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The Man from Primrose Lane: A Novel by James…

The Man from Primrose Lane: A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by James Renner

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1401085,666 (3.8)3
Title:The Man from Primrose Lane: A Novel
Authors:James Renner
Info:Sarah Crichton Books (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Man from Primrose Lane: A Novel by James Renner (2012)



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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 |
“Fresh Meat” by Chris F. Holm for Criminal Element

“Want to hear something strange?”

So asks the sometimes-narrator of James Renner’s The Man From Primrose Lane about two-thirds of the way through the book. To even so much as tell you who, specifically, uttered those words would spoil one of the flat-out weirdest reads you’re ever likely to experience, as is evidenced by the reply:

David looked worried. “How much stranger does it get?”

David, you have no idea. The Man From Primrose Lane is a slippery novel—difficult to pin down, and nigh impossible to synopsize without venturing into major spoiler territory. But since we’re all here, howsabout I try?

Read the rest at: http://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2012/02/fresh-meat-the-man-from-primrose-la...
  CrimeHQ | May 14, 2013 |
You may also read my review here: http://www.mybookishways.com/2012/11/the-man-from-primrose-lane-by-james-renner....

The Man from Primrose Lane. Man With a Thousand Mittens. No matter what you call him, he’s dead. In fact, he’s sitting in his living room in a pool of blood, one gunshot to the chest and missing all of his fingers. Those are in the blender, by the way, only so much mush now. When a young patrolman Tom Sackett responds to a call from the man’s delivery boy, he immediately senses something is wrong. He never could have imagined the horror waiting for him inside of that house, or the confusing mess the case would eventually become. For years, the Man From Primrose Lane has been a mystery to his neighbors. Seldom venturing outside of his house, he did who-knows-what within the walls of his home and kept very much to himself. If his life was a mystery, his death was even more so.

David Neff is in self-imposed exile in his home and taking care of his four year old son Tanner. Tanner has never known his mother, Elizabeth, since she supposedly took her own life the day after he was born. Her death nearly destroyed David. It also seemed to have destroyed his writing career. Luckily, the proceeds from his wildly successful true crime novel has kept his little family afloat, and then some. No, money won’t be a worry anytime soon, but his editor is ready for him to write again, and the death of the Man From Primrose Lane is the story he presents to David. The familiar tingle of a story in waiting hits David when he hears about the death, but the medication he’s been prescribed for PTSD has completely wiped out any creative instincts that he used to have. The PTSD is a nice little reminder of his search for a child killer that resulted in the true crime novel, The Serial Killer’s Protégé,and the medication has, quite frankly, kept him from taking his own life. His fierce love for his son has kept him sane, and he starts to think that maybe this is what he needs, something to get him out of his funk and write again. But the meds will have to go. Shaking the meds is a dubious proposition, one that actually might kill him, but he’s determined to go through with it.

Eventually David seeks the help of the police officer that found the old man’s body in the beginning, Tom Sackett, who’s also being assisted by the FBI. Sackett thinks David is hiding something, and the feeling is mutual, but David needs him. As David begins digging into the Man from Primrose Lane’s life, he soon finds out that his life, and his wife’s, were intertwined with the dead man’s in shocking ways.

The Man From Primrose Lane is the first fiction novel by James Renner, and it’s a doozy. The book, while following the investigation into the old man’s death, also details David’s courting of his unusual and troubled wife, the court case that nearly destroyed him, and his all-encompassing obsession with finding the thieves of children: those that take their lives and destroy everyone around them.

Equal parts Stephen King, Dean Koontz’s Lightning, and dystopian scifi, The Man From Primrose Lane is never what you think it will be, and is one of the most haunting books that I’ve read in a long time. It demands your unwavering attention. Trust me, you’ll want to wrap a cozy blanket around you and tune out all outside distraction while reading this one, because the narrative is not linear and as the threads from the story lines unravel, you may find yourself wondering how all of it could possibly connect, but they do, in spectacular, shocking, and devastating ways. There may be times when you think things are “getting really weird”, and they do, but I promise, the author makes sense of it all in the end and the payoff is well worth the effort.

Moments of horror and dread highlight moments of almost aching tenderness, and as dark as this book gets, underneath it all it is ultimately a story of love, the boundless ability of the human heart to care for others and the desire to see justice done for those that are so, so vulnerable. The Man From Primrose Lane is a genre defying, horrifying, and rewarding read that will surprise you at nearly every turn. James Renner’s imagination is a vast, strange, wonderful, terrifying thing and we’re very lucky he’s willing to share it with us.

If you’re in the mood for a breezy mystery, or a straightforward thriller, this is NOT that book. It’s not a light read, and you really must pay attention. I love a light read as much as the next person, but this doesn’t fall into that category, so proceed accordingly, but most definitely DO proceed when the mood for something a little more “meaty” strikes you.

This is one of the best books of 2012, and if you haven’t discovered this gem yet (and you like a bit of a challenge-I mean that in the very, very best way), you’re going to want to remedy that. ( )
1 vote MyBookishWays | Nov 19, 2012 |
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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.

(summary from another edition)

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