Origin is an emotional, atmospheric mystery set in the icy winter of Syracuse, New York. Crime lab technician Lena Dawson has an intuition for danger – and a keen sense of smell – that take her out of the fingerprint lab and to the heart of a series of mysterious baby deaths.
Lena’s talents, which she attributes to her incredibly unusual infant upbringing, brought her public acclaim in a prior case, but also earned the enmity and mistrust of several co-workers. She must battle office resistance as well as baffling circumstances to find the connection among the dead babies and solve what she knows are murders. But to do so, she must also find, and face, the answers about her own past.
This is Diana Abu-Jaber’s fourth book, but her first mystery, and she combines the best of literary fiction and genre writing. The plotting and pace of the mystery are very good, but Abu-Jaber does not stint on developing deeper, underlying ideas about personal identity, isolation, and dependency.
This is an all-around great book for any reader looking for a mystery with meat on the bones.
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Diana Abu-Jaber is the author of two earlier novels, Arabian Jazz and Crescent, and a memoir called The Language of Baklava. She was born in Syracuse, New York, and now lives in Portland, where she teaches at Portland State University.