The Bonkers Story Of The Dude Who Wrote 'Woman In The Window'
From little lies like claiming to have received his doctorate at Oxford to disturbing delusions about family suicide, death, and terminal illness, author Dan Mallory sure seems to have made a career out of bolstering about his own brilliance and playing the ever-suffering victim, all in the name of getting ahead. This is the guy who penned the New York Best Seller-turned-Netflix movie The Woman in the Window (under the pseudonym A.J. Finn) because people thought his story about a confused The Girl on the Train-type woman and a serial killer character that would make actual psychiatrists roll their eyes was somehow good and worthy.
If you listen closely, you’ll hear a thousand excellent writers spontaneously combust.
At first, many who crossed his path thought that the talkative Mallory was absolutely charming (ding ding ding!) and sympathized with his incredible suffering in losing his entire family to either cancer or suicide. Little did his colleagues and professional acquaintances know that his family was very much alive. For years, Mallory got promotions and people’s time of day by pretending to have been poached by other companies, having just the worst of childhoods, and oh, also having a tumor every other day of the week.
Yeah, the guy told his colleagues at Little, Brown in London that he had cancer (again, because he started using this kind of lie back in his college days) and that, according to his doctors, wouldn’t live to see 40. And boy, did he milk it. At one point, after moving from the UK to the US, he stopped going to the office and allegedly pretended to be his brother Jake just so he could keep his inner circle updated on his supposed brave struggle in fighting yet another tumor.
These emails from “brother Jake” went on for months — with “Jake” telling those who didn’t take his illness seriously just how extremely disappointing it was and how “Dan deserves better” given the terrible childhood he had. When an acquaintance asked him how it was going with his brother Jake long after Dan’s pretend recovery, he told them Jake committed suicide. (Spoiler: Jake is not dead, and Dan claims not to have authored those emails.)
By the time his book went up for auction, many people in publishing were wondering who the hell this A.J. Finn was and why he didn’t want his name revealed. At the auction, they learned it was Mallory, and for many who had come to realize this man’s M.O., it made all the sense. Mallory claimed that “nobody dropped out” from the bidding, but it was just another lie. His own employer ended up winning the bid, apparently, at that point, just trying to save face. Sorry, scratch that, because they seemed to take a cue from their pathological lying employee and fabricated a story that he was profiled by USA Today, which didn’t happen either.
After the loss of trust in his circle of professionals, Mallory realized that the cancer thing was all played out and so he promptly ended his dubious lying and retreated from the limelight hahaha of course he didn’t. He simply chose a new affliction to account for his shitty behavior. He now blamed his lies and deceit on having bipolar II disorder, which apparently resulted in him undergoing electric shock therapy, and somehow explained all his behavioral anomalies even though the more egregious of those do not fall under bipolar II to begin with (there are clearly other factors involved here).
Nevertheless, he basked in the joy of people telling him how brave he was for coming out with his mental health issues instead of, you know, apologizing for all the hurtful things he’d said and done to others on an emotional level that he now claimed to care so deeply about. It should also be pointed out here that he once claimed to receive a Ph.D. from some American university for his research on Munchausen syndrome. Ding. Ding. DING.
There are so many footnotes to this story that we couldn’t possibly add them all here, but here’s a shortlist of other outrageous allegations against Mallory:
- Telling people back in London that James Wong asked him to polish the script of Final Destination (Wong denied this);
- Claiming to have suffered from agoraphobia just like his main character in The Woman in the Window, only to later deny it;
- Lying about using a former employer’s American Express card;
- Claiming to be both a runway model for Guess jeans and to once have appeared on the cover of Russian Vogue.
Dan Mallory’s story appears to be a classic case of lying your way to the top, but there’s a huge difference between “sprucing up” your resume and coming across as the guy who killed Gianni Versace. Many of the people who worked with Mallory talked about how he was obsessed with the book The Talented Mr. Ripley because of course he was, and there are even references to it in both The Woman in the Window and also his real freaking life. Which is obviously why Jake Gyllenhaal will be playing him in an upcoming TV series, because people will make movies about any mediocre crap.
You can follow Zanandi on Twitter.
Top Image: Netflix