James Renner

Born: 1978

Ohio connection: Birth


James Renner, novelist, freelance journalist, and former newspaper editor, graduated from Kent State University in 2000 with a degree in English. He has also taught creative writing. Renner’s nonfiction books focus on unsolved crimes and strange stories from Ohio.

While working as a staff writer for the alternative weekly, Cleveland Scene magazine, Renner began investigating the unsolved 1989 abduction and murder of Amy Mihaljevic.  In early 1990, an intensive hunt for Mihaljevic’s kidnapper and killer was unsuccessful.  Renner’s article titled “The Coldest Case” appeared in the July 20-26, 2005, issue of the magazine. Renner eventually left his job in order to research and write a book on the case.  In October 2006, publisher, Gray & Company, released, Amy: My Search for her Killer, Renner’s book about his two-year-long investigation into the 1989 unsolved case.  Renner’s true crime story “The Serial Killer’s Disciple” was published in The Best American Crime Reporting, 2008. It was the first nonfiction true crime article to use a dream sequence as a narrative device. That same year, his book The Serial Killer’s Apprentice: And 12 Other True Stories of Cleveland’s Most Intriguing Unsolved Crimes was published by Gray & Company, and his story “The (Suicide) Murder? Of Joseph Kupchik,” was published in volume 2 of The Best Creative Nonfiction.

Some of the articles written for Cleveland Scene and Cleveland Free Times weekly alternative newspapers won awards from the Cleveland Society of Professional Journalists and the Press Club of Cleveland.

Renner’s first novel, The Man from Primrose Lane was published by Sarah Crichton Books in February 2012.  Another work of nonfiction, It Came from Ohio! True Tales of the Weird, Wild, and Unexplained, was also published in 2012. The Great Forgetting, was published in 2015 also by Sarah Crichton Books. Renner’s nonfiction work True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray (2016) documents his investigation into the case of the missing University of Massachusetts Amherst student.

Renner is also an avid podcaster with series such as Philosophy of Crime, Shaker Heights: A True Crime Garage Podcast Series, and an episode of Pi_Rational Interlude stories entitled Palindrome (released on 2/11/20, itself a palindrome like the name Renner itself).