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The Man from Primrose Lane

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  2,025 ratings  ·  451 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 a

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Sarah Crichton Books (first published February 2012)
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Suzan Because in this case, the alteration caused by the time traveler intervening in the past "splits" the timeline into an alternate universe. It's actual…moreBecause in this case, the alteration caused by the time traveler intervening in the past "splits" the timeline into an alternate universe. It's actually a pretty common idea philosophically while contemplating multiverses. If there are infinite universes, then even your choice of a bagel over toast for breakfast splits into two universes, and if you go for the butterfly effect, that small choice can have vast consequences. This book deals with rather larger changes.(less)

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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  2,025 ratings  ·  451 reviews

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Sep 29, 2012 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
Dan Schwent
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
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 tri
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
mark monday
Jul 28, 2014 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 somethi
Apr 29, 2016 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
J.K. Grice
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Holy Schnikes, Batman! THE MAN FROM PRIMROSE LANE was quite a mind blower! I loved Renner's book, The Great Forgetting and was eager to read another one of his brilliantly structured novels. This book has more twists and turns in it than a crooked politician. It was a very sharp and very thought provoking thriller, dark fantasy, and sci-fi story, all rolled into one. I also love how Renner references things from pop culture/history in his writing. My favorites in this book were:

*A man who's stud
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5++ stars. Excellent!
May 10, 2016 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
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
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 *Eff your feelings*
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
Paul E. Morph
I really enjoyed this twisty-turny tale. It starts out as a murder mystery of sorts but becomes something completely different by the time it finds its conclusion. I can totally see how some readers, who were expecting it to stay a ‘standard’ thriller could have been upset by the genre-blending in the second half of the book but, as somebody who loves it when books don’t stick to the rails of a specific genre, it was perfect for me. A great first book of 2020!
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A perfect combination of genres I love (thriller, murder-mystery, science-fiction, and even a dash of horror). Renner spins it all together with compelling prose that made me lose sleep rather than lose a thread. I even read Horton Hears a Who! this afternoon because it was quoted. Worth reading twice. ...more
Apr 07, 2016 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.
Chris Berko
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
James Renner is a GDMF amazing storyteller. His books are so alive and fun and imaginative that it seemed like the sun was shining a little brighter while I was reading this and the colors of the world were that much more vivid when i looked up from these pages. He is an amazing storyteller and not only is he that that but you can also tell how much he cares about his characters. Each one has their own little "things" and there is "stuff" he tells us about every one of them that make them seem r ...more
Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*

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
May 14, 2013 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
Aug 18, 2015 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 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 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. ...more
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
What can I say?
Just read the damn thing? But I like writing reviews (something my wife can’t understand as something enjoyable) so I’ve got to say something.

Ironically, the first thing I could say is avoid reviews if you can. I just blocked one of my very long-term Goodreads friends for spoiling the last third of this story with the first line of his review. If only I hadn’t seen that…
Oh well, regret is such a wasted emotion, and I’ve fixed the problem even though the horses have long left the b
Oct 10, 2012 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
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
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
May 03, 2013 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
Oct 30, 2015 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. ...more
Nov 06, 2015 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. ...more
Scott Rhee
I have no idea how to write a review of James Renner’s novel “The Man from Primrose Lane” without giving away some spoilers, so just be forewarned: if you haven’t read this yet, and you plan to, you may want to skip this review... But I promise I won’t give away the Big Revelations and Major Plot Twists. And, yes, there are more than one.

Renner, best known for his true crime nonfiction, deftly tried his hand at writing fiction and, in 2012, published “TMFPL”. To say that it is a great book is li
Apr 05, 2012 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 26, 2016 rated it liked it
A weird one, definitely! It had me captivated and engrossed for two-thirds of the book and I was wowed by the sheer ingenuity of the Writer. However, my interest waned and I got distracted and as the book progressed towards the end, I had lost interest almost completely. Certainly belongs to the mind-fuck genre, but there're better books of this genre out there. ...more
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Well-constructed, well-written, and mind-blowing. Surprised me in many ways--its twists and the smooth genre transition from mystery thriller to science fiction. Mindfuck at its finest.
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James Renner is an award-winning journalist and author of True Crime Addict, the definitive book on the Maura Murray disappearance. Renner is also a novelist, having written The Man from Primrose Lane and other works of scifi and fantasy. He currently hosts the podcast, The Philosophy of Crime.

In 2019, he founded The Porchlight Project a nonprofit that raises money for new DNA testing and genetic

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