Remember Carrie Grethen? 

You know: she was the partner of Kay Scarpetta’s serial killer nemesis Temple Gault, who our favourite Virginia Chief Medical Examiner dispatched a few books back, in “From Potter’s Field.” 

Well, she’s back, folks — escaped from a New York City hospital for the criminally insane. And she’s made no secret of her desire to exact revenge on Kay, her hyper-intelligent niece Lucy, and Benton Wesley, her FBI-profiler boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Scarpetta is investigating a fire at a horse farm, where the remains of a young woman are discovered in the master bathroom. Horrifically this conflagration appears to be the work of a serial arsonist / killer. The question is how Carrie Grethen is connected.

As always, Patricia Cornwell’s evocation of the forensic process stitches your eyes to the page. You’d think I’d be tired of reading about autopsies by now, but I’m not: I love how the trajectory of an investigation can be shifted by one small discovery. 

I really enjoyed the pace of “Point of Origin,” which is spiced by a particularly devastating incident — but the climax is rather more theatrical than I expected, like an action thriller finale had been tacked onto a procedural. This doesn’t detract from my overall enjoyment though. I consider this one of the better Scarpetta’s. 

ISBN: 9780751544787
Format: Paperback
Number Of Pages: 400
Published: 2nd September 2010
Publisher: Little Brown

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