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 deathsindistinguishable from SIDS except for the fevered testimony of one distraught mother with connections in high placesdraws 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.
A good choice for book clubs looking to read a mystery. Many book clubs are rightly cautious of selecting mysteries because, although they might offer an entertaining read, they often provide slim pickings when it comes to conversation. Origin is one of the relatively rare breed of who-dunnits that successfully combines mystery with the opportunity for good discussion. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
It would be nice to report that Abu-Jaber approaches the ape angle with a sense of humor, but she is apparently quite in earnest. The thriller elements of Origin are strong enough to make you want to keep reading, but you won't be able to help rolling your eyes. B-
Starred Review. This enthralling puzzle will appeal to both crime fans and readers of literary fiction.
[A]bu-Jaber transcends formula, weaving the whodunit in prose as evocative as poetry. In winter-gray Syracuse, Lena's senses are heightened. Haunted, moving crime fiction.
Booklist - Donna Seaman
Starred Review. Readers seeking gorgeously rendered fiction as well as intelligent and atmospheric mysteries will find Origin extraordinary.
School Library Journal
Teens fascinated by CSI will find this haunting mystery gripping, all the way to its surprising conclusion.
Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog
With prose as cool as a razor yet as wildly impressionistic as a fever dream, Diana Abu-Jaber takes us deeply into Lena Dawson and her search for a killer that must first begin in the lost forest of her own psyche. Origin is a gripping exploration of the elusive nature of identity and one's own remembered past, the innocent and guilty alike. This is a superbly written and utterly compelling novel!
Anita Shreve, author of Body Surfing and A Wedding in December
A dark, noirish literary mystery with an entirely unique detective-heroine. The characters stayed with me long after I had finished the book. I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything like it, which alone is reason to celebrate.
Chuck Palahniuk, author of Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey and Fight Club
With the narrator, Lena Dawson, we get someone entirely new, a hybrid of forensic science and animal instinct. Here’s a brilliant protagonist who can trust her intuition when she reaches the limits of her professional training.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Kim Not your typical mystery novel There are two mysteries in “Origin,” one concerning the murder of infants, the other the “origin” of the main character. While the mysteries in the novel are compelling, the pace is slower than what you’d find in traditional mysteries. I also... Read More
Rated of 5
by Deborah M The reviewers are right! The protagonist in this book is so well drawn that the plot is almost secondary. I cared so much for her and about her. Well written with an unusual plot twist. As a California transplant who was raised in "snow country," her descriptions of... Read More
Origins, Lena believes she
spent her early years in the
jungle being raised by apes,
which begs the question, are
there any real cases of children
being raised by animals? You
will find the answer at
feralchildren.com which has
collated a number of claims and
attempts to separate fact from
Lana is able to sense things
that others can't, such as the
emotional residue left in a room
after a crime has been
committed. Is this far fetched?
Perhaps not - as scientists
learn more about the human brain
they are finding things that
used to be the stuff of fantasy
are within the...
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A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...