“A. J. Finn’s voice and story were like nothing I’d ever heard before,” Editor, William Morrow Publishing; “Even in fiction, there are precedents in copyright law where the borrowing of plot elements is so extensive and blatant that plagiarism crosses into copyright infringement”, Rebecca Tushnet, Intellectual Property Expert, Harvard Law School
The Woman in the Window is a 2018 debut thriller and international bestseller by A. J. Finn (Dan Mallory), which sold millions of copies, with the film based on the book to be released in 2020 starring Julianne Moore. Daily Express called the book “masterpiece of storytelling” and Stephen King said that it was “unputdownable”. Saving April is a 2016 lesser-known book by Sarah A. Denzil, released two years before The Woman in the Window and first being available in an e-book format. As I will show below, the similarities between the two books are overwhelming, both in their scope and in their nature, and, clearly, Finn took everything that he possibly could from Denzil’s thriller to write his bestseller. Jane Harper noted that Finn is “a tremendous new talent”. By the end of my comparison, it may become clear that the only talent Finn possibly has (apart from insolence) is taking nearly all of other writers’ ideas, elaborating on them slightly and then passing others’ stories as his own.
Both books undoubtedly drew inspiration from classic film noir, especially from Hitchcock’s Rear Window  and Amiel’s Copycat  as well as from such books as Gone Girl  and The Girl on the Train . However, even though The Woman in the Window feels like a more accomplished and elaborate book that Saving April, it is still the same exact story as Saving April and the similarities between the two are too numerous in their number and too close in their nature for there to be any talk of “inspiration” or “simple source”. In fact, the two stories are so similar that Saving April can be the first/second/third draft of The Woman in the Window. Reading the two thrillers side-by-side, one may become immediately confused which part they read in which book – so similar they are in virtually every way.
The similarities between the two books are as follows (this is far from being an exhaustive list):
*** MAJOR! SPOILERS ALERT FOR THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW  AND SAVING APRIL  ***
Hannah Abbott = Anna Fox
– The main character/unreliable narrator Anna Fox from The Woman in the Window is almost the same character as Hannah Abbott from Saving April. Their names sound similar, and they share similar feelings and thoughts about other characters and situations. Both are middle-aged, lonely, relatively friendless and reclusive women who live on their own in a suburban place not far from a big city and suffer from social isolation. Hannah’s parents passed away seven years ago [2016: 60], whereas Anna’s parents passed away four years ago [2018: 74].
– Hannah and Anna are either unemployed or self-employed who have “clients” online (their daily life revolves around the Internet): In Saving April, Hannah works as a self-employed online editor with her clients being on the Internet (on her Fiverr social network, where she receives stories to edit), and Anna does not work (she is an ex-child psychologist and spends her days helping people (her clients) in an “agoraphobia” online chatroom/forum, where she provides counselling for them).
– Hannah and Anna’s homes are portrayed as more or less disorganised with bottles lying about and TV/films taking the central stage in their lives. Both Anna and Hannah are avid film-watchers in their respective stories. Anna in The Woman in the Window is obsessed with old films and references her favourite black-and-white films, while Hannah in Saving April also loves her TV/VCR pastime, saying at one point: “…my geekiness, my propensity to escaping into fantasy fiction and films, became more and more lame” [Denzil, 2016: 61].
– Hannah and Anna in their respective stories are relative alcoholics who suffer from agoraphobia (fear of open spaces, including the fear of stepping outside of their homes) in some form or another, though Anna from The Woman in the Window suffers from it much more. While wine is the preferred drink of Anna and wine-drinking is everywhere in The Woman in the Window, Hannah from Saving April likes to interchange wine and vodka: “I turn back to the kitchen, pour a finger of chilled vodka into a tumbler, and turn on the kitchen taps to finish the washing up” [Denzil, 2016: 7].
