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by James Renner
Corsair, January 2013
464 pages
7.99 GBP
ISBN: 147210014X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

David Neff made a financial success out of a book exposing a serial child killer. The strain of his investigations, together with the suicide of his wife, induces Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and he is heavily medicated. His agent seeks to prod him out of his vegetative lifestyle by suggesting a new book, based on a strange case of a local man who lived under an assumed name and shunned company for years before being shot and killed. David starts to investigate, but things become challenging when connections are made between the dead man and David's wife, suggesting that David may have been involved with the two deaths.

This book contains a profusion of ideas, unfortunately not altogether satisfactorily worked out. The largest of these turns what initially appears to be a straightforward crime tale into science fiction. To give more detail would ruin the suspense, but some readers may find this aspect of the book unconvincing. It is certainly confusing, with past events being reviewed and re-reviewed in the light of new revelations as the book progresses, especially as pieces of back story interrupt contemporary events throughout the book.

Science fiction needs a credible foundation in science fact but in that respect THE MAN FROM PRIMROSE LANE seems a little shaky. Witness the reference to 'two scientists a world apart' independently discovering the AIDS virus and Tesla and Edison emerging 'as the inventors of electricity' as being examples of a 'metaphysical, philosophical theory' that 'when an idea's time has come it will be recognised by several people at once'. Yes, there is such a theory, but the examples used were merely cases of leading researchers pushing back the frontiers of knowledge in fields where the possibility and benefits of progress were plain. Anyway, Tesla and Edison didn't 'invent electricity' by any stretch of the language.

The author seeks to heighten the level of emotion by any means at his disposal, and this becomes painfully obvious at times. David's casual dismissal of his psychiatrist's advice that his decision to go cold turkey with his medication could be fatal seems out of character, but enables the author to refer to the psychiatric stress on David at any suitable opportunity.

Readers may well find themselves developing a headache well before reaching the end of this lengthy tome. The plot twists become so complex as to be very hard to follow, and for a story based on such questionable science, some may find that persevering to the end becomes too much of a chore. THE MAN FROM PRIMROSE LANE packs a lot in, but in this instance an application of the aphorism 'less is more' would have been wise.

Chris Roberts is a retired manager of shopping centres in Hong Kong, and now lives in Bristol, primarily reading.

Reviewed by Chris Roberts, January 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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