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am 19. Mai 2000
I have always loved Patricia Cornwell's writing and her books. She is a sharp woman with great writing skills, and her knowledge of forensic science is certainly part of the reason people come back to read her again and again. This book was extremely depressing, more than frightening...because we've been through these same things with Scarpetta and her niece before. How many times can one person deal with such tragedy and loss in their lives. At a certain point, this becomes unbelieveable (except for the Kennedy family), and the reader loses interest. Yes, the author is aging her protagonist and life does change, but must it always be so negative? I get the feeling Cornwell wants to be rid of this character, with this book being not up to her usual standards and with the introduction of other characters in books such as "Southern Cross". If this is true then I should think the author would want this character to go out with a good plot behind her. Karen Sadler, Science Education, University of Pittsburgh, klsst23@pitt.edu
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am 27. Mai 2000
Normally I really enjoy Patricia Cornwell's books, in fact, I'd consider her one of my favorite authors, but Point of Origin falls so far short of any of her other works. My first complaint, too many references to earlier books, one of which I haven't read. This makes the book terribly confusing at some points, and if you haven's read Cruel and Unusual, you're really going to be lost. Second, since most of the characters do appear in other books, she neglects to introduce us to them in Point of Origin properly. For instance, it took me pages to figure out that Sparkes is African American. Vital information to racheting up the suspense and interest in "who-dun-it". Third, enough with Carrie Grethen and Temple Gault. They were interesting the first time (first couple times for Gault), but give it a rest. They're just too invincible. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Carrie appeared again. Disappointed, but not surprised. Finally, the story itself could have been so much better. I agree with an earlier reviewer who reacted to the helicopter shoot out...lame. And with the Fire Marshall, because I can't believe it took that long to figure out how they were starting the fires. You would think an ATF investigator and FBI officers would be able to figure out where the magnesium came from, if they've had any training at all. SO, all in all I was very disappointed. I wouldn't recommend this book to old fans, and I DEFINITELY would advise new Cornwell readers to pass on Point of Origin.
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am 30. Januar 2000
Thank goodness I only borrowed this stinker from a friend. Iagree with other reviewers - Cornwell is not up to form. There hasbeen a steady decline of quality since 'From Potters Field'.
Herdevelopment of Scarpetta has become tiresome. Kay is a whiny, self-important, annoying shrew who has no chance of connecting with human beings on any level. And Lucy, well, the less said the better. She's beyond intolerable.
My main problem with the book, besides the obvious plot holes, was the text that was dedicated to absolutely unrelated events. When Kay and Marino eat at the Old Ebbitt Grill in DC, the author spends at least two pages reviewing conversations being held by various patrons at the restaurant. And I need to read about this because....? Cornwell employed this abysmal style in the unreadable Hornet's Nest.
Another annoyance is the shameless brand name dropping. Do I care that Rose wears an Armani suit? Not really. Also, why does Cornwell need to specify that Kay uses and ergonomically correct chair? These are all useless details that only seem to take up extra text.
If she wants to return to the business of writing taut, suspenseful novels, then it is time for Cornwell to perform an attitude adjustment on her main characters, and FIND A BETTER EDITOR!
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am 26. November 1999
I have always looked upon Patricia Cornwell's novels as a release. They are never intellectually demanding but, generally, are guaranteed to provide an interesting plot, good characterization etc.
While there was nothing wrong with "Point of Origin", there was nothing in it to rave about either. Once again, the protagonist, medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, is faced with a baffling series of murders but, once again (and I am giving absolutely nothing away by saying this) she faces the same nemesis that we have seen in previous novels. In reading the novel, I could not help that Cornwell has become too comfortable with Carrie Grethen to be willing to branch out and create a new villain who resorts to methods other than those made so familiar by Dr. Hannibal Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs."
Where Cornwell succeeds, however, is in her mastery of medical detail. The success of the Scarpetta novels hinged greatly on the fact that the reader was actually able to picture themselves at the crime scene and in the morgue as a criminal investigation was conducted. The descriptions that Cornwell makes are admittedly gory but no more so than what medical examiners are, presumably, faced with every day. One is not left with the impression that the gore is gratuitous and that is why I have kept coming back to the Scarpetta novels.
"Point of Origin" is an improvement over some of Cornwell's other more recent Scarpetta novels. If only she were willing to experiment with new characters and plot lines, rather than stick to what is becoming the same formulaic plot, her readership would only continue to grow.