– Hannah and Anna both seem to suffer from PTSD/grief/depression because of some traumatic event that happened in their past and which relates to their family (they are haunted by their traumatic past) [see the ending similarities below for more details] – they both live on their own as a result of it. Hannah and Anna in their respective stories struggle with a variety of mental health issues as a result of this traumatic event. In both stories, Hannah/Anna has a similar way of dealing with their panic attacks outside of their homes: In The Woman in the Window, Anna counts: “One. Two. Three. Four.” [Finn, 2018: 271] and uses an umbrella; in Saving April, Hannah says to herself: “Get through the next ten seconds” [Denzil, 2016: 39, 75].
– Other characters in both books often accuse Hannah/Anna of blurring fantasy and reality because of their condition/alcohol/or abusing/not taking pills. Hannah often refers to her “imagination taking over” (“It’s my imagination taking over again. It likes to do that” [Denzil, 2016: 33]), and Anna is accused of fantasising too: “A lot of stimulation…drinking too much, thinking too much” [Finn, 2018: 140, 193]. Anna is not supposed to take her pills for her mental condition with alcohol and it is through that action her real “problems” begin; and Hannah is supposed to take her pills, but she does not, and it is through that that her mental problems worsen. For Hannah in Saving April, it is the activity of reading murder/horror stories with blood in them that her clients sent her that trigger her panic attacks and worsen her condition; for Anna in The Woman in the Window, that trigger comes with watching film noir with murder mysteries and accidents with blood in them.
– Hannah and Anna both criticise their bodies in their respective narratives and have poor body-images – they compare their physical appearances to those of their neighbours, being jealous. “I’m jealous. …She’s [Laura] far prettier, far slimmer, and seems altogether nicer than I am…When was the last time a man looked at me like that?” [Denzil, 2016: 9], Hannah wonders in Saving April as she looks at her attractive neighbour who is being surrounded by men. “I study myself in the mirror…wrinkles like spokes around my eyes…I can’t remember the last time someone held my hand”, says Anna in The Woman in the Window [Finn, 2018: 22, 58].
– Apart from films/TV, another pastime of Hannah/Anna in their respective stories is looking out of their windows, spying on their neighbours across the street. They are engrossed in the lives of others and this provides drama to their simple lives. They both live in their fantasy world behind closed doors and their homes are their whole world. Hannah/Anna are also spying on more than one house at any particular time, and know what is going on in each of the houses across the street [Denzel, 2016: 4]/Finn, 2018: 3]: “Cavendish Street is more than the place I live, it’s my whole world” [Denzil, 2016: 5], and “My domain and its outposts: basement [garden, first, second, third, fourth floors] [Finn, 2018: 15-16]. Both Anna and Hannah experience similar feelings of curiosity and shame as they view the activities of their neighbours.
– Both Hannah and Anna in their respective stories only have one other close-in-proximity neighbour who they occasionally talk to: Hannah in Saving April has a neighbour with whom she shares her garden – old woman Edith, and Anna in The Woman in the Window has a tenant – young and handsome David.
Edith = Mrs Wasserman
– Both thrillers have the character of the “oldest resident” on the street who reminisces about past times (their old neighbours), wants them to return and criticises the current state of affairs on their street. Mrs Wasserman in The Woman in the Window has been living in that street “four decades and counting” and “resents the arrival of another yuppie clan” in what used to be “a real neighbourhood” [Finn, 2018: 27]. Similarly, in Saving April, there is Edith, Hannah’s neighbour who “lived [on their street] all her life” and mourns the loss of previous community on their street: “When George was alive…Before all those foreigners moved in…I never used to lock my door…I knew everyone on the street by name” [Denzil, 2016: 5].
Mason Family = Russell Family
– At the beginning of both books, new neighbours arrive and settle into houses near Anna/Hannah’s houses, providing her with the best view of that house. In both stories, the family that arrives (Russells and Masons respectively) consists of a husband (Matt/Alistair), a wife (Laura/Jane) and their teenaged child (April/Ethan). In The Woman in the Window, Russells move into the house number 207, whereas in Saving April, Masons move into the house under the number 72! Anna and Hannah in their respective stories see through the window the new family unpacking. “I can make out…a tall boy, ferrying boxes to the front door “[Finn, 2018: 11]; and “Box after box is taken through the doorway” [Denzil, 2016: 8].
