living room with a door that leads to the patio garden where a young ash tree grows fully in the far corner; Second floor consists of the library and Anna’s office which includes the blue heavenly
rapture half bath; Third Floor consists of the master bedroom, master bath, guest bedroom and en-suite; and Fourth Floor is her daughter’s bedroom and guest bedroom.  
The entire four floors are almost covered with glass windows giving Anna access to the lives of
the inhabitants of the five townhouses she spies via her Nikon D5500 with Opteka lens camera.  And what she doesn’t observe
through that Opteka lens, Anna utilizes the best computer technology to discover personal histories about her neighbors, ex-friends, and ex-coworkers  – their financial records, their personal lives, their career lives, and their past and present residences.  She is the modern day detective and the reader has to admit – Anna Fox has the gift. 

     It is however Halloween Day and Anna is focused on conversing with her husband Ed and their daughter Olivia, 8, who is a ghost for Halloween.  Ten months ago Ed and Olivia moved out of the brownstone and Anna misses them terribly and treasures every visit and phone call she receives from her separated husband and daughter. 

When not communicating with Ed and Olivia, Anna still has a regular routine.  She gets up at 11 a.m. and drinks dark red merlot all day and all night.  She also takes her rainbow collection of prescribed medication, more than
she can count with two hands, daily – but not following the directions – sometimes twice too much, sometimes triple too much, and other times she just grabs a handful and pops it in her mouth and swallows with her merlot, that dark red wine
that she orders in bulk once a month. She spends time on her computer in chat rooms with other individuals who
have mental issues particularly issues of Agoraphobia, and she experiences affirmation when she gives them advice. She also takes her daily on-line French lessons and chess lessons and gives her cat Punch plenty of attention.
     Every Tuesday her psychiatrist Dr. Julian Fielding meets her in the third floor library for her 45 minutes sessions.  Every Thursday her physical therapist Bina shows no mercy and gives her painful but much needed therapy for her broken body. 
     The remains of the day she spends watching movies on her big screen television religiously, fervently:  The Adams Family, Airplane, Charade, The Big Clock, Casablanca, Dark Passage, Dead Calm, Double Indemnity, The
Fallen Idol, Foreign Correspondent, 
Frankenstein, Frantic, 
Gaslight, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Holmes, Jude the Obscure, Le Boucher, Les Diaboliques, Midnight Lace, Ministry of Fear, Murder My Sweet, Niagara, Night and the City, Night Must Fall, Out of the Past, Rear
Window, Rebecca, Rififi, Saboteur, Shadow of Doubt, Side Effects, Song of the Thin man, Star Wars, Sudden Fear!, That Darn Cat, The Third Man, The Thin Man, The 39 Steps, Titanic, 23 Paces to Baker Street, The Vanishing, Vertigo, Wait Until Dark, and Whirlpool.
Soon the movies become more than just her religion but her way of communicating with other people and her new language.  This new communication and new language appears at first to be a fantasy world that Anna
lives in but then something happens and it all begins with her new neighbors – the Russell Family (Alistair and Jane Russell
and their teenage son Ethan) who paid $3.45 million for their brownstone, located at number 207, and moved in around Halloween. 
More importantly the Russell  brownstone becomes the one family Anna spies on the most – to the point it becomes an
obsession.  Soon the obsession turns into personal knowledge when an incident on Halloween day leads Jane Russell to Anna’s door rescuing her from an anxiety attack. 
     This incident makes Anna even more interested in the mysterious Jane Russell and on November 2 she finds herself looking through her
lens into the Russell household studying Jane Russell.          
I sip my wine, wipe my lip, raise the Nikon again.  Look through the lens.
       She’s looking back at me.
       I drop the camera in my lap.

No mistake:  Even with my naked eyes, I can clearly see her level gaze, her parted lips.
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Anna immediately runs into the shadows of her own stairwell feeling ashamed, exposed, displayed, no longer hidden, embarrassed, and no longer safe.
 I think of Dr. Brulov in Spellbound:  “My dear girl, you cannot keep bumping your hear against reality and saying it is not there.”
       Three minutes later, I step back into the study.  The Russells’ love seat is empty.  I glance at Ethan’s bedroom; he’s in there, crouched over his computer.
       Carefully, I pick up the camera.  It’s undamaged.
      Then the doorbell rings.
      It is the mysterious Jane and Anna invites her in and for the next two and a half hours the two women commune together over wine, brandy, cigarettes, playing chess, and talking about their lives.  Anna even gives her a tour of the four-story brownstone that she’s been
unable to leave for the past eleven months. 
     Then on Wednesday November 3 Anna hears a blood- curdling scream far more
terrifying than the screams from her movies that she had planned to watch that night Rope, Strangers on a Train, North By Northwest, or The Lady Vanishes.
I spin toward the kitchen windows.      
The room is silent.  My heart drums.
       Where did it come from?
       Waves of honeyed evening light outside, wind shifting in the trees.  Was it from the street or –
      And then again, dredged from the deep, shredding the air, full-blooded and frenzied: the scream.  Coming from number 207. The parlor windows gape, the curtains restless in the breeze.
Then on Thursday November 4 Anna hast two full bottles of merlot and our
canisters of pills for her dinner while watching Dark Passage over and over again and taking naps (or falling in and out of consciousness) throughout.   She also takes time to look through the lens at number 207.
A dark patch of crimson has stained the top of her blouse; even as I watch, it spreads to her stomach.  Her hands scramble at her chest.  Something slender and silver has lodged there, like a hilt.
It is a hilt.  
Now the blood surges up to her throat, washes it with red.  Her mouth has gone slack; her brow is creased, as
though she’s confused.  She grips the hilt with one hand, limply.  With the other she reaches out, her fingers aimed toward the window.
She’s pointed straight at me.
Anna is convinced that she witnessed the murder of Jane Russell.  She calls the authorities, talks to Ed and Olivia, talks to her psychiatrist, her physical therapist but nobody
seems to take her seriously.  Some think she’s had some kind of hallucination, others think she’s in a fantasy world, others think she’s seeking attention, and with all of these voices unified in telling her she imagined things Anna
begins to wonder just how sane or insane she is.  Soon she is on the search not only for the truth but also for the one true Anna – and both quests are terrifying keeping the reader grasping for breath until the last page is read.  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Guest Blog Post by The Woman With The God-Shaped Void . . .

