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Pointing From the Grave: A True Story of Murder and DNA Hardcover – April 16, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax; First Edition edition (April 16, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401351956
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401351953
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,988,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Weaving together cutting-edge genetics and forensic criminology, courtroom drama and multiple perspectives, Weinberg's book is an ambitious and riveting tale of crime and the science that has been developed to counter it. In 1984, Helena Greenwood, a chemical pathologist and successful executive in the burgeoning biotech industry, is sexually assaulted in her San Francisco home. Paul Frediani is eventually arrested as the primary suspect-after he is caught exposing himself to a 13-year-old girl. But following the initial arraignment, Greenwood is found viciously murdered in the front yard of her new home in Southern California. Lacking conclusive evidence, the police store Greenwood's bloodied clothing and fingernail clippings in Ziploc bags, the case is shelved and the murder goes unsolved for 15 years. Although this crime is not as sensationalistic as some, Weinberg plucks out the gripping details and fortifies her account with a crisp history of DNA, from Watson and Crick's discovery of the double helix to the pitched legal battles over the validity of DNA evidence. Weinberg (A Fish Caught in Time) is at her best when she is the beat-stomping journalist faithfully letting her well-chosen story tell itself. She is far less assured, however, with hard-hitting metaphors ("One by one, she picks up Bartick's points, then neutralizes them, as if killing mosquitoes with a giant can of Doom"), and least successful when she tries to write herself melodramatically into the story: "I have been sucked into the spinning spirals, and even if I wanted to jump out, I do not think I could." Thankfully, Weinberg rarely gets in the way.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"An expertly told, deeply satisfying account of a rotten crime solved by chemical sleuthing." -- Kirkus Reviews

"Fascinating stuff...(a) thoroughly researched account." -- Washington Post Book World

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I walked into this one knowing the outcome and essential facts. This case had been covered on either Unsolved Mysteries or one of the many forensic shows available through cable tv and I was immediately familiar with it.
The pleasant surprise was the book's essential structure and Ms. Weinberg's writing style. This was a true story that in many ways was written like a great crime novel. Her cast of characters had well developed personalities. Her research was meticulous. She was able to build a level of suspense when her reader already knew where she was going. Weinberg managed to maintain a level of objectivity and even a level of sympathy for the perpetrator while managing to be mindful that this person wasn't innocent.
As for my own reaction to this story, I became almost immediately hooked. There was almost a creepy aspect here as I had stayed at a hotel no more than 2 blocks from the scene of the crime last October. Her descriptions were so intensely visual that I almost felt like I was in Del Mar witnessing the crime scene first hand. I kept thinking that this all seemed so surreal. On a certain level I kept thinking the title could have been Murder In Paradise.
This book was researched very thorougly and many people who were involved closely to the victim, perpetrator, or the investigations conducted were interviewed at length.
Of course, as the title implies, the victim was indirectly responsible for nailing her murderer 15 years after the fact. While there is a certain irony in that, by no means is that the whole story.
I read this book in slightly over 3 hours. Usually I don't speed read when I'm reading for pleasure, but it was so compelling I just couldn't wait to move forward.
Be forwarned that I only review books that I really like or really detest. I absolutely loved this one.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Helena Greenwood was the head of marketing at a biotech company in southern California. She was present at the dawn of DNA testing in her industry, and when she heard about the newly patented method of DNA fingerprinting, she told the directors of her firm, "This DNA fingerprinting is going to be big. I think we should get into it." She was just the person to influence the firm in that direction, but in 1985 she was murdered in the front garden of her home. There was a suspect, but no witnesses, no fibers, no fingerprints, and the homicide department put the murder in the archive for more than a decade. Then a resourceful investigator found physical evidence in the file, and, ironically, used the same DNA testing on it that Greenwood had been promoting. The history of this case, and the results, are told in a fascinating detective story, _Pointing from the Grave: A True Story of Murder and DNA_ (Miramax) by Samantha Weinberg. The book does not simply relate the facts of the case and profile the personalities involved, but it also gives a satisfying and useful history of DNA research and the effect of that research on forensic investigations.
Weinberg intercuts her murder story with visits to labs and descriptions of the history of DNA going back to before Watson and Crick. One of Weinberg's digressions is to the Innocence Project, which has used DNA evidence to free wrongly convicted prisoners. The Project's efforts have shown that courts and juries are more badly flawed than anyone had previously suspected, and have increