The Man from Primrose Lane
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The Man from Primrose Lane

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3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  875 ratings  ·  275 reviews

A mind-bending, genre-twisting debut novel

In West Akron, 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 only as the Man from Primrose Lane. And on a summer day in 2008, someone murdered him.

Four years later, David Neff is a broken man. The bestselling author of a true-crime book about

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Hardcover, 365 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 2012)
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karen

i had no idea what i was getting into...

i came across this book at work when it first came in, and i was drawn to its cover, with its little subtle swirly bits and creepy dollface, and when i saw jonathan carroll had blurbed it, i put it on the mental to-read list. i didn't read any reviews of it, i didn't know anyone who had read it, and all i expected from it was a crime thriller involving mittens and obsession.

and so i was just reading along, doodley doodley doooo and then wait WHAT???



and aft...more
mark monday
open that door, open it. now step through it.

 photo tumblr_m48jttqlpH1qgbrt2o1_500_zpsa56a4f42.gif

Marion Black sings: Who knows what tomorrow will bring... maybe sunshine, maybe rain... but as for me I'll wait and see... maybe it'll bring my love to me... but several characters in this novel decide to not wait and see. what is tomorrow, what is yesterday? when it comes to love and other obsessions, "yesterday" and "tomorrow" are mere constructs to these characters, to be rearranged as they see fit. why wait for tomorrow when you can do something...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
What an arresting, addictive little genre-tapdance, this novel. It's a matroyshka doll of a story masquerading as lit-fic murder mystery, which manages to combine the plot set-ups and Big Bads of a dozen or more X-Files episodes were they to mate with some random police procedural with more "realistic" intentions (already a stretch, I know, but you seriously have no idea the stretchy). I've maybe already said too much, but even my hint-hint shoulder-nudges won't take away from all the surprises...more
Stephanie
I'm going to review this soon (mostly under a spoiler tag, cause there is no other way)......but, damn, this was one weird book! It probably had one of the most disgusting things I've ever read in it. My stomach is a flipping and a flopping.

I know EVERY place the author mentions in this book because I live in the same general area. I've eaten in the restaurants and had the same meals. I even lived in Loveland Ohio for a year-ish and I'm thankful to say I did not run across anything odd at the ti...more
Adam
Nov 26, 2011 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Adam by: James Renner
Shelves: fiction
The author of this book, James Renner, is a friend of mine.

Reading this book is like watching a freight train barrel toward you and being unable to move, while remembering a time in your past when you watched a freight train barrel toward you, only to wake up to find out there's a freight train barreling toward you.

This is the kind of novel that should appeal to anyone, and the ingredients it contains that aren't to your taste should be more than made up for by the things that are. There are thr...more
Lea
Because there is nothing I can say about this story without ruining it for those who haven't read it yet (and I don't trust you not to peek if I hide the spoilers -- don't deny it, you know you would), the only thing I can do is say this:

I LOVED this book.

I love it so much, I am, right now, thanking the author for writing it.

And I can assure you that I have never in my life felt compelled to do such a thing. But this book is truly that amazing and weird and wonderful. I can only think of one or...more
Jim
Read? Well, mostly. And I gave this book three stars, but if you read on, you will understand why I almost refused to rate it at all. I will be presenting a SPOILER, so if you intend to read this novel, then you may want to reconsider finishing this review. . .

OK. Still with me? I really liked the early portions of this book, which kept plopping down an array of mysteries that orbited the kidnapping/murder of three little girls, the disappearance of a twin, mysterious individuals who seemed det...more
Jonfaith
If you liked Ender's Game this may be a novel for you. I cite Orson Scott Card and his self-delusions for a certain reason. The Man From Primrose Lane inspired such a foaming rage on my part, I could only think of Ender playing video games while REALLY saving the world. My bullshit immunity was breached, there was no vertigo nor fever. What a fucking hack, I screamed, well, muttered, as my wife was watching tv in the next room.

I wanted to like the book. I won't spoil such. Sweet stars above, af...more
Karly *The Vampire Ninja*


Firstly, I'll apologize for the fact that this review will be incredibly vague to ensure it is entirely spoiler free. In fact, I will not mention the plotline at all. I went into this book with no idea what I was getting into and I believe that is the best way to do it. To that end I am not even shelving it appropriately on here to avoid giving anything away.

If you want to know what it is about I'm sure there are spoiler laden reviews out there to read. This won't be one of them.