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Guest Blog Post by the Woman with the God-Shaped Void

       Everyone is born with a God-shaped void and what we do to try to fill that void is where our journey begins.  For me, I was baptized when I was nine years old, but did not continue to walk in the light my entire journey (1 John 1:5-7).  I am so thankful for our God who seals us and out of His grace, love and mercy, calls us His own the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  Even when I wasn’t giving God my best, He was always there, waiting for my repentance. (Right:  artwork and copyright permission by Christal Ann Rice Cooper for this CRC Blog Post Only)
  In middle school, I had some friends who convinced me that self-harm was the way to take pain from your heart and put it elsewhere.  I fell for this lie that satan wanted me, and several other classmates, to believe.  My intention was not ever to kill myself, but I tried it because that is what I thought would help any pain in my childish heart.  Thankfully, I quickly grew out of it, but this is where I began to notice the voids my heart longed to fill. (Left:  Art work and copyright permission by Christal Ann Rice Cooper for this CRC Blog Post Only)
       Throughout high school and college, the feelings of these voids intensified.  As most others, I tried to fill it with boys, friends, hobbies, jobs, and new adventures.  I searched and searched and searched.  The beautiful thing is that, although I was unaware, God went with me in all of my searching.  The days where I could hardly breath because I cried so hard in disappointment, the days where I partied way too hard and felt miserable, and the days where I obsessed over the thrills of attention from others:  He was there. (Right:  Artwork and copyright by Christal Ann Rice Cooper for this CRC Blog Post Only) 
After jumping around to four different schools, I basically decided to stop searching for fulfillment in schooling and careers.  My boyfriend of three year proposed and off we went on new adventures in marriage.  After high school, we had a lot of relationship issues as we settled into the college life.  We shrugged it off as ‘normal’ and went on thinking that marriage would just fix it all. 
We thought that surely, it would fill our voids.  It did not.  So, we decided to get pregnant and thought that would again, fix us.  Four months into having a newborn we hit rock bottom.  I’m talking storming-around-the-house-yelling-and-hating-each-other kind of rock bottom.  I pictured ‘For Sale’ signs going up in our front yard as we talked about getting a divorce.  I wanted out and I wanted the grass that appeared greener on the other side.  My parents told me differently, which became our saving grace.  When I packed up myself and our newborn to go stay with my parents, they told me I needed to go home and fix it.  So, for some reason, I went back home.
We started counseling and then God really started softening our hearts.  This was a point in our lives where God put us on our faces.  It was at the lowest point that God got us to realize that we needed to turn over and look at HIM and HIM ALONE to fill our voids.  He was the only thing that could fix us.
       My mom gave me some advice: put on the local Christian radio station and never turn it off.  So, I took her advice, yet again.  As I faced dark day after miserable day, I started to notice a song that was always playing when I got into my car.  The title was “Strong Enough” by Matthew West.

To say I was completely annoyed at how many times this song was on, is an understatement.  There is a day, however, when the song fulfilled its purpose and I will never forget it.  I got into my car and, of course, it was on the radio.  I went to smack my radio and violently changed the station when it was as if there was a glass wall that stopped me.  God grabbed my attention.  The lyrics of the song “I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be.  I give up.  I’m not strong enough” finally hit me.

       Days after this encounter both my husband and I went to a small group at our church.  And because God is just so cool and works miracles, the lesson that day happened to be on depending on God for your strength!  Just like He had grabbed my attention a few days earlier, that morning He specifically called me back to Him.  I remember Him blocking out all of the other voices in our room and He spoke directly to me.  He said, “I love you.  I have not forsaken you.  I have been right here the whole time.  You don’t have to keep running.  I am your strength.”  I burst into tears and the rest of the morning was spent weeping with Christ as we were both flipped upward and saw God right before us.  Together, we realized that God was the answer to everything and in Him we could be whole.
Although it has taken several years to heal from the hard times we went through, we know God isn’t done yet.  He purposefully gives us rainy and dry seasons (James 1:2-3) to draw us closer to Him, learn to be more like Him, and give Him glory through it all.  
        In my heart and soul, I no longer feel the longing for something more because God is the only One who can and has truly satisfied all of my hopes, dreams and desires.  I know that life will not always be easy, but He has filled me with a peace that surpasses all understanding
(Philippians 4:7) and a strength where nothing is impossible with Him (Philippians 4:13).  I am so thankful for the people who prayed us through our journey and all glory be to God for loving us more than we will ever be able to grasp.

God is magnificent; He can never be praised enough.
There are no boundaries to his greatness.
Psalm 145:3

So do not fear, for I am with you;
     Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
   I will uphold you with My righteous right hand
Isaiah 41:10

I will be with you
When you pass through the waters
And when you pass through the rivers,
They will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
When you walk through the fire,
And the flame will not burn you.
Isaiah 43:2