– House-warming gifts: the new family Masons in Saving April receive a casserole dish from Edith, and Ethan Russell from The Woman in the Window gives Anna a candle as a new token of friendship from his mother, even though it is his family that is new on the street.
– Hannah/Anna in their respective stories becomes obsessed with this new family across the street – Masons and Russells respectively – and watches them through her window daily. Hannah/Anna becomes jealous of the new family across the street, hinting at their own traumatic past: “She is so young, so beautiful and everything I could have had” [Denzil, 2016: 40], thinks Hannah while watching April, and “One house, one door away, there is a family I had” [Finn, 2018: 93], thinks Anna while watching the Russells.
– Both Hannah and Anna in their respective thrillers are involved extensively in “social media sites” spying, trying to find out more about Masons/Russells For example, the main characters have recourse to Tinder/Facebook to find more about Russells/Masons [Denzil, 2016: 61]. At some point someone in both thrillers pretends online to be someone that they are not: Ethan pretends to be GrannyLizzie online to know more about Anna (which is part of the twist), and Hannah pretends to be a seventeen girl online to get closer to Matt and find out who he really is.
– The first contact between the new neighbouring family and Anna/Hannah in their respective stories happens through the child of the new family (in Saving April, April, the daughter of the Masons, first waves to Hannah through the window, and in The Woman in the Window, Ethan, the boy of the Russells, visit Anna to give her the candle).
Matt Mason = Alistair Russell
– Both Matt and Alistair (husbands in the new family that moved across the street to Hannah/Anna) share similar/identical physical and personality characteristics. Alistair in The Woman in the Window is described as “big and broad” [Finn, 2018: 21], and Matt in Saving April has a “muscular chest…being too wide, too bulgy” [Denzil, 2016: 10]. Also, while Alistair is described as “difficult” and “controlling” in The Woman in the Window [2018: 101], the same could be said of Matt in Saving April, who is perceived to be very controlling and abusive (has a temper when his wife Laura comes home later than usual and she is afraid of his temper).
– Laura/Jane then, at some point, share with Hannah/Anna their concerns about their husbands. Incidentally, both men in the stories end up unemployed. Matt was practically unemployed in Saving April (having no fitness clients), and Anna later discovers that Alistair left his employment.
– Danger is thought to come from the husband – Matt/Alistair in both stories – both Hannah/Anna in Saving April/The Woman in the Window develop hostile feelings towards the husband of the new family and consider them to be abusive. He must have “pretty ferocious temper” [Finn, 2018: 140], thinks Anna. “I am immediately intimated by Matt, by the fury in his voice, and the way he eats up the room with his presence” [Denzil, 2016: 23], Hannah thinks. In both stories, Anna/Hannah also makes inquires into the background of the husband – Matt/Alistair – Hannah searches Matt’s Facebook profile and befriends him to know more about him; and Anna calls Alistair’s previous work assistant and makes inquires about his private life.
Laura Mason = Jane Russell
– Both Laura and Jane (wives in the new family that moved across the street to Hannah/Anna) in Saving April/The Woman in the Window respectively also share similar physical and personality characteristics. They are both portrayed as attractive women. Jane has a “wasp waist” [Finn, 2018: 30], being “a ripe woman” with “full hips and lips…mellow skill and gas-jet blue eyes” [Fin, 2018: 64], while Laura in Saving April is described as “petite” [Denzil, 2016] and instantly attracts men who are there to help her move her furniture. Hannah/Anna in their stories seem to be complete opposites of Laura/Jane. While Laura/Jane are successful women with husbands and daughters, Anna/Hannah are single and feel “unattractive”.
– Both Laura and Jane also come across as very friendly and rather professional, and they both have a strenuous relationship with their husbands – Matt and Alistair respectively.
– Hannah/Anna becomes friends with Laura/Jane through Laura/Jane attempts. In Saving April, Laura tries to become friends with Hannah, and Jane becomes friendly with Anna and wants to make friends with her when she (allegedly) sends to Hannah a candle through her son.
