The Man from Primrose Lane - an elderly recluse who wore mittens all year round; a man who seemed to have no friends or family, is murdered one summers day. The murder goes unsolved with little or no evidence until a day four years later when Best-selling author David Neff learns of this strange death and decides to investigate the mystery that envelopes this eccentric figure and his untimely demise.
David becomes embroiled in a world he thought he'd left behind forever and as he get's closer to uncovering the identity of the man from primrose lane he starts to understand how his own obsessions may be connected to the death of the hermit and that of his own dear wife.
The Man from Primrose Lane is a very different read to most books I have encountered, while different isn't always good, in this case it is those differences that make the novel quite special. The prose is excellent, descriptive without being too "flowery" and it flows along quite rapidly, taking the reader on the journey without pause or break for rest. This is one of those books you can really lose yourself in, moving the story forward and keeping the reader on tender-hooks as to just who killed the mystery man along with the very identity of the victim. Emotionally charged and highly nuanced with a number of twisting plot-lines, it takes a great deal of attention to do the story any real justice.
For the majority of the novel there are few science fiction elements at play and it's only really the last quarter of the novel after the big reveal that introduces the one major element. As a result I'd suggest that even those who don't usually read science fiction should enjoy this book, especially if they like a well constructed mystery. The crime deductive elements are firmly in the slow but realistic department rather than the big coincidental leaps which plague many crime novels. This use of realism really grounds the admittedly odd story and manages to heighten the mystery while providing a great counter-point to the science fiction element.
I did figure the mystery out before the big reveal near the end but then again I usually do, very few have ever kept me guessing. It did take me quite some time however and it's is a mystery that is worth reading about even if (or when) you do guess what's really going on. The plot has more twists and turns than the average roller-coaster while the rewarding characters react in a believable manner. This is very much an adult novel though and the themes reflect this fact, the gritty realism that pervades the narrative does at times make the subject matter uncomfortable and is all the more powerful for that reason. Obsession is one of the major running themes and it's a powerful message that follows the consequences to it's ultimate conclusion, very clever stuff.
The Man from Primrose Lane is exceptional; demanding, bold and yet with a underlying subtlety that belies it's power, it will hook you in and make you watch - a thrilling mystery that manages to hit all the right notes.
Written on Wednesday 16th January 2013 by Antony.
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