By: James Renner
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
Publishing Date: February 2012
Reviewed By: Mary Lignor
Review Date: March 8, 2012
This novel covers some weird images and, to this reader, a very involved plot that takes a lot of thought to follow to the end. For those who do, however, they will find some extremely interesting characters and an intriguing ending.
The beginning takes the reader to a house on Primrose Lane where an elderly man, somewhat reclusive, has been murdered. He had no friends to speak of and no family. Whenever he did go out, it was noticed by the citizens that he always wore mittens, winter and summer, and always a different pair. Subsequently, when he was older he hired a certain family to bring him his groceries, magazines, and newspapers and stopped going out altogether. And, on a nice, clear summer day, the police were called and the Man from Primrose Lane was found dead in his house.
The first part of this book introduces us to David Neff, who is a published author of true-crime novels. The narrative tells about David and his wife, Elizabeth, how they met at college, their marriage and also the murder case that he solves and later writes about. David has obsessed about this case and has never written another book.
David is devastated by his wife’s suicide that no one can seem to explain on the day that they brought their new baby son, Tanner, home from the hospital. David and Tanner live a very reclusive life that keeps everyone at arm’s length but. Eventually, David gets a visit from his agent, telling him the story of the Man from Primrose Lane. This has always been a strange mystery as no one ever solved the case and David’s agent thinks that this would be a good way to pull David out of his depression over his wife’s death by giving him a puzzle to solve. At this point in the story, it has been four years since David’s wife’s death and David eventually decides that he will try and find out who the Man from Primrose Lane was and how he died. After starting his investigation he finds that this murder has a connection with his wife’s death and also the kidnapping of her sister many years ago.
The first part of the book is perfect crime fiction although some parts might be too graphic for more sensitive readers. The final part of the novel is pure imaginative Sci-Fi. It seems that this sudden change into another world has everything to do with the story but at the same time, it was a bit confusing. It was difficult to keep the characters straight and the way the plot jumped from present to past was tough to read without a program. The author has written two true-crime books so he knows his subject well and he was also clearly able to deal with the Sci-Fi plots. I surely give him a lot of credit for his writing.
Quill says: An extremely dark story that was very well-written, if a bit confusing in parts.