April Mason = Ethan Russell
– Similar to other characters, April and Ethan (the only child of the couple Masons/Russells) share many similar characteristics. Both are teenagers (April is thirteen/Ethan is sixteen), who come across as serious and loners. They are also both described as being beautiful. April is described as “pretty…with a serious face” [Denzil. 2016: 11]. Similarly, Ethan is implied to be a handsome teenager with calm expression: “very nice-looking” [Finn, 2018: 66]. Incidentally, in both thrillers, the main character says to herself when watching April/Ethan that when the teenagers grow up they will be even more attractive. In Saving April, the narrator thinks: “She will grow up to be a stunner, with that black hair and peach skin” [Denzil, 2016: 79]. In The Woman in the Window, the narrator thinks of Ethan: “He’s going to be a handsome man, I realise, in just a few years” [Finn, 2018: 46]. Both of these children ask for help from Hannah/Anna in their respective stories in some way: April by holding up the sign “HELP” and screaming in public, and Ethan – implicitly.
– The waving by the child through the window to Anna/Hannah in Saving April/The Woman in the Window: Both books have numerous instances where Ethan/April, the child of the couple Russells/Masons, waves to the main character through the window/spots the main character spying, and at times the main character waves back. “I flick a glance upstairs, to Ethan’s bedroom…After a moment, he raises one hand. Waves at me” [Finn, 2018: 374]; In Saving April, there is this passage: “I want to move away from the window but my feet stay planted…Slowly, the girl raises one hand and waves at me. I back away from the window…” [Denzil, 2016: 11] or “She stands there in patterned pyjamas and long black hair, and waves at me. After a brief hesitation, I wave back” [Denzil, 2016: 24].
– Both Hannah and Anna in their respective thrillers begin to feel protective towards the child (April/Ethan) of the new couple (Masons/Russells) and want to protect/save her/him (from the “dysfunctional” family). “I’ m concerned for Jane, naturally. And especially for Ethan” [Finn, 2018: 140], says Anna. “I feel protective” [Denzil, 2016: 11], says Hannah when considering April.
Plot Points Similarities
Laura/Jane Visits Hannah/Anna Alone
– There is a chapter in both Saving April and The Woman in the Window where Laura/Jane (Katie) visits Hannah/Anna alone in her home, and when they come to visit, they do so without their husbands knowing and bring with them a bottle of white wine as a gift! – in Saving April, Laura brings to Hannah Sauvignon Blanc [2016: 102], and in The Woman in the Window, when Jane (Katie) visits, she gifts to Anna a bottle of Riesling [2018: 95]. When they come for a visit, both Laura/Jane get “confident” [2016: 103] and “playful” [2018: 98] in Hannah/Anna’s home and lead the discussion. Laura/Jane and Hannah/Anna get drunk in their respective stories, share their family/personal secrets with one another and play some game (drawing/chess/photography). Both of these encounters between women start the new chapters with almost exactly the same ringing of the bell.
Hannah/Anna Follows Matt/Jane to a Pub/Coffee-Shop
– There is a chapter in both Saving April and The Woman in the Window where Hannah/Anna follows the husband/wife in the couple they are obsessed with (Masons/Russells) to a pub/coffee shop. In Saving April, despite her agoraphobia, Hannah covertly follows Matt Mason to a local pub where she spies on him (and where Matt meets a seventeen year old girl-student). Hannah feels uncomfortable there and has a socially-awkward encounter with a bartender when she orders a drink. Similarly, despite her agoraphobia, Anna in The Woman in the Window, follows Jane to her local coffee shop with the purpose to spy on Jane. Anna feels uncomfortable there and has a socially-awkward encounter with a barista who sells her coffee when she orders it.
Hannah/Anna Sees the Sign of Criminality in Masons/Russells’ Home and Reports it to the Police
– Hannah/Anna in their respective stories see or hear the signs asking for help from the house of their neighbours – Masons/Russells respectively. Hannah in Saving April hears the fighting of the couple, sees April holding up the sign that says “HELP” and then April shows Hannah bruises on her arm; while Anna in The Woman in the Window hears a scream and then, in another chapter, thinks that she sees a woman being stabbed in the Russells’ home. While Anna immediately thinks “Is he attacking her?”[Finn, 2018: 126], Hannah thinks: “he’s hurting her” [Denzil, 2016: 80], and both do not know what to do.
