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The Man from Primrose Lane: A Novel Paperback – March 5, 2013
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“A thriller and a detective story, plus science fiction and romance with a little near-future dystopia thrown in…A superbly crazy and imaginative story.” ―Associated Press
“Well written…Ambitious and innovative…If you like your fiction tidy and predictable, look elsewhere.” ―The Washington Post
“Fascinating and unpredictable, with shades of Stephen King and HP Lovecraft as well as Douglas Adams, [The Man from Primrose Lane] never loses touch with the human story of loss, guilt and fate that is at its core.” ―Laura Wilson, The Guardian (UK)
“The Man from Primrose Lane barrels along, fueled by Renner's addictive storytelling….It's quite the interesting ride.” ―The Denver Post
“A well-told story filled with darkness, horror, humor, and surprising tenderness. And that's just the first part. There is a moment in this novel when the story moves in a way so unexpected I actually had to put it down and catch my breath. Go ahead, see what I mean. I'll wait here for you.” ―Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
“Features superbly drawn characters and escalates into a genre-bending narrative (noir, sci-fi, and more) of thrills and twists. A great choice for readers who enjoyed Tana French's In the Woods or any work by Philip K. Dick.” ―Library Journal
“Brilliantly intricate… [with] a fantastic finish [and] compelling, interesting characters… I couldn't put The Man From Primrose Lane down.” ―SF Signal
About the Author
James Renner is the author of two books of nonfiction that detail his adventures in investigative journalism: Amy: My Search for Her Killer and The Serial Killer's Apprentice. His work has been featured in Best American Crime Reporting and Best Creative Nonfiction. He lives in Ohio.
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(If you're thinking of reading this and _True Crime Addict_... I'd advise read this one first.)
But then it goes in a completely different direction. To say more of the first of many twists will be to spoil all the fun, if you can use the word "fun" when talking about a book that deals with darkness in people, fate, obsessions, serial killers...
Minor spoiler though: it reads like a blend of Ken Grimwood's "Replay", Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five", and a certain Heinlein's story (revealing which would be a major spoiler)... and/or certain Koontz's novel (spoiler again).
One reservation though. It really should be four and a half star. You see, the premise of the book is so grandiose and the mystery so deep, you are expecting an equally groundbreaking revelation at the end. And you sort of get it... but not in a way you may expect and it is not an answer to one of these big mysteries, but, instead, to a question that never gets asked.
I will say no more. Really, due to its twists and turns, you have to experience it first hand.
James Renner is an amazing author who transports you from your world and leaves you behind in his. I found his writing intense, emotional, passionate and honest. I couldn't ask for anything more from an author, and I thank him for taking me on this journey.
Update: I figured out the mittens, Duh.
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.)
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, which includes time-traveling adventures that look into the distant past and future. The second thing, which is perhaps even more amazing, is that Renner makes this genre mutation somehow feel completely natural.
Renner has a prolific background as a crime journalist, and that experience shows up throughout The Man from Primrose Lane. But the characters and relationships developed during the early sections of the novel feel just as authentic as the murder and abduction cases that drive the plot.
All stories that attempt the trope of time travel are vulnerable to some degree of plot holes. Renner, however, confronts a lot of those issues right in the text without slowing down the action (he even handles the inevitable "Why didn't you stop 9/11" question).
The Man from Primrose Lane would make for an excellent motion picture, but for now, it stands as an incredibly daring novel and one of the top releases of 2012.
"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."