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Origin: A Novel

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Origin: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780393064551
ISBN10: 0393064557
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A fingerprint expert's investigation of a series of crib deaths leads her back to the mystery of her own childhood.

Lena is a fingerprint expert at a crime lab in the small city of Syracuse, New York, where winters are cold and deep. Suddenly, a series of crib deaths — indistinguishable from SIDS except for the fevered testimony of one distraught mother with connections in high places — draws the attention of the police and the national media and raises the possibility of the inconceivable: could there be a serial infant murderer on the loose?

Orphaned as a child, out of place as an adult, gifted with delicate and terrifying powers of intuition, Lena finds herself playing a critical role in the case. But then there is the mystery of her own childhood to solve....Could the improbable deaths of a half-dozen babies be somehow connected to her own improbable survival?

The beauty and originality of Diana Abu-Jaber's writing are here accompanied by deft, page-turning narrative tension and atmosphere, tugging the reader to an unforgettable conclusion.

Review:

"Abu-Jaber, who dealt with Arab-American themes in her earlier novels, Crescent and Arabian Jazz, shows her versatility in this gripping contemporary thriller. A spike in the number of local SIDS deaths piques the interest of Lena Dawson, a fingerprint specialist at a Syracuse, N.Y., forensics lab. Is it a statistical fluke or is there a killer at work? Determined to account for the dead infants, Lena joins the investigation, which stirs tantalizing memories from her dimly recollected early childhood. Despite her fragile mental state, Lena proves capable of surprising resolve. Her relationship with her protective ex-husband, her budding romance with a detective and her quest for her own lost past add psychological depth. Abu-Jaber's lovely nuanced prose conveys the chill of an upstate New York winter as well as it does Lena's drab existence before she was drawn into the mystery of the crib deaths. This enthralling puzzle will appeal to both crime fans and readers of literary fiction. 9-city author tour. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"At the beginning of this wonderful novel, 6-year-old Lena sits with Pia, her foster mother, watching an old Tarzan movie on television. 'I sat, openmouthed,' Lena remembers as an adult, 'watching the man, the woman, the birds, the tiger, the leaves. And finally she was there, the one I'd waited for, had known would come eventually. I jumped up, crying, "Mama! Mama!"' Lena's not pointing to Jane, but... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Abu-Jaber crafts an utterly magnetic story....Readers seeking gorgeously rendered fiction as well as intelligent and atmospheric mysteries will find Origin extraordinary." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"Abu-Jaber has created a literary mystery that weaves an intriguing psychological character study with a tense and compelling plot that results in a rewarding finish. Lena is a flawed but appealing protagonist; let's hope she surfaces in sequels. Recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Abu-Jaber transcends formula, weaving the whodunit in prose as evocative as poetry....Haunted, moving crime fiction." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Abu-Jaber's lyrical, intelligent writing makes Origin outstanding. But it is her aptitude for plotting and character development that further elevates Origin." South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Review:

"Haunting and compelling....It's a little film noir, a bit independent-woman-detective thriller, and winningly fresh in its approach." Miami Herald

Review:

"[A] thoughtful, multi-layered novel." Seattle Times

Synopsis:

Lena is a fingerprint expert at a crime lab in the small city of Syracuse, New York, where winters are cold and deep. Suddenly, a series of crib deaths--indistinguishable from SIDS except for the fevered testimony of one distraught mother with connections in high places--draws the attention of the police and the national media and raises the possibility of the inconceivable: could there be a serial infant murderer on the loose?

Orphaned as a child, out of place as an adult, gifted with delicate and terrifying powers of intuition, Lena finds herself playing a critical role in the case. But then there is the mystery of her own childhood to solve....Could the improbable deaths of a half-dozen babies be somehow connected to her own improbable survival?

The beauty and originality of Diana Abu-Jaber's writing are here accompanied by deft, page-turning narrative tension and atmosphere, tugging the reader to an unforgettable conclusion.

About the Author

Diana Abu-Jaber is the author of Crescent, Arabian Jazz, and The Language of Baklava. She grew up in Syracuse and now divides her time between Portland, Oregon, and Miami, Florida.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Grady Harp, July 26, 2007 (view all comments by Grady Harp)
A Complex, Well-Crafted, Immensely Readable Mystery Thriller!

Diana Abu-Jaber continues to polish her craft as a storyteller par excellence. Writing with artful prose, well-integrated scientific facts, an understanding of criminology details, and a gift for creating fascinating characters, she has, in ORIGIN, created a story that is not only a superb novel, but also one that is bound to please a wide readership. ORIGIN is a winner at every level, a novel that exercises the brain while exploring the heart.

