END OF STORY: Controversial Author A.J. Finn Finally Set to Release His Second Novel


Back in 2018, A.J. Finn, then the debut author of The Woman in the Window, was dominating bestseller lists and, at the time, the undisputed biggest new name in fiction, appeared well on his way to becoming a household name. Then, things came to a crashing halt, and suddenly, Finn, who spent multiple weeks at #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list, was smack-dap in the middle of a full-blown image crisis following this astonishing and tough-to-read piece written by The New Yorker a year later.

In a lot of ways, it’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since Ian Parker (of The New Yorker) published his blistering, jaw-dropping hit piece of an article chronicling the years-long lies, deceit, and unbelievable antics of one Dan Mallory, who writes under the name A.J. Finn. In it, Parker issues a scathing and surgical takedown of Mallory/Finn, taking nearly 12,000 words to paint a full picture of Mallory’s antics—which range from “borrowing story ideas” to lying about having brain cancer to lying about relatives dying to lying about his own background and education (specifically that he had a master’s degree from Oxford; he, apparently, does not) to lying about his past work history.

Again, it’s a head-spinning article, roughly the length of a novella (or a little more than 1/10 of a full-length thriller novel), that paints Mallory as unreliable a narrator as the protagionist of his first book, which went on to sell over a million copies. If you’ve got the time and want to be absolutely floored, I’d say give it a read.

Originally, it was thought that Mallory’s second book would be released sometime in early 2020. Why, exactly, it was delayed is anyone’s guess.

Following the article published by the New Yorker, the Guardian ran their own article titled: “Second AJ Finn novel on way despite Dan Mallory scandal, says publisher.” In that article, Mallory was quoted as saying, “on numerous occasions in the past, I have stated, implied, or allowed others to believe that I was afflicted with a physical malady instead of a psychological one: cancer, specifically.” It’s a far cry from a true admission that he’s, indeed, guilty of the alleged lies and deceit detailed by Parker, but it’s also not a denial.

Here’s a quick excerpt.


Mallory, who wrote the bestselling thriller The Woman in the Window under the pseudonym AJ Finn, admitted in a statement this week in response to an extensive New Yorker investigation that “on numerous occasions in the past, I have stated, implied, or allowed others to believe that I was afflicted with a physical malady instead of a psychological one: cancer, specifically”.

The profile alleged that he had a history of fabricating stories about illness and death and of lying about his professional qualifications. Mallory’s statement said that he was “afflicted with severe bipolar II disorder” and “in my distress, I did or said or believed things I would never ordinarily say, or do, or believe”.

But despite the opprobrium, a spokesperson for HarperCollins UK confirmed on Thursday that there was no change to its publishing plans. A second novel from AJ Finn has been slated for a January 2020 release. Mallory has said that it will be set in San Francisco, “the only Hitchcockian American place that is not New York”. The New Yorker said it would be a story of revenge involving a female thriller writer and an interviewer who learns of a dark past.

Mallory worked in publishing before landing a major two-book deal on both sides of the Atlantic in 2016, with HarperCollins in the UK and US counterpart William Morrow, for whom he worked as executive editor at the time. According to the profile, the manuscript was submitted anonymously, with Mallory only revealing his name after bidding reached $750,000 (£578,000). The piece alleges that when it was revealed, “many” publishers pulled out of the bidding, with a former Morrow employee telling the magazine: “I’d wondered why this person in publishing wants to be anonymous. Then: Oh, that’s why!”

However, for reasons unknown to the general public, End of Story was quietly delayed, and other than the occasional social media post or blurb given to a fellow author, Mallory has remained quiet.

That changes on February 20th, when End of Story is finally set to come out.

My Take

Look, I typically try to avoid drama. I’m a big fan of many books published by Mallory’s publisher, and I know people who work there, and I think the world of them. That said, Parker’s article is damning, and at the end of the day, I thought Book Spy readers should know who they’re supporting if they buy this book. Being real and honest was the only way I could cover this title, which I will review after it comes out. Otherwise, I didn’t feel right pushing a book to people who, quite frankly, would not be wrong if they chose to never check it out because of Mallory’s actions. Then again, he’s not been accused of breaking the law or committing any criminal act. Even if everything Parker wrote about him were true, it means Mallory is a very questionable person at best, and a total fraud at worst. Does that make him a criminal? No, I don’t think so, though one could debate that. Instead, to me, he feels like someone who is (or was) rather unstable, and I hope he received help so he could then focus on his writing.

To that point, I did read his first book, and here’s my unvarnished take . . . it’s freaking awesome. All things considered, I kinda wish I could tell you it sucks. It does not. A.J. Finn is a truly gifted storyteller, and for his sake, I hope Dan Mallory has taken the time between releases to get his life in order, apologize to people, and become a better human being.


Check out the official plot details and cover art below.


For fans of Knives Out comes a spellbinding thriller from the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Woman in the Window

I’ll be dead in three months. Come tell my story.

So writes Sebastian Trapp, reclusive mystery novelist, to his longtime correspondent Nicky Hunter, an expert in detective fiction. With mere months to live, Trapp invites Nicky to his spectacular San Francisco mansion to help draft his life story . . . while living alongside his beautiful second wife, Diana; his wayward nephew, Freddy; and his protective daughter, Madeleine. Soon Nicky finds herself caught in an irresistible case of real-life “detective-fever.”

You and I might even solve an old mystery or two.

Twenty years earlier—on New Year’s Eve 1999—Sebastian’s first wife and teenage son vanished from different locations, never to be seen again. Did the perfect crime writer commit the perfect crime? And why has he emerged from seclusion, two decades later, to allow a stranger to dig into his past?

Life is hard. After all, it kills you.

As Nicky attempts to weave together the strands of Sebastian’s life, she becomes obsessed with discovering the truth . . . while Madeleine begins to question what her beloved father might actually know about that long-ago night. And when a corpse appears in the family’s koi pond, both women are shocked to find that the past isn’t gone—it’s just waiting.


A. J. Finn is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the global phenomenon The Woman in the Window, which was published in more than forty languages and is the basis for the hit film starring Amy Adams. 




Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, is also in bookstores, and his third book, OUT FOR BLOOD, comes out on June 4th. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. To interact with other readers and talk about your favorite books and authors, join The Real Book Spy’s Discord server.


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