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The Man from Primrose Lane

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,228 Ratings  ·  337 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 abou

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Sarah Crichton Books (first published February 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 26, 2015 karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-biggest-fear

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
mark monday
Aug 07, 2014 mark monday rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

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“Are these things usually this complicated? They only appear to be. The explanation is always elegantly simple. I guarantee that when we find this man, we’ll smack ourselves for not seeing him sooner . . . Truth is always simple but it’s never that boring.”

Let’s get the things I didn’t like out of the way real quick. To begin with? The title. If it weren’t for my friend Trudi’s review, I would have never given this one a second glan

Holy shit snacks! What the hell did I just read? I frigging absolutely loved this book. It is such an awesome mindfuck. It's a locked Chinese box with so many secrets. It's a book that sneaks up on you with its pages and pages of normalcy and sweetness and sadness and intrigue. There's grief and loss, mystery and murder. Then -- when you are least expecting it -- KA-POW! It pounces from the left, and bites you from the right. It punches you in the face and kicks you in the kidneys.

Bruised, batt
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
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
Karly *The Vampire Ninja & Luminescent Monster*

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
Aug 24, 2015 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As time travelly complexy as you're likely to find in what is ostensibly a popular thriller crime novel, tells a tale similar to Predestination - the recent movie adaptation of the Heinlein short story All You Zombies.

Renner grips you with an incredibly fascinating prologue and sustains the page turning readability through 450+ pages thanks to some top quality descriptive prose and an approach to revealing information that would put Quentin Tarantino to shame. For a popular thriller unit shifter
Nov 26, 2011 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  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
Nov 08, 2012 Lea rated it it was amazing
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
May 28, 2013 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
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
May 05, 2013 Jonfaith rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alissa Patrick
Feb 21, 2015 Alissa Patrick rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub
This is probably the hardest review I've had to write, mostly because I don't want to spoil the plot. So instead, I'll say a few bullet points.

1. WTF did I just read?

2. Did this author start writing a book, put it down, then a few months later start writing again but decided to write a completely different story? Because I've read some "twists" and "curveballs" in books before; this by far was the strangest and most twisty-turvy of them all

3. Is it a mystery, horror, fantasy sci fi.... answer? A
Emma Makes
Apr 16, 2012 Emma Makes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reading-for-work
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
Apr 23, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
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.

Oct 27, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it
Four-plus stars! Loved everything about this book: the writing, the characters, the plot. It started out one way and then BAM! it completely goes in another direction but then - no, WAIT! there's more! Loved every single twist and turn (figured out some, but not the others - and I was reading on high-alert the whole time looking for red flags and red herrings alike)! Had to reread the last 30 pages immediately just to make sure I understood everything that got thrown at you rapid-fire-style. If ...more
Vera (GirlySunglasses)
Jan 09, 2016 Vera (GirlySunglasses) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars, read-2015
I need to give this book 5 stars.

This was one of the most fascinating books I've read in 2015, and the one that really helped rekindle my love for books.

It was inventive, fast paced, breathtaking and engaging. It played like a movie in my head, and I think it would make a great - maybe not movie but definitely miniseries. Well, it's actually being made into a movie, and I'm actually excited about this.

It's hard to talk about The Man From Primrose Lane without getting into details, it's such a f
Jan 06, 2013 Raven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2013 Ellie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Feb 09, 2013 Erin rated it liked it
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
Chris Blocker
Nov 18, 2014 Chris Blocker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sa-barer
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 genre
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

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
Mar 31, 2012 Melissa rated it really liked it
I'm liking this so far. I'm close to the end and I can sense it in my bag...beckoning me!

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
Jan 02, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
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
Feb 22, 2013 Anne rated it really liked it
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
Sep 29, 2015 Teleterry rated it really liked it
I picked this up randomly from the local library, and at first only thought it was a murder mystery (a good one). I was pleasantly surprised to see it was so much more!
Certainly worth reading! The only reason I am not giving this a 5-star rating was because I had a hard time following some of the more nuanced storylines. Maybe I will change it though - it was really good.
Leah Lucci
Oct 10, 2013 Leah Lucci rated it really liked it
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.

Jun 12, 2012 Jeff rated it liked it
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
Apr 28, 2012 Vicki rated it liked it
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
Mar 17, 2012 April rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
I really enjoyed this and found it hard to put down. When I got to the WTF moment, I was thoroughly confused for about a chapter. But I will admit that "those" concepts (I am avoiding spoilers here) really baffle me. I think the author did a great job of tying all the plots together and I felt completely vested in the life of David Neff. I will be thinking of this one for a long time.
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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. His second novel, The Great For
More about James Renner...

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“There is no closure for this. Closure is for buildings, not people.” 3 likes
“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.” 3 likes
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