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am 24. Oktober 1999
I am stunned that anyone can praise this book and describe it as excellent or even good. I appreciate Cornwell's descriptions of the techniques used during autopsy as well as her ability to create an atmosphere of foreboding, but there must be something more than that to inspire adulation. Cornwell seems bent on using her novels as a soapbox for various social-political issues, with Scarpetta, Marino, and occasionally "visiting characters" as the mouthpieces. This is certainly the prerogative of any writer and is often managed by other writers with adroit skill--the weaving of elements into the fabric of the whole to present seamless transitions--but of late Cornwell does this with little finesse, sometimes stitching a diatribe into the story like an incongruous patch. Also irritatingly facile are those one-dimensionally corrupt characters, such as the lawyer in the psychiatric facility with her frumpy clothing, heavy body, wild frizzy hair, and ponderous breasts--characteristics seemingly meant to convey as much as the woman's cold arrogance and misdeeds how despicable she is. I have read and enjoyed the earlier Scarpetta novels, but will no longer waste my time with any new novels unless I hear that Cornwell has rediscovered the inspiration that made the first volumes so absorbing.
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am 15. Oktober 1999
I HAD TO SAY THAT AFTER BEING "TREATED" TO SEVERAL OF THE FOLLOWING REVIEWS THAT SPOIL ONE OF THE MAJOR EVENTS OF THE NOVEL. HOW DISPPOINTING! With that said, I really enjoyed POINT OF ORIGIN. I'd nearly given up on Cornwell, after the past three disappointing Scarpetta novels. My criticisms of those hold true for POINT; (a) frankly, I don't care as much about Lucy as Cornwell obviously does. I just don't see the purpose served by all the text devoted to her. She spouts technobabble and explains it to Scarpetta and Marino. The rest of it, well, I find her a poorly-sketched character even after all these novels. (b) second, the Marino character is growing tiresome. I still care about him much more than I do Lucy, but, the device (and that's what he seems like now) is OLD now (but, to Cornwell's credit, it's been imitated ad nauseum). HOWEVER, yes, I enjoyed this book. The focus is on VICTIMS, not on getting-in-the-heads of serial killers. We see the devastating effects the events of past novels have taken on the stalwart Scarpetta. This adds to her believable traits. Then, there's the triumphant return to what gets THIS reader turning pages, the descriptions, from Scarpetta, of all the deliciously grisly little procedures and details and such. (come ON, I'm not reading this for the love scenes!)Cornwell walks a fine line with this stuff, and she walks it as surely as she did way back in THE BODY FARM. My faith has been renewed a bit, less written-for-contract-and-film-op schlock, and more poetic contrasts of death and life...
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am 22. August 1999
Many readers have panned Cornwell's Point of Origin as not keeping within the genre' and being too involved with character development. To my way of thinking, this is precisely what the author intended. Those of us who have read all of the Scarpetta episodes, and have any sort of memory, do not need fresh starts and predictable thrillings. We have unanswered questions from the past and this book nicely ties up loose ends and gives us an update on the principle characters. Kay and Lucy are the pivotal personalities and it is gratifying to watch them behaving in a realistically unfinished manner. Those who focus in on picky little details and find fault with occasionally inaccurate nits are missing the whole reason for this series. Whether or not Cornwell wants to admit it, we are watching the evolution of the author's personality as she reflects upon the adventures of her characters. True growth occurs only through reflection. Even though the incidents portrayed in the novel are fictional, we need to realize that all writing is irrevocably filtered through the experience and world view of the author. A few hours spent with Kay and Lucy, every year or so, gives us an update on Patricia Cornwell who has been so gracious as to share her opinions about things that matter to her. Unlike authors who grind out thrillers with no particular personal involvement, Cornwell has the courage to invite us into her home. The person of Kay Scarpetta may seem to make snap decisions and jump to conclusions on occasion and for those readers who do not know her, she may seem to be incompletely formed and her reasoning, flawed. Cornwell has been criticized for moving too rapidly in these instances. In my opinion, she is giving her long-time readers the benefit of brevity where it is appropriate. I could go on but you get the point (no pun intended). I give this book two thumbs up, using both hands, and say to Patricia Cornwell: keep up the good work, I enjoyed our time together and I am looking forward to our next meeting.
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am 17. August 1999
What a huge disappointment, I eagerly awaitied the publication of this book & managed to beg a copy off someone which I sat down to devour. What can I say without ruining the plot for those of you who haven't read it (unlike some of the other reviewers listed)? Firstly, how stupid can Benton be? Secondly why does everyone Scarpetta gets involved with meet a very gruesome end? She should come with a public warning - 'do not get involved with me or you will face certain death by scalping or a terrorist bomb'. Thirdly, like other reviewers I did not like the recycling of former baddies, it takes away the suspense, which after all is the whole purpose of reading books of this genre & I have had enough of Carrie Grethen and her 'evilness'.