– The scream: Both Anna and Hannah in their respective stories become unsettled after they hear an unexpected scream from the new family (home) – Russells/Masons: Hannah becomes unsettled when April screams on the street, signalling a cry for help [2016: 40]; and Anna is taken aback when she hears a scream coming from Russell’s home, signalling a cry of help [2018: 127].
– In both books, then, the main character (Hannah/Anna) reports the family to the police after they believe they see the suspicious/criminal activity in the neighbouring house that they so obsessed with. Their phone conversations to the police are also similar [Finn, 2018: 160, Denzil, 2016: 90].
The Police Do Not Believe Hannah/Anna and Hannah/Anna Are Reprimanded
– When the police arrive to Anna/Hannah’s houses, they do not believe her version of events/ that she saw signs of some criminal/suspicious activity because she is an unreliable witness and may have hallucinated or misunderstood what she saw because of her tendency to fantasise/seek attention, or because she suffers from mental health problems and was possibly drunk at the time. Both police officers in their respective stories have been first at Russells/Masons’ homes (before talking to Anna/Hannah) [2016: 98] and [2018: 176] and those reassured the police that nothing suspicious was happening. Both police officers in their respective stories also specifically inquire whether Anna/Hannah has been drinking [2016: 98] and [2018: 176].
– Later, it is precisely through the questioning of Anna/Hannah by the police that the real truth comes to light and Anna/Hannah acknowledges her grief [2016: 153], especially truth about Hannah/Anna’s past and that she lost her family in a driving accident in both stories [see the ending similarities below].
– Further similarity is that, in both stories, some time after the visit from the police, Russells/Masons/the police, tells Anna/Hannah to stop calling them/watching them through her window.
Hannah/Anna Is Attacked by Matt/Alistair and Thinks There Has Been an Intruder in Her House
– Yet another similarity is that Hannah/Anna has a violent physical confrontation with Matt/Alistair (the father of April/Ethan) at some point when Matt/Alistair arrives alone to visit Hanna/Anna. This confrontation leaves physical marks on Hannah/Anna [Finn, 2018: 385, Denzil, 2018: 148]. Both Matt and Alistair in their respective stories threaten Hannah/Anna and tell her that she is delusional and should mind her own business.
– At some point in the story, Anna in The Woman in the Window ends up in a hospital, while Hannah in Saving April ends up in a police cell. Also, at some point in both thrillers, the main narrator (Hannah/Anna) goes away and leaves her door open.
– Hannah/Anna in Saving April and The Woman in the Window respectively thinks at some point in their stories that an intruder has been in her home without her knowing and she did not notice if first time: In The Woman in the Window, Anna thinks someone has been inside her house at night and photographed her asleep in secrecy. She showed that photo to everyone. Similarly, in Saving April, Hannah thinks someone has been in her house when she was not there and there are signs left of it – there is this sentence: “whoever delivered this [letter] did it by hand, the’re been at my house” [Denzil, 2016: 174]. This unsettles the main character in both thrillers.
– Also, after one incident, both houses (Masons/Russells) in their respective stories draw their shutters, shutting out Hannah/Anna from their lives/their stalking.
Similarities That Relate to April/Ethan and the Masons/Russells
– It transpires towards the end of both Saving April and The Woman in the Window that the child of the Masons/Russells – April/Ethan were, in fact, adopted by the couple. Both April and Ethan in their respective stories initially come from “dysfunctional” families where their biological parents (especially mother) did not care for them/mistreated them/abused them – both children lament that their parents were never around them and they were disappointed with them. April says in Denzil’s story: “My biological parents were liars…They promised me that they wouldn’t hurt me again. But they lied, because I’d come home from school, and Mum would be drunk….Then she’d bring her men over and I’d see her cheating on my dad…[Denzil, 2016: 213]. The same story is with Ethan from Finn’s story: “Katie [his biological mother] was a druggie…I remember her boyfriends kicking the shit out of me…[Finn, 2018: 419]. The result is that both April and Ethan in their stories grew up to be troubled children who have experienced a lot of hardship in their former lives and now find it difficult to build their normal lives in their new families in the new neighbourhood.
