When you live in the Serial Killer Capital of the World (unofficially) it’s easy to think your neighbor might have young girls chained up in the basement. However, according to James Renner, this is not the case even in northeast Ohio. Beginning as a journalist and then as a writer of true crime, Renner spent many years investigating the most brutal abductions and killings in the Cleveland/Akron/Canton area. Some of these cases have since exploded on to the national scene and what may have been regional news is now international. But James Renner also writes fiction–really good fiction. I read The Serial Killer’s Apprentice years ago and when I saw that The Man From Primrose Lane was available, I grabbed that too. The novel is like nothing I’ve ever read before and the shift in the story is so jarring (in a sensational way) that I can’t believe he pulled it off. The book is currently being adapted to film with actor Bradley Cooper “attached” which must be some kind of Hollywood lingo for “involved.” Renner is already revising his next novel which he claims is even weirder than The Man From Primrose Lane, and if that’s true, I cannot wait.
I sat down with James at a crowded Starbucks on a Friday morning and was immediately struck by his calm, kind demeanor. I guess I expected him to burst through the glass doors, slamming his six-shooter down on the table like John Wayne in an old western. After all, the guy investigates serial killings. But that was not the case and I found Renner to be articulate, unassuming, and really thoughtful with a twinkle of mischief in his eye. As a parent, I gathered hope from his thoughts on the rarity of abductions and killings, contrary to what the mass media might have you believe.
Before you sneak a peek into your neighbor’s basement window, listen to what an expert has to say about serial killers. You’d probably be better off investing in a can of Lysol or a bar of hand soap. Ladies and gentlemen, journalist, palindrome, writer: James Renner.… Read the rest