Journalist. Palindrome. Writer.

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James Renner is an award-winning journalist, and author of True Crime Addict, the definitive book on the Maura Murray disappearance. He also hosts the podcast, The Philosophy of Crime. In 2019, he founded The Porchlight Project which raises money for new DNA testing and genetic genealogy for Ohio cold cases. In May, 2020, James Zastawnik was arrested for the murder of Barbara Blatnik, thanks to the work of genealogists funded by the Porchlight Project.

That Time I Went on an Adventure with Josh Gates

Tune in to Expedition Unknown on Jan 17 (on the Travel Channel). Josh Gates and I run around Milwaukee to see if we can find the key Byron Preiss buried in Lake Park in 1982. Byron hid a dozen keys across North America and put clues to their location in a wonderful book called, The Secret, which is the subject of a documentary I directed. With any luck the documentary will be out in 2018. I have to say, adventuring with Josh Gates is as fun as it looks like on TV. One of the coolest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

I am so psyched for this!

Find My New Short Story in Dark Screams 7!

I have new short story out in the latest Dark Screams collection of spine-tingling horror. It’s called A MONSTER COMES TO ASHDOWN FOREST, and it follows an aged Christopher Robin who must return to the Hundred-Acre Wood after a young girl is murdered, there.

Here’s some early reviews from Amazon readers:

“James Renner did a fantastic job with the Pooh story. Oh dear, what has become of my eeyore and piglet? It will take awhile to get over those images.”

“I have to hand it to James Renner because his story A MONSTER COMES TO ASHDOWN FOREST (IN WHICH CHRISTOPHER ROBIN SAYS GOODBYE) not only knocked the ball out of the park, it knocked it out of town! To see the Pooh stories turned into dark fiction pleased me to no end! Five FAT stars!”

“My favorite story was A Monster Comes to Ashdown Forest (In Which Christopher Robin Says Goodbye) by James Renner, one of the authors with whose work I was previously unfamiliar. We find out that Ashdown Forest was actually the 100 Acre Wood from those lovable Winnie the Pooh books when Christopher Robin, the patient in an convalescent home, requests to go back one last time. When they arrive, they are greeted by the “real” Eeyore and meet the rest of the somewhat timeworn gang. It’s kind of a nightmare version of Winnie the Pooh – a great read for anyone who has read those books or watched those movies a thousand times to children who just can’t get enough.”

True Crime Addict Getting TV Adaptation!

Some fantastic news! True Crime Addict is being adapted for television by some great people. Johnny Depp’s company is producing. Richard Price is writing. And I’ll be an executive producer. Looks like some small details are changing. Here’s the synopsis.

Published last year, Renner’s True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself In The Mysterious Disappearance Of Maura Murray, which had been compared to David Fincher’s Zodiac, follows investigative journalist Jimmy Hunter. His lifelong obsession with cold cases leads him to research feverishly the whereabouts of a popular college student whose car was found abandoned in rural upstate New York. While Jimmy’s all-consuming quest for the truth begins to devour him body and soul, he must also strive to keep it from tearing apart his young and fragile family.

Check out the full article at Deadline.

The Great Forgetting is a Picador Paperback!


The Great Forgetting is now available in paperback!

A blend of mystery and fantasy, The Great Forgetting shows you a world not too different from out own, where we have chosen to forget the worst parts of history… at our own peril.

“If you like your fiction tidy and predictable, look elsewhere.” The Washington Post

The Great Forgetting is blasphemous, riveting, insane, and glorious.” Andy Howell (Copernicus), Ain’t It Cool News

“A fascinating concept . . . worth the read.” Kirkus Reviews

“Packed with thrills.” Publishers Weekly

“A tale you won’t forget.” New York Post

Pick up a copy at your local neighborhood bookstore, today, or order online.

The Man from Primrose Lane Has a New Home at Fox!


Make room on your DVR for The Man from Primrose Lane! My debut genre-bending detective novel has found a home at Fox. Here’s the skinny:

In Working Title Television’s first development season since Andrew Stearn joined as president, the company, a joint venture with NBCU International Studios, which is overseen by Michael Edelstein, and Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, has set up three broadcast drama series projects; an adaptation of James Renner’s book The Man From Primrose Lane at Fox with feature director-producer Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes).

Click here to read the rest.

New York Times, on True Crime Addict


True Crime Addict appeared in the The New York Times Sunday Book Review last week. Marilyn Stasio called me “shamelessly entertaining”!

“Renner, the author of The Serial Killer’s Apprentice, is just plain fun to read. Noting that Maura lived in Melville Hall, he can’t resist mentioning that this freshman dormitory took its name from the guy who wrote the ultimate book on pointless obsession.

Read the full review and a list of other cool true crime books, here.


Awesome Reviews on Amazon

True Crime Addict

Here’s what Amazon reviewers are saying about True Crime Addict:

“When I finally had James book in my hands I felt childlike joy. The feeling one gets when walking into the theater to watch a new Star Wars movie was very similar. Any true mystery fan will be sure to love it.”

“By far one of the best true crime stories I’ve ever read.”

“He’s definitely fearless in his pursuit of finding out what exactly happened the her on that dark, cold road.”

“James Renner killed it with this book. He’s the next “it” author…mark my words.”

“I was captivated with his narrative way and completely riveted to the pages.”

“James Renner is a compelling writer of True Crime.”

“I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in cold cases, not just Maura Murray.”

Check Out the Early Reviews for TRUE CRIME ADDICT!

True Crime Addict

True Crime Addict comes out May 24 but you can now pre-order it anywhere books are sold!

Here’s what some early reviewers are saying:

“An entrancing, brilliant next step for fans of the podcast Serial, Netflix’s Making a Murderer, and other true crime cases.” Library Journal, starred review.

“Brutally honest, no-holds-barred storytelling … Renner brilliantly covers all the bases here, unravels part of the mystery, sheds light on his personal struggles while, in the process, making us care for the victim.” New York Times bestselling author M. William Phelps

“Renner’s walk on the dark side makes for a highly compelling read.” Kathryn Casey, bestselling author of Deliver Us

“Renner’s personal involvement in the case and his self-destructive, relentless dedication to confronting the darkness at the heart of it[…is] noteworthy.” Publishers Weekly

And from Goodreads:

“If you like true crime, this book is for you. I can’t recommend it highly enough! It reads like a fictional thriller with his ease of reliability and humorous wit thrown in. I kept thinking ‘Geez, I could be friends with this dude.'”

“Absorbing, disturbing and absolutely unputdownable – this was one of the best ‘true crime’ novels I’ve ever read.”

“True crime fans should pick up this quick read. I read it in a few hours and would have finished it in one sitting had I had the time.”

“I found Renner’s narrative of fact-finding and interviewing– twisty and complex as it was– to be deeply engaging. I felt carried along in his journey.”

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