– In both Saving April and The Woman in the Window, April/Ethan ends up to be the “criminal mastermind” behind many actions. It becomes known that they are, in fact, manipulative, disturbed and psychopathic.
– Both adopted children (Ethan/April in their stories) wanted revenge on their biological parents for mistreating them during their childhood. At some point, both April and Ethan in their stories kill their biological parents. April “burned” her parents [2016: 214] and Ethan stabbed his biological mother Katie [2018: 418].
Similarities That Relate to Laura/Hannah
– Hannah and Anna in Denzil and Finn stories respectively have been in a driving accident in the past (where they have been at the wheel in bad weather condition) and the result of this accident was that they lost their husbands and their little daughters. As a result, Hannah/Anna suffered from guilt and experienced accident flashbacks. Prior to this accident, both Anna and Hannah in their respective stories also had difficult relationship with their partners and were almost near-separation from them at the time of the misfortune.
– Both Hannah and Anna in their respective story either committed adultery in relation to their husbands or were victims of marital infidelity on the part of their husbands. This secret came to light in both stories just before the car accident or leading up to it. In Saving April, Hannah’s husband Stu was found to have an affair just before the tragic accident that took his and their daughter’s life. In The Woman in the Window, Anna was found by her husband to have an affair with Wesley just before the accident that took her partner and their daughter. Moreover, both Wesley and Stu (the people concerned in the affair) wanted to put that affair behind them in the story and say something to that effect to their other halves [2018: 347, 2016: 158].
– This is not the only “adultery theme” similarity between the two books. One of Edith/April’s parents in the story is either accused of having an affair or they have an extramarital affair. In Saving April, Matt, April’s parent, is seemingly having an affair with his fitness client, an attractive female student (though this is unconfirmed), and David, Anna’s tenant, later has an affair with the biological mother of Ethan – Katie.
Ending Plot Points Similarities
– In both The Woman in the Window and in Saving April, the main character (Anna/Hannah) has the final physical and violent confrontation with April/Ethan (“the teenaged child” that they were meant to protect). In both stories, during this physical confrontation/fight, there are attempts made by Hannah/Anna to run away, and, then, Hannah/Anna tries to calm down or stop April/Ethan from hurting her by talking about either love or forgiveness – “They loved you…You deserve love”, says Anna to Ethan [Finn, 2018: 427], and “I forgive you” [Denzil, 2016: 226], says Hannah to April. This talk of Anna/Hannah in both stories makes April/Ethan (the “evil” child) to pause/hesitate, and this gives an opportunity for Hannah/Anna to escape or retaliate because both Ethan and April in their stories want to kill Anna/Hannah. Both children in their respective stories thought they could outwit adults – but they could not.
– In the end, April tries to kill her father Matt and Ethan kills his mother. The children explain their actions in a similar way – Ethan in The Woman in the Window says that his mother let him be abused [see the explanation above], and April in Saving April says: “he’s steroid taking, cheating, wife-beater” [Denzil, 2016: 237], by way of an explanation for her attempt to kill Matt.
– Near the end of the story, the main characters realise that they were wrong about the main source of evil – it was not the husbands of Laura/Jane, but the child. One of the parents of Ethan/April comes to rescue the main character at some point and try to protect her from their child. Anna in The Woman in the Window realises that Alistair had been trying to protect her from Ethan, not the other way around. Hannah in Saving April also realises that Laura is trying to protect her from April.
– Both Anna and Hannah in their respective stories recognise their condition and mistakes/come to terms with their trauma, which enables them to live peacefully from now on (this is implied). That is the conclusion of both thrillers. In both Saving April and The Woman in the Window, light, sun and vegetation are mentioned/emphasised to signal the main character’s new life and her overcoming of her past – “This is your garden. In the sunshine” and “now the midday sun floats in an aching-blue sky” [Finn, 2018: 443, 446]; the same sunny and hopeful atmosphere is in Saving April: “The windows are down, my car smells like flowers, and the sun warms my skin” [Denzil, 2016: 233].
