Point of Origin (Kay Scarpetta book 9) – by Patricia Cornwell

I took a quick glance at previous reviews for this book on Goodreads and found an abundance of deep hate for Point of Origin (book nine of the Kay Scarpetta series). I was actually surprised. I didn’t love this book, and I’ll elaborate on that in a minute, but I certainly didn’t hate it!

You know how some long book series can be read out of order? The Kay Scarpetta series is like that – with a few exceptions. This book is one of those exceptions. Much of what happens between the pages of Point of Origin relies heavily on characters and events in the past eight books. If you don’t read the previous books, you won’t be confused. But you certainly won’t feel invested in this story in the slightest, which is where I think at least some of the hateful reviews are coming from. Meanwhile … my personal thoughts on the book are below.

I feel like I learn something new in every Kay Scarpetta book I read. This time I learned a lot about how fires work. I always find the little tidbits fascinating. I love to learn. Patricia Cornwell is very good at filling her books with little bits of academia without talking over my head or making me feel like an idiot. That’s a skill that many business writers could learn, actually! Kay always finds interesting little artefacts in her autopsies that seem to come back to be really important later in the story. She found one in Point of Origin and I knew exactly what it was and why it was there. I kept yelling at her that she should know this, meanwhile hoping I was wrong because wouldn’t it be an amazing twist to be wrong about something I felt so sure about? But no. I was right. I think Cornwell might have played down Kay’s intelligence a bit too much in this regard. I was a bit disappointed. Also, in the beginning chapters of the book one key question was how did the fire burn so hot so fast with no catalyst. I’m not sure that question was ever answered, unless I missed it somewhere.

Another disappointment came at the end. While Cornwell is very good at building the suspense, throwing in the red herrings, detailing the evidence; she doesn’t seem so good at the big action scenes that conclude the story. This is the second book in the series where I’m prepared for a big showdown at the end (equivalent to a “boss battle” in a video game) and I’m left feeling like the action scenes were glossed over. I hope this is improved upon later in the series!

And then there’s the things I can’t get into because they involve key points in the overarching series. Let’s just say there were some emotional scenes that nearly broke my heart. I still believe Pete Marino is my favorite character of the series. And even though she tries to come across as cold and clinical, I still wanted to give Kay a great big hug.

In conclusion, I give Point of Origin 3 out of 5 burning stars. There were a few disappointments that were too big to warrant more stars. But I still have a deep attachment to the characters and want to continue the series in the hopes that future books will be back up to 4 or 5 stars. They all can’t be perfect when there are so many to be read, after all!

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