The Man From Primrose Lane by James Renner

IBSN: 9781472100146
Published by: Corsair
Publication Date: 17th January 2013

This little gem was handed to me, in proof copy form, with the lines ‘well everybody else is going bat-shit crazy for this, so you might as well read it too.’ Hmm. Bat-shit crazy, I thought, I think I will.

Now, I love a good crime thriller as much as the next Lee Child and Harlen Coben enthusiast, but this was something different. Renner’s debut novel follows David Neff, a best-selling author who is still struggling with the aftermath of his wife’s suicide. Thrown back into writing by his pushy editor, he investigates the murder of the man from Primrose Lane.

I found myself enthralled in Renner’s suspenseful plot line, his oscillations between past and present creating questions I had to read on to answer. This was until I reached the first interlude. Confused. Apparition about a frog-type monster. I won’t go into details, wouldn’t want to ruin the incredible tie-ins. And then suddenly we’re back into the swing of things, the book and I, continuing on the search for the identity of the Man from Primrose Lane.

And then something happens. I had to read it back over four times to make sense of it. I’m still not sure I’ve made sense of it. I was tossed out of my comfortable crime-thriller world into a narrative I wasn’t sure I liked. The book became difficult, messy even, but definitely thinking outside of the box.

By the end of the book, I wasn’t sure if what I was reading was fictional or auto-biographical. Lavender from Matilda ran through my head with her distinctive, croaky ‘wow’. If you like your reading easy and satisfying, then don’t buy this book. But if you’re up for a rewarding challenge…read away.

4/5

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