Title: The Man from Primrose Lane
Author: James Renner
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Genre: Crime Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Man from Primrose Lane is an old, mysterious recluse who is rarely seen outside his home. The few times he has been, he wears thick mittens, regardless of the weather. No one knows the Man from Primrose Lane’s secrets, but one person hated him enough to want to see him dead. When true crime writer David Neff hears about the murder of the Man from Primrose Lane, he instantly becomes intrigued by this strange story and decides that he’s found the subject for his next book.
The Man from Primrose Lane is a genre-defying novel that will leave readers completely breathless. At the beginning, it appears to be an ordinary mystery. Twisted and puzzling, yes, but it seems relatively straightforward. But as David delves into the strange circumstances of the death of the Man from Primrose Lane, he begins to realize that something else is at work here. It’s so clever and mind-blowing that, once revealed about three-quarters of the way through the book, I had to put the novel down for a day in order to process this incredible revelation.
I’ll admit that it’s the type of game-changer in a novel that will leave readers divided. Some, like me, will absolutely love it and will appreciate the daring direction that Renner chose to take his book. Others will despise it, and for good reason. While I will no way spoil, or even hint at, that twist, it’s worth knowing that something big is coming from the beginning of the novel.
While Renner’s novel moves at a steady pace, it’s a book you’ll want to savor from beginning to end. The writing is smooth and polished, which would make it very easy to rush through. If you take time to savor the gorgeous prose and meticulous plot, however, you will be rewarded. It’s clear that Renner spent a lot of time with the details and subtle hints of The Man from Primrose Lane, and it’s one of those books in which a reader could discover something new upon every re-read.
The characters in The Man from Primrose Lane are also incredibly well done. David is sympathetic and driven. You could definitely call him obsessive without having to reach too far. He’s experienced much tragedy in his life, and though he diligently takes his medication for the sake of his family, it makes him completely numb inside. His emotional renewal comes simultaneously with his pursuit of this new case; in many ways, it gives him a new reason to feel, after he has experienced so much sadness.
I can definitely say The Man from Primrose Lane is the most unique novel I’ve read in recent memory. Renner took a real chance with this book, and it paid off beautifully. If you’re a fan of crime fiction and appreciate novels that present something completely different, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. With this book, Renner has leapt onto my list of authors to watch; I know I’ll be thinking about The Man from Primrose Lane for a long time to come.