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Dan Mallory: Woman in the Window author accused of faking brain tumour

A profile in The New Yorker claims Dan Mallory also lied about his mother dying of cancer and that he faked a British accent

Clarisse Loughrey
Tuesday 05 February 2019 12:09
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Author Dan Mallory, who wrote the best-selling thriller The Woman in the Window under the pseudonym AJ Finn, is facing claims that he’s manufactured much of his private life.

The New Yorker published a profile that laid out a series of claims that bear a remarkable similarity to the novel Mallory studied at Oxford, Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley.

The piece alleges that Mallory faked having a brain tumour so that he could miss work for the supposed surgery, while impersonating his brother, Jake, in emails to colleagues updating them on his ”recovery”.

It also claims that Mallory submitted an essay alongside his application to Oxford’s New College that stated his mother died of cancer and that his brother also died in his care. Although his mother did have Stage V cancer when Mallory was a teenager, she is still alive, as is his brother. He also at one point claimed that Jake had died by suicide.

Furthermore, the piece claims Mallory faked a British accent, despite being raised in the US; signed his emails “Dr Daniel Mallory” despite having never completed his dissertation; and lied on his application to a publishing house in London, claiming he was a “double-doctor” who worked as an editor at the published Ballantine, despite only being employed as an assistant.

The Woman in the Window has been adapted into a film by Fox 2000, starring Amy Adams and Gary Oldman. It’s set for release later this year.

Mallory said in a statement: “For the past two years, I’ve spoken publicly about mental illness: the defining experience of my life—particularly during the brutal years bookending my late twenties and mid-thirties—and the central theme of my novel. Throughout those dark times, and like many afflicted with severe bipolar II disorder, I experienced crushing depressions, delusional thoughts, morbid obsessions, and memory problems.”

“It’s been horrific, not least because, in my distress, I did or said or believed things I would never ordinarily say, or do, or believe—things of which, in many instances, I have absolutely no recollection. It is the case 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.”

He added: “My mother battled aggressive breast cancer starting when I was a teenager; it was the formative experience of my adolescent life, synonymous with pain and panic. I felt intensely ashamed of my psychological struggles—they were my scariest, most sensitive secret.”

“And for fifteen years, even as I worked with psychotherapists, I was utterly terrified of what people would think of me if they knew—that they’d conclude I was defective in a way that I should be able to correct, or, worse still, that they wouldn’t believe me. Dissembling seemed the easier path.”

“With the benefit of hindsight, I’m sorry to have taken, or be seen to have taken, advantage of anyone else’s goodwill, however desperate the circumstances; that was never the goal.”

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