Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.)
"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
"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)
"Abu-Jaber transcends formula, weaving the whodunit in prose as evocative as poetry....Haunted, moving crime fiction." Kirkus Reviews
"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
"Haunting and compelling....It's a little film noir, a bit independent-woman-detective thriller, and winningly fresh in its approach." Miami Herald
"[A] thoughtful, multi-layered novel." Seattle Times
In this "mystery of cold beauty and dark isolation, written with crystalline precision" (), a series of crib deaths in Syracuse, New York, draws the attention of police and national media. Is a serial infant murderer at large?A "haunting story, icy cold in its upstate New York setting but glowing with the unusual brightness of its heroine" (), stars a solitary fingerprint examiner who finds herself playing a critical role in the case. Diana Abu-Jaber, a "gifted and graceful writer" (), masterfully "transcends formula" () as "the tension of escalates, shaped as much by beautifully nuanced prose as menacing events" (). Reading group guide included.
"Finally, a novel of literary suspense that gets almost everything right--forensically and psychologically."--Sarah Weinman,
About the Author
Diana Abu-Jaber is the award-winning author of Origin, Crescent, Arabian Jazz, and The Language of Baklava. Her writing has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Ms., Salon, Vogue, Gourmet, the New York Times, The Nation, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. She divides her time between Coral Gables, Florida, and Portland, Oregon.