– Both of the main characters (Anna/Hannah) reach the same conclusions about the importance of their lives and overcoming their depression/grief. Even though Finn wrote it in different words, the wording, its placement in the next, not to mention the ideas, are too similar, as it is evident by these sentences to be compared – Denzil: “I saved myself…I’ve finally woken up from the nightmare that kept me confined to my house” [2016: 238], says Hannah; and Finn – “I was fighting for my life. So I must not want to die….I’ve waited to rejoin the world. Now is the time [2018: 446].
Writing Style and Other Details Similarities
Moreover, the writing style of both novels is similar, and the narration is also from the point of view of Hannah/Anna, who are both unreliable (although in Saving April, April and Laura also have their say). The language of the main characters in both stories can be described as “sometimes sarcastic” as they comment on their surroundings and modern life.
– There are numerous sentences that are similar and that often conclude chapters/paragraphs in both books. For example, in Denzil’s book: “In frustration, I throw the glass at my fireplace, letting out a scream as the glass smashes” [Denzil, 2016: 78] and, in Finn’s book: “My hand creeps to my glass.…Then I throw…the thing against the wall and scream louder than I’ve ever screamed in my life” [Finn, 2018: 335].
– When the police are in Hannah/Anna’s home for the first time, there are also similar sentences: “She [Police Officer] sounded as though she was talking to a child” [Denzil, 2016: 95], and “I shift in my seat. I feel like a naughty child”, when the police questions Anna [Finn, 2018: 187]; and “My vision starts to blur” [Denzil, 2016: 154] and ”All I see is darkness” [Finn, 2018: 329], when the main characters are questioned by the police. When the police try to calm Hannah/Anna after her panic attack, there are also similar sentences: “I long for home where it’s safe” [Denzil, 2016: 154-155] and “You wanted someplace safe” [Finn, 2018: 330].
– Moreover, chapters in both books sometimes start with the hangover of the main character, as she wakes up: “The next morning, I have the hangover feeling from not getting enough sleep” [Denzil, 2016: 66]. “I wake up with…a hard-earned hangover” [Finn, 2018: 111].
What about A. J. Finn himself and the circumstances of The Woman in the Window publication? It so happens that the publisher who finally published The Woman in the Window is the same one who employed Finn for some years as a senior editor within their organisation – William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. As Ian Parker’s article in The New Yorker states, when choosing what manuscript to publish, editors at William Morrow knew that The Woman in the Window was written by “someone who once worked in a senior position” at William Morrow. There’s no smoke without fire and there are also serious allegations that Finn or Dan Mallory (the same person) is a serial liar who used to fabricate his personal history (once claiming falsely that he has two PhDs (he does not), that he has had a brain tumour (he never had) and that one of his family members died (they did not)).
Aside from the author himself, whose personal history is morally shaky and who has already proven to disregard others (lie to them) to promote himself, the conclusion is that I have never in my whole life read two books that are as similar as Finn’s The Woman in the Window and Denzil’s Saving April. I did not think it was possible to produce two books that are so similar to each other, and it seems that this is the same story written in different words and paragraphs.
Sarah A. Denzil never pursued legal action against A. J. Finn, even though, in my opinion, the extent, the degree and the nature of the similarities are shocking. “Ideas are not copyrightable”, but there are the writers’ code of ethics and the basic moral principle of respecting other writers’ creativity, ideas and style. The case above is not merely one where there are broad similarities, such as an unreliable narrator or voyeurism through windows, but nuanced and detailed similarities too – that are too many, including between all/most of the characters, across all/most of the plot points and across many details; also, what one book implies – another often explicitly states, and vice versa, which all leads to one conclusion – A. J. Finn “plagiarised” Sarah A. Denzil’s thriller Saving April (but did not even make a good job of covering his tracks properly, including leaving similar house numbers, main character names and at times virtually the same sentences).
What do you think about the similarities listed above? Have you read either/both of these thrillers? Do you agree with my conclusion?