Renner's The M...more
Emma Makes
The Text Publishing cover of The Man from Primrose Lane runs the line “PROMISE: You will have never read anything like this before.”

“That’s the case for every book you’ve never read,” points out my husband; and he’s right – but don’t let the marketing put you off this part crime novel, part sci-fi work that’s an incredibly enjoyable read… as long as you’re aware that it’s going to get wacko at about page 250.

The Man from Primrose Lane will hook you from the first sentence – it’s well written; de...more
Michael
While I understand there's a need for various sections in the bookstore and library, every once in a while a book comes along that defies you to easily shelve in one particular section or another. In the case, I find myself wishing that there was just a section of the store that was called "Good Books" or "Yes, You Really should Read This One Because It's Really Worth It."

Part mystery, part speculative fiction, The Man From Primrose Lane is one of those books that defies easy categorization.

Fo...more
Erin
Feb 09, 2013 Erin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Erin by: karen
There is simply no way to review this book without completely spoiling it. It begins as a decent murder mystery then turns into....something completely different. And, weirdly, when that happens, you aren't even totally surprised. Suffice to say, even if you guess a small, small part of what will happen you could never imagine it all (in fact, I barely understand some of it now). Renner is inventive and talented, and though this book suffered from the loss of voice of one of its primary characte...more
Melissa
I'm liking this so far. I'm close to the end and I can sense it in my bag...beckoning me!

Update:
I just finished the book. First, this is the first book I have finished this quickly in years. I read all day at work and I just really gave up reading for pleasure, which is idiotic, but I'm glad this was the book that pulled me back in.

I gave it four stars because I loved it. But five stars is going to be saved for books that hold my heart over time. Chronicles of Narnia, books that I reread until t...more
Jennifer
When I heard that James Renner had his first novel coming out, I couldn't wait to read it. I absolutely loved his first two books so I figured that this one would be just as good. I started reading it and was hooked immediately. Part one was great! ...but then I got to the first interlude. That was when I realized there was an element of science fiction to this story. That was a huge disappointment because I am not a fan of sci-fi in any form. I kept reading, though. As it unfolded, the story ma...more
Ellie
No one really knew the Man from Primrose Lane. Tom Sackett always called him the Man with a Thousand Mittens because each time he left the house he appeared to be wearing a different pair. When he is found brutally murdered, the police try to track down his family only to find he was using a fake identity. With the investigation at a standstill, true crime writer and widower David Neff is approached by his publisher to write a book about the man and perhaps uncover the truth. But soon David beco...more
Anne
Oh boy, where do I start with my thoughts about James Renner's The Man From Primrose Lane? I can say that this is a book that had me absolutely enthralled yet completely confused at times!

Published in January this year by Corsair, Constable & Robinson, this story really does stretch the mind and requires so much concentration that at times my head hurt. Despite this, I was utterly and truly hooked. I'm not going to go into the details of the story, to be honest, I'm still trying to work it a...more
Leah Lucci
This book is DEFINITELY not what you think it is when you first start reading it. You're like "ah, a nice straightforward mystery novel about a guy who wears mittens and gets killed."

But shit starts getting super-weird pretty fast. Inexplicable events start happening that make you think either the author isn't good at his job or something is up.

Turns out something is up.

And if you're reading carefully, you can figure out what that something is at least 50 pages before the twist is revealed.

U...more
Vicki
I thought this was going to be a crime/mystery book. Nowhere in the description does it say anything about time-travel, so this book surprised me. The time travel also doesn't reveal itself until halfway through the book, so I was often left in the dark trying to figure out WHAT was going on ... The first half of the book I was literally confused with every passing page, I found myself struggling to read it, there was so much and nothing happening at the same time. It was all over the place. But...more
Raven
Now this a book that warrants serious attention from readers and critics alike. James Renner’s debut ‘The Man From Primrose Lane’ is marked by it’s refusal to conform to the normal boundaries of the crime fiction writing genre, and instead plays with the conventions of a linear story, imaginatively taking the reader in a whole new direction. Over the last few years it has not been unusual for renowned fantasy writers such as China Mieville and Tad Williams to circumvent the constraints of their...more
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here: http://www.mybookishways.com/2012/11/...

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 imagi...more
Travis
Great book, James! I was a tad worried at the beginning: some of the dialogue seemed a bit over-earnest, plus it's a story that should have been a big fucking mess. It touches on too many different subjects/themes: love, obsession, science, the quest for knowledge, human nature, destiny vs. free-will, quantum physics, the list goes on) but it works. In some ways it reminded me of Ernest Cline's novel READY PLAYER ONE, not because the stories are similar, but because both books seem to have an au...more
Bennett Gavrish
Grade: A

L/C Ratio: 50/50
(This means I estimate the author devoted 50% of his effort to creating a literary work of art and 50% of his effort to creating a commercial bestseller.)

