The Man From Primrose Lane – Still Makes Me Squirmy About Adults Wearing Mittens

by Dani Stone

9780374200954_p0_v1_s260x420The Man From Primrose Lane – James Renner

No spoilers! I swear.

Why is this proclamation important? Well, besides letting you know I’m a courteous gal, it serves as a warning for any other review of this novel. There are things that can be spoiled, my friends, important things.

I belong to a chips and queso book club and this month, a few of us convinced the rest of the laaaadies to give this book a shot. Frankly, I was shocked how many still hadn’t read it, even though it came out in 2012.

I discovered it one day when I found myself with a few unscheduled hours, and the books in my TBR pile started fluttering their little pages at me. I chose it based on the recommendation of a good friend and this intriguing description from Amazon.

In West Akron, Ohio, 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 as the Man from Primrose Lane. And on a summer day, someone murdered him.

Fast-forward four years. David Neff, the bestselling author of a true-crime book about an Ohio serial killer, is a broken man after his wife’s inexplicable suicide. When an unexpected visit from an old friend introduces him to the strange mystery of “the man with a thousand mittens,” David decides to investigate. What he finds draws him back into a world he thought he had left behind forever. And the closer David gets to uncovering the true identity of the Man from Primrose Lane, the more he begins to understand the dangerous power of his own obsessions and how they may be connected to the deaths of both the old hermit and his beloved wife.

I love a good mystery but I’m also a big fan of ooey gooey boy-meets-girl, boy-does-something-dumb, sarcastic-friend-of-girl-provides-sidekick-hilarity, boy-proposes-to-girl-on-Ferris Wheel, kind of stories. Sometimes, I like to step out of my comfort zone.  BAM! Boy-meets-emotionally-stunted-girl, man-with-mittens, serial killers and _____ OOPS, almost said too much. I was so far away from my comfort zone I needed my passport to get back to it.

Mum’s the word. Zipping my lip. Shutting my trap. 

I would like to tell you more about this book. I really would. But I can’t because that would be rude. I had the glorious experience of reading it without any preconceived notion beyond, “a peculiar mystery” so I was able to enjoy every, “what the hell,” “Oooh, I bet I know what’s going on,” “I have no idea what’s going on,” “I need to pee but cannot put this book down and it’s not good hygiene to take the Kindle in to the bathroom due to the splash-zone” moment.

If you’re a girly-girl like me, let me forewarn, this is not necessarily a feel-good book, though in a weird way it is. SEE? It’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle drizzled with an enigma. There are some uncomfortable themes. As a parent, there were a few moments of anxiety that made me want to up the dosage on my Zoloft, but they were fleeting.

I’m not great with analogies

What begins as an interesting tale, suddenly and WITHOUT WARNING, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. RENNER, grabs you by the shoulders, sprinkles fire ants on your oatmeal and tells you Santa Claus is coming for dinner but he won’t be wearing pants. “What the hell are you talking about,” you ask? Precisely. Now you’re starting to get it.

Mr. Renner, YOU are a masterful yarn-weaver. *GASP* I said yarn-weaver and the main character wears mittens. *claps for me* If you ever get to Kansas I would very much like to take you to dinner so I can pick your twisty brain.

A place where you can say all the things about this book

Readers! If you have thoughts about The Man From Primrose Lane, and I’m sure you do, I’ve set up a mini book club on my personal blog so we can chat but not be jerk-faces and ruin things for people over here. Meet you there. . .


This post has been edited. The original version appeared on Book End Babes, March 2012




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