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The Man from Primrose Lane

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  1,435 Ratings  ·  377 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
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
The was a old man who lived on Primrose Lane, he didn't leave his house. He didn't engage with the neighbors, he wore mittens every, single time that he was seen.
Palm Springs commercial photography

Then he is found dead. He has been shot, but that's not all. His fingers were removed and pureed up in the blender.

Then we meet a author of the one hit wonder book about serial killers. Or rather one serial killer in particular, that the author David Neff proved was innocent. After the state killed him. Then he testified at the trial
Dan Schwent
Jul 15, 2016 Dan Schwent rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, 2016-books
Widowed writer David Neff is at rock bottom when his agent drops the tale of The Man From Primrose Lane into his lap. Will a new book to work on bring him out of the funk he's been in since his wife's death or will his obsession kill him?

Before I get down to business, let's all be honest with one another. Most of the books we read are of average or less quality and are just an entertaining way to pass the time. This book is not one of those. This one grabs you by the genitals and infects your th
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
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
May 09, 2016 Zoeytron rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Zoeytron by: Dan Schwent
Anyone looking for a major mind tweak? Well, back up the truck and hop on out for a brain buster that may very well have you shrieking for mercy. Timelines. Obsessions. Genetic predisposition. An old man with a thousand mittens. One malevolent cat. Eggs. A dark and formless void.

'Then things got weird.' Seriously? This was way on down the road from weird, and firmly ensconced in my wheelhouse. Best read without looking at too many reviews, just to avoid possible spoilerage. You don't run into a

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
Jun 02, 2016 Brenda rated it really liked it
This book. How the hell do I rate and review this book? I really enjoy books that make me feel some type of emotion, and this book has generated an abundance of confusion.

I think this book is the book that was written in this book. I think it was written by David, maybe in collaboration with the man from Primrose Lane. I think the little redheaded girls were saved, or maybe just two, maybe three of them. I think it was Riley Trimble, or maybe Dean Galt. I'm not sure what the cat represented, bu
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
Apr 07, 2016 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Most of my goodreads friends seem alot more lukewarm or meh about this, but this is probably the most fun I've had reading a book in at least the past year.

Perfectly timed as a last fun hurrah in reading as I go back to a couple of months of possible book hell.
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
Feb 24, 2016 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: gr-specfic-brs, 2016
What a page-turning heart pounding fun book! I classify this book under "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride". Nothing more can be said without spoilers.
Sarah Anne
Wow, talk about launching me right on out of my reading slump! What a book!

There were things I wasn't crazy about. I didn't like the back and forth of the timelines at the beginning of the book. David's perspective felt like a gleeful, gritty crime novel, so when it jumped back into the past it was quite jarring. It did end up that it had to be done that way and I can see why he chose to do that. It was still not something that I liked.

The nature of the story means that I actually can't shelve t
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
Jun 16, 2016 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
Feb 24, 2016 John rated it really liked it
Highly enjoyable and twisty thrill ride. Gets maybe a little convoluted towards the end, but I'm willing to forgive that in light of the crazy stunts that Renner is pulling off for our amusement. You really want to just read this book without knowing anything about it.
Feb 21, 2016 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was so much fun! It's pretty much impossible to say anything about this book without it being a spoiler. The less you know about this one the better it is.
Read the first two parts on a plane from Zurich to Abu Dhabi and the last part on a plane from Abu Dhabi to India.

When I was nearly through with the epilogue, I imagined myself shouting, "everybody shut up and listen. No, this is not a Hijack. You see this book in my hand? It's called The Man From Primrose Lane. The name of the author is James Renner. It has an unpredictable story. To tell you anything more would take away the feeling of amazement you get when you are reading this book. The les
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
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.

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
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
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
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2016 Reading Chal...: The Man From Primrose Lane 1 20 Jan 21, 2015 12:13PM  
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James Renner's true crime stories have appeared in The Best American Crime Writing anthology, as well the Cleveland Scene and

His method of using social media to solve cold cases was the subject of a CNN profile, in 2015.

Renner is the author of two novels, The Man from Primrose Lane and The Great Forgetting. His latest work, the nonfiction thriller TRUE CRIME ADDICT was published May 2
More about James Renner...

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“There is no closure for this. Closure is for buildings, not people.” 6 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.” 4 likes
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