Lena Dawson is a young woman who despite minimal formal education has become a successful interpreter of fingerprints with the criminal investigation unit in Syracuse, NY. As the novel begins she is separated from a fractured marriage with police officer Charlie, a raucous womanizer who continues to 'stalk' Lena despite their obvious incompatibility. Lena now lives a lone Spartan life, one more committed to her job than to a social existence. Her knowledge and sharp intuition in breaking a case of criminal implications in an apparent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) case has sharpened her interest in other unexplained cases, and her extraordinary investigative gifts fall into place with the rather sudden onset of multiple SIDS cases. Her acumen and skills uncover the possibility of the implication of a serial killer who may be using poisoning techniques to murder infants of a strangely random assortment of couples - a discovery that results in paparazzi-type response from the media. Lena's only consolation and warmth in the frozen wintry Syracuse is her alignment with the tender, caring detective Keller, and as they both pursue the clues and investigation of the morbidly fascinating serial killer, each of them uncover and share personal demons that have shaped their lives.

Running skillfully alongside the linear investigation of the crimes is a detailed and touching story of Lena's search for her birth parents (she was 'adopted' by an odd couple as a very young child but has never felt a genetic connection: her dreams of her true beginnings are bizarre yet meaningful). It is the parallel investigation that introduces many fascinating characters and the discovery of a shaded past that has created a woman fearful of connecting in meaningful relationships. And it is to Abu-Jaber's credit that she intertwines both of these highly inventive stories so adroitly that they ultimately blend with a surprising, highly satisfactory ending.

Reading Abu-Jaber is a feast for the mind and the heart. Her imagery is richly colorful, cinematically unfolding the frozen landscape of Syracuse as the perfect setting for the two enigmas that eventually melt as they are resolved. This is a writer of enormous talent who has given us a multi-layered novel as fine as any in recent years. Where will her rich imagination and brilliant prose take us next? Grady Harp
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780393064551
Author:
Abu-Jaber, Diana
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company
Subject:
Infants
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Serial murderers
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - Women Sleuths
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Mystery-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Publication Date:
June 5, 2007
Binding:
Hardcover
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9.6 x 6.5 x 1.3 in 1.51 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z

Origin: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393064551 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Abu-Jaber, who dealt with Arab-American themes in her earlier novels, Crescent and Arabian Jazz, shows her versatility in this gripping contemporary thriller. A spike in the number of local SIDS deaths piques the interest of Lena Dawson, a fingerprint specialist at a Syracuse, N.Y., forensics lab. Is it a statistical fluke or is there a killer at work? Determined to account for the dead infants, Lena joins the investigation, which stirs tantalizing memories from her dimly recollected early childhood. Despite her fragile mental state, Lena proves capable of surprising resolve. Her relationship with her protective ex-husband, her budding romance with a detective and her quest for her own lost past add psychological depth. Abu-Jaber's lovely nuanced prose conveys the chill of an upstate New York winter as well as it does Lena's drab existence before she was drawn into the mystery of the crib deaths. This enthralling puzzle will appeal to both crime fans and readers of literary fiction. 9-city author tour. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Abu-Jaber crafts an utterly magnetic story....Readers seeking gorgeously rendered fiction as well as intelligent and atmospheric mysteries will find Origin extraordinary."
"Review" by , "Abu-Jaber has created a literary mystery that weaves an intriguing psychological character study with a tense and compelling plot that results in a rewarding finish. Lena is a flawed but appealing protagonist; let's hope she surfaces in sequels. Recommended."
"Review" by , "Abu-Jaber transcends formula, weaving the whodunit in prose as evocative as poetry....Haunted, moving crime fiction."
"Review" by , "Abu-Jaber's lyrical, intelligent writing makes Origin outstanding. But it is her aptitude for plotting and character development that further elevates Origin."
"Review" by , "Haunting and compelling....It's a little film noir, a bit independent-woman-detective thriller, and winningly fresh in its approach."
"Review" by , "[A] thoughtful, multi-layered novel."
"Synopsis" by , Lena is a fingerprint expert at a crime lab in the small city of Syracuse, New York, where winters are cold and deep. Suddenly, a series of crib deaths--indistinguishable from SIDS except for the fevered testimony of one distraught mother with connections in high places--draws the attention of the police and the national media and raises the possibility of the inconceivable: could there be a serial infant murderer on the loose?

Orphaned as a child, out of place as an adult, gifted with delicate and terrifying powers of intuition, Lena finds herself playing a critical role in the case. But then there is the mystery of her own childhood to solve....Could the improbable deaths of a half-dozen babies be somehow connected to her own improbable survival?

The beauty and originality of Diana Abu-Jaber's writing are here accompanied by deft, page-turning narrative tension and atmosphere, tugging the reader to an unforgettable conclusion.
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