Lucy is just SO unbelieveably irritating, I find it a struggle to read about her. And enough is enough, Scarpetta's worship of her neice borders on the obsessive & is totally unhealthy. It's a shame that she has escaped the fate of all the other characters who've been associated with Aunt Kay. In previous books we were subjected to endless unecessary detail about computers. Lucy the genious, has managed to transform herself into an expert on helicopters & points of origin -argh. Please why must she continually be the main feature of the storyline, why can't we see her on the periphery for a change? Lucy is a dull, tedious, one dimensional humnourless nerd. Scarpetta isn't much better, the pair of them are real social misfits. The best characterisation by far must be Marino although it's clear that Cornwell sees him as an object of fun & ridicule.
Scarpetta at times behaves like some religious nut, condeming smoking, disapproving of Marino's lifestyle & caffeine intake & forever ranting on about evil. She is SO moralistic it's galling to read. In fact she gets more judgemental, pious & sanctimonious by the book.
I think I'll give Black Notice a miss unless Lucy has done a vanishing act & there are some new more rounded, three dimensional charcaters.
Like some of the other reviewers, I also wonder whether the seeds of some same sex experiences are being sown for Scarpetta.
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am 20. April 1999
I'd heard of Patricia Cornwell and her medical examiner protagonist before, but hadn't read one of the series until this one. Perhaps the previous books were better, but frankly, I don't think this book would have been accepted by a publisher if it wasn't "Halloween XVXIII" so to speak. Nothing really made sense. Why was one colt spared the fire? How did the fires start anyway (we learn that they're ignited with magnesium, which is conveniently incorporated into cuts on the victims, but not what continues to feed them). What ever becomes of Kenneth Sparkes? What about the morning phone calls (Scarpetta "just knows" all of a sudden that they're from the parents of a boy who died for lack of medical care, and that clairvoyant knowledge is meant to satisfy us as much as it evidently satisfies Scarpetta). And so on. And so on. To say that the plot is weak is too generous - it scarcely has a plot at all. Nor is it a novel of character. Benton shows up briefly, smelling good, and then vanishes again. We're told he's too samrt to get careless, but although he knows that he's being stalked by a psycho killer who has a male accomplice, when a male calls and says he has info about the psycho killer, Benton goes off to meet him in a dark and lonely place. "Hey, Benton! When you hear something eerie in the basement in a horror movie, don't go down there"! But this is all third hand - the man only has two brief scenes and about three lines of dialogue. Then there's Lucy, who just walks around in a sort of perpetual huff. And Marino, who sweats mostly. And finally there's Scarpetta, who has Dark Emotion. We are told so, more or less, just as we're told that she's a genius. But she never thinks any particularly ingenious thoughts, and her insight into her own or any other emotion is about as deep as Dr. Laura Schlesinger's - mostly, she disapproves of stuff, just in general. And although some readers seem to find "the technical details" compelling, all of them are extremely superficial, and amount to little more than canned quotes pasted onto the page. As "Legends of the Fall" demonstrated, there is an audience that is content just to be given stage directions. "Kay is suffering. Kay feels pain. Kay has a brilliant insight". But if you expect to be convinced or instructed rather than just told, and if you like a plot that makes a bit more sense than a disorganised morbid daydream, skip this book.
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am 19. Oktober 1998
In the past I have enjoyed how Cornwell mixed the technical with the mystery of why a death occurred. This kept my interest from page one, but this time it took me until around page 200 to care about this book and then I didn't care that much. Usually with a KS book I want to do nothing else but read. With this edition I had to force myself to continue. From Cornwell's overdone descriptive to set a scene , "the antique French oak breakfast table."(pg2), "stainless steel Breitling Aerospace watch"(pg2), to the incorrect descriptions "flapping" blades of the helicopter (pg21),& "My beer bottle was limp"(pg63), to her cliched vision of Lucy as Carrie's "supple, hungry lover" (pg58). I didn't get all the anger Kay was feeling toward .Lucy's lifestyle, Benton's love, McGovern's connections with Lucy? What is Cornwell telling us, that Kay is coming out of the closet and is in love with Lucy? I figured Cornwell was going through some major personal stuff during the writing of this book and vented on the page. I think her editor should have helped her out and revised the relentless whining and anger about every character KS has in her life. She use to be more faceted. Hopefully Scarpetta's Winter Table, will be back on track. Cornwell books have always been a must buy for me, but at this moment I have one more book in me, before I start waiting for reviews or maybe paperback or maybe James Lee Burke.
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