His debut novel features a depressed heroine, a grisly murder and whip-crack plot twists.
But the story of how Oxford-educated author Daniel Mallory, 38, came to write The Woman In The Window is almost as riveting.
For Mallory, penned the thriller, which has already been hailed as the successor to best-sellers Gone Girl and Girl On The Train, in secret under a nom de plume, all while holding down his day job as a publishing executive. The novel also draws on Mallory’s own personal battle with bipolar disorder for its plot.
In a matter of months, Mallory, who lives in an apartment in New York’s trendy Chelsea neighbourhood, has gone from a respected figure in the publishing world to this year’s predicted breakout talent – complete with a seven-figure publishing deal, Hollywood film rights, and a superstar agent in Felicty Blunt, sister of actress Emily.
The book went on sale in the US three weeks ago about became the first debut novel in 12 years to enter the New York Times Best Seller List at number one. It is expected to have similar success when it is released in the UK on Thursday.
Double life: Daniel Mallory wrote The Woman In The Window in a year ‘of long weekends and nights’, using a nom de plume as he was fearful of what his publishing colleagues would think
The author, who was born in New York to Wall Street banker John and mother Pamela, studied at Duke University, North Carolina, before taking up postgraduate studies at Oxford University – his ‘happiest years’ – where he developed a passion for English history and literature.
However at the same time Mallory was also battling with mental health issues.
They first presented during his final year at Duke, worsened during his time at Oxford, and by the time he took up his role as publisher at British crime publisher Sphere, in London, he was forced to take time off due to the illness.
Speaking to Event magazine, Mallory said: ‘I struggled from the age of 21. I tried everything – drugs, therapy. There were days I couldn’t get out of bed. Nothing worked. I’d been misdiagnosed. When I finally got the ‘right’ doctor he diagnosed bipolar disorder and put me on the correct medication.
Bright: The author, who was born in New York to Wall Street banker John and mother Pamela, studied at Duke University, before taking up postgraduate studies at Oxford University
Superstar agent: Mallory is represented by Felicity Blunt at Curtis Brown. Pictured, Felicity with husband Stanley Tucci
‘Within six weeks I was restored and transformed. It was the summer of 2015 and that’s when I started thinking about writing a book. Once I was diagnosed I felt a hell of a lot better and I wanted to give this a shot….
‘People don’t necessarily want to read about depression, but they do like thrillers, and I hope I give a sense of what depression is like through my book.
Hotly anticipated: Mallory’s novel
‘There’s a stigma surrounding depression, particularly for men. Hopefully this will help get the dialogue going.’
The novel tells the story of Dr Anna Fox, a child psychologist living in Manhattan. She spends most of her days downing vast goblets of wine and handfuls of prescription pills while spying on her neighbours through the lens of her Nikon camera – a nod to Hitchcock’s Rear Window, a favourite of Mallory’s.
The rest of the time she bemoans the ‘loss’ of her husband and eight-year-old daughter and watches countless black-and-white movies: Gaslight, Rebecca, Strangers On A Train. Then she witnesses a murder – or does she?
By the time he started writing, Mallory was as senior editor at New York publishing house William Morrow.
He wrote the suspense-laden thriller in a year of ‘long nights and weekends’ under the ‘gender neutral’ nom de plume A J Finn, fearful of what his publishing colleagues might make of his debut work if they knew.
The finished 90,000-word manuscript was sent via his agent to publishers and quickly created a buzz.
Best-selling comparisons: Critics have compared The Woman In The Window to The Girl On The Train, which was made into a film starring Emily Blunt (pictured)
Last September, the book was put up for auction, with editors locked in a seven-figure worldwide bidding war. In a neat plot twist worthy of a Hollywood film, the winning bid eventually came from the publishing house that had employed Mallory.
Critics are already raving and it has impressed Mallory’s peers. Stephen King called it ‘un-put-down-able’. Gillian Flynn, the author who started it all with Gone Girl, calls it ‘astounding and thrilling’.
The film rights were bought by Hollywood producer Scott Rudin, who won an Oscar in 2008 for another adaptation of a best-selling novel, Tom McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men. Kate Winslet is reportedly in the running for the lead role.
Inspiration: Mallory, a lifelong fan of Hitchcock and film noir, drew on Rear Window, starring James Stewart (pictured), for the plot of his much-anticipated debut novel
Mallory has now quit his role in publishing and bagged himself his own literary agent, Felicity Blunt, of Curtis Brown. The British agent is married to actor Stanley Tucci.
Despite the A-list connections, Mallory insists he does not want to be in the spotlight himself. ‘I have some celebrity friends, but I’ve never wanted to be famous,’ he said.
While Mallory has said he is ‘flattered’ with the comparisons to Gone Girl and Girl On The Train, now he just hopes the book lives up to the feverish level of expectation.
He added to Event: ‘There’s always a danger when a book gets so much advanced buzz going that it won’t live up to the hype.’
From best-seller to blockbuster: The hits Mallory hopes to emulate
The Woman In The Window has been hailed as the successor to The Girl On The Train, the 2015 debut novel by Paula Hawkins, and Gone Girl, written by Gillian Flynn in 2012.
Both were later made into hit films with A-list stars, a path that Mallory also hopes to follow. Here, FEMAIL charts the journey of the other two titles.
Written by Gillian Flynn in 2012, Gone Girl is a thriller that centres on Nick Dunne, who becomes the primary suspect in the disappearance of his wife, Amy.
The novel quickly made the New York Times Best Sellers List. By the end of 2012, the first draft of a screenplay had been submitted to Fox.
The film adaptation, directed by David Fincher and written by Flynn, was released in October 2014, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in the central roles.
The film was met both with commercial success and widespread critical acclaim.
Girl On The Train
‘The Woman In The Window’ is published by HarperCollins on Jan 25, priced £12.99.