Thematic Breakdown:
30% - Murder mystery
25% - The effects of obsession
25% - Time travel
10% - Love
10% - The art of writing


Something amazing happens about halfway through Renner's fiction debut – well, it's two things really. First, the narrative pivots from a literary drama into a full-fledged science fiction thriller, whi...more
Chris Bauer
I suspect it will be challenging to write a review of "The Man from Primrose Lane" by James Renner without giving any of the twists away. I'll do my best.

I have to give kudos to Mr. Renner for attempting a very intricate and delicate procedure in this work. Most authors (with a few notable exceptions) attempt to stay far away from any kind of hybrid "cross-genre" novels. And to muck with it even further by introducing a chronology which doesn't actually read the way the story goes makes it even...more
Libby
Twisty! Cunning and Devious! Wow! Rad! Bad! And did I mention twisty? This one started out as a common garden variety mystery-suspense novel, slowly developing its plot rather like British suspense novels. Despite its leisurely pace, I was enjoying it, when slam-bang, it turned into a techno, hard science fiction rush that totally blind-sided me. I was shaking my head and muttering "I did NOT see that coming." This was written with skill and reveals a truly scary plot in itsy-bitsy increments. I...more
Evelyn
After becoming obsessed with the murder of a young girl, crime writer David Neff learns that the man executed for the crime was innocent and he finds the real killer. He tricks the killer to confess on national TV and his book sales make him a millionaire. But, David cannot stop obsessing over other similar crimes and when a mysterious recluse is murdered in Akron, David investigates that crime, too. As his life unravels, the police come up with evidence that supports David as the killer. Just w...more
Julie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff
The enthusiastic blurb on the back cover from the amazingly under-appreciated Jonathan Carroll is all you really need to know. I want to give Renner's novel three and a half stars, because I was engaged from start to finish and it is very clever (especially the last twenty-five pages or so). The narrative did remind me of Carroll's work in so many ways (the tricky yet pleasurable combination of fantasy, science-fiction, literary realism, and, in this case, a nasty little criminal procedural whic...more
Kelci Turcios
James Renner.....WHY?!?!?!?!

I can only give this half a rating because I could only read half the book. Now I love sci-fi, time travel, different dimensions (I love Fringe, Continuum, etc...) BUT I felt like your book was this:

One murder mystery book and one science fiction book slammed into each other at warp speed and created a hybrid monster. I was loving the first half of this book and then all of a sudden, WHAM I'm reading a totally different story. I just couldn't get intot he second half...more
Graham Vingoe
This is one of those rare cases where I've waited ages to get to read this and every second was worth it. my only minor quiblle is nothing to do with James Renner's work -it relates to the cover blurb on the Corsair edition which points the way to the huge twist in plotline around page 250. I knew the way the book was going to turn anyway from other reviews here but it works a lot better if you know as little as possible about it beyond the initial premise. Then you get the full force of the dis...more
John Lee
Mind-bending and ridiculous, but also sweet and well-written. It is a rather gruesome novel at parts, but I felt I could really connect to the main character, and I appreciated the backstory-building that Renner did. However, the real star of the show is definitely the story structure and plotline, which twists and turns at breakneck speed and really does leave you both wanting to slow down and speed up, wanting to take a break from the action but also wanting to continue reading. A crime novel...more
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Renner spends his spare time hunting serial killers and writing about his adventures. One of his true crime stories was published in the Best American Crime Reporting anthology. It was the first nonfiction true crime article to use a dream sequence as a narrative device.

Renner's debut novel, The Man from Primrose Lane, was published by Sarah Crichton Books, in 2012. It is being made into a movie b...more
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“The universe is absurd. People want to make sense of it because we’re hardwired to find reason in the randomness. We look for patterns in the chaos. See omens in coincidence. We look at the random distribution of stars in the sky and pretend they look like animals, call them constellations. For some reason, we want to give meaning to the meaningless. If you go looking for the number eighty-eight, you’ll see it everywhere—the number of keys on a piano, the number of counties in Ohio—but it doesn’t mean anything.” 2 likes
“And the process, the ritual, quieted the hum of his mind so he could write.” 0 likes
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