dan mallory

The Talented Mr. Mallory

Author Dan Mallory. Photo: Alejandro Garcia/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Dan Mallory, who writes under the pseudonym A.J. Finn, became a best-selling author last year with his debut thriller, The Woman in the Window. The rights to the story were quickly snatched up by Fox 2000, and the movie, starring Amy Adams and Gary Oldman, is slated for release later this year.

But Mallory’s stories about his own life turn out to be much more varied and creative than his blockbuster mash-up of Gone Girl and Rear Window. This morning, The New Yorker published a head-spinning account of Mallory’s lies and deception. For years before his novel was published, Mallory spent his time taking advantage of the publishing industry and the colleagues who trusted him.

Ian Parker’s play-by-play account of a man obsessed with Patricia Highsmith novels has a plot that resonates strongly with Highsmith’s own The Talented Mr. Ripley. We’ve rounded up some of the craziest revelations in the article — and honestly, we can’t wait to see the movie adaptation of this story.

He claimed that his mother and brother died.
Mallory claimed in an essay submitted with his application to Oxford’s prestigious New College that his mother died of cancer and that his brother had also died in his care. Although his mother did have Stage V cancer during Mallory’s adolescence, Mrs. Mallory is alive and well. Mallory’s brother Jake is, too.

He claimed that he had surgery for a brain tumor.
His father confirmed that Mallory never had cancer, despite the fact that he missed work for supposed high-risk surgery. He seems to have impersonated his brother, Jake, in perpetuating this particular ruse. “Jake” sent emails to colleagues updating them on Dan’s “surgeries” and “recovery,” using language that sounded a bit too similar to Dan’s own. Later, Mallory told an acquaintance that Jake had committed suicide. As mentioned above, Jake is alive. Poor Jake — he’s already experienced two horrible deaths.

He pretended to be British even though he was raised in the U.S.
Though this deception was harder for Mallory to pull off. Parker writes, “He spoke with an English accent and said ‘brilliant,’ ‘bloody,’ and ‘Where’s the loo?’ — as one colleague put it, he was ‘a grown man walking around with a fake accent that everyone knows is fake.’”

He claimed to have written a dissertation about Patricia Highsmith, the author of the Tom Ripley novels, while at Oxford.
In fact, Mallory never completed his dissertation, despite having once signed emails “Dr. Daniel Mallory.” He’s never published scholarly work on Highsmith, either.

He lied on a job application.
Mallory was hired by a publishing house in London after having claimed to have worked as an editor — not an assistant — at the publisher Ballantine. He also claimed he was a “double-doctor,” holding Ph.D.’s from both Oxford and American University. (If you’re following along, the man does not have even a single Ph.D.).

The Woman In the Window Novelist Is Not Who He Claims to Be