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The Man from Primrose Lane: A Novel by James…

The Man from Primrose Lane: A Novel (2012)

by James Renner

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An unexpected combination of murder mystery and sci-fi thriller with a hint of Lovecraftian horror thrown in for spice. ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |
I deliberately try not to read too many reviews or discussions on a book before I begin reading, because I hate to be spoiled. I picked this one up because the author and the story are from my home state of Ohio.
So I was totally blindsided when this story took a major diversion from one genre to another about 3/4 of the way through. What a terrific idea for novel!
I thoroughly enjoyed it! ( )
  Iambookish | Dec 14, 2016 |
This was a fun read. It's not quite as polished as his next novel, The Great Forgetting, but it's a fun, twisty read.
You can tell the true crime reporter angle is near and dear to his heart, and he uses it well enough to get the story moving along again, from the point at which David Neff, our intrepid hero, seems to be stagnating in the wake of his wife's death, the pressures of infamy as the author of a lurid, hit true crime book, and raising a kid on his own.
Like I said, a little clunkier than his second book, but he manages the complications in the book really well and has some fun with the conceit around which he's wrapped his book.
I won't say any more, to avoid spoiling anything, but I picked the book up because I knew it covered topics and scenarios that were near and dear to my heart and in my own book, so I wanted to have a look at how Renner dealt with them and it made for a really good time. ( )
  mhanlon | Jun 2, 2016 |
Genres are good. They narrow down the field and help us find the things we love. I support genres as an aid, not as a rule: it's good to not grow stagnant, become so enveloped in one area that we ignore the rest. But genres can be limiting. How do you classify some works which cross genres? And what the hell do you do with a book like The Man from Primrose Lane?

So my library has The Man from Primrose Lane in the Horror section. Sure, it has its grisly moments, but horror is one of the last genres I'd think to classify this novel as. It may bear some similarity to the work of Stephen King, but we can do better than the horror label. How would I classify James Renner's debut novel? Well, initially I'd say it's very much a literary mystery: there's the murder, the whodunit, and the interrogations. But as a whole, I don't like mysteries and I liked this, so I'd focus more on the literary side of the label. Then, stuff happens. Big stuff. Stuff that should make any fan of Mitchell or Murakami smile. It's a big mess of stuff that will infuriate many readers who feel the author has hijacked a great mystery; my personal reaction: bring it on! I loved it. Sure, it was heavily convoluted, extremely difficult to follow, but it was so much fun trying to piece it together. It's difficult to say more without giving it all away. A thrilling literary science-fiction mystery horror novel: how's that for a genre?

I think any open-minded reader of speculative fiction should take a shot at this novel. The storyline is riveting and the characters are great. I won't pretend like the novel doesn't perhaps become a little confused in its... oh, the risk of spoilers... that is to say, I thoroughly enjoy David Mitchell, but sometimes his writing lacks a certain coherence and plausible (albeit paranormal) outcome (I refuse to believe the underworld or whatever it was resembles Ghostbusters 2); Renner's novel steps onto that same road, but takes it nowhere near as far as Mitchell has done, in my opinion. In short, some suspension of disbelief is necessary on more than one occasion, but I don't think this should deter the more open-minded reader.

How would I classify The Man from Primrose Lane? Brilliant. I loved every minute of it. ( )
  chrisblocker | Nov 18, 2014 |
Meh. Starts out as a standard murder mystery and morphs into something completely different. Points for uniqueness. Worth a quick read. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
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He was mostly known as the Man from Primrose Lane, though sometimes people called him a hermit, recluse, or weirdo when they gossiped about him at neighborhood block parties. (Prologue)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374200955, Hardcover)

A mind-bending, genre-twisting debut novel

In West Akron, Ohio, there lived a reclusive elderly man who always wore mittens, even in July. He had no friends and no family; all over town, he was known as the Man from Primrose Lane. And on a summer day, someone murdered him.

Fast-forward four years. David Neff, the bestselling author of a true-crime book about an Ohio serial killer, is a broken man after his wife’s inexplicable suicide. When an unexpected visit from an old friend introduces him to the strange mystery of “the man with a thousand mittens,” David decides to investigate. What he finds draws him back into a world he thought he had left behind forever. And the closer David gets to uncovering the true identity of the Man from Primrose Lane, the more he begins to understand the dangerous power of his own obsessions and how they may be connected to the deaths of both the old hermit and his beloved wife.

Deviously plotted and full of dark wit, James Renner’s The Man from Primrose Lane is an audacious debut that boasts as many twists as a roller coaster. But beneath its turns, it’s a spellbinding story about our obsessions: the dangerous sway they have over us and the fates of those we love.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:17 -0400)

Four years after a reclusive eccentric is murdered, self-exiled writer and grieving widower David is drawn into the victim's bizarre story, which becomes precariously entangled in David's obsessions and his wife's suicide.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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