“Point of Origin” by Patricia Cornwell

Cornwell, Patricia. Point of Origin (1998)  
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 356 pages, $25.95 hardcover   
ISBN 0 399 14394 7

I’m getting really sick of Kay Scarpetta. At least in Patricia Cornwell’s earlier novels Scarpetta waited until the plot began to develop before beginning her self-centered, self-righteous lamentations. But in Point of Origin Scarpetta starts whining at the beginning of the book and continues until the end; in the interim, not much else happens.

Scarpetta’s latest misadventure finds her involved in a series of arson fires apparently set to conceal homicides. Meanwhile, psychopath Carrie Grethen, nemesis of both Kay Scarpetta and her niece Lucy, escapes from a prison for the insane; both Kay and Lucy know that Carrie will come after them seeking revenge.

Oh, did I mention that Lucy, having left the FBI, is now a crack helicopter pilot for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms? Lucy’s new talent recalls the beginning of Cause of Death, in which we learn that Kay Scarpetta, in addition to being a lawyer and a physician, is also a certified SCUBA diver. Patricia Cornwell must think that stunning revelations such as these constitute character development.

Point of Origin does contain one shocking development in Kay Scarpetta’s life, but other than that there isn’t much story line at all. Apparently Patricia Cornwell and Dr. Kay Scarpetta both need a break from each other.

© 1998 by Mary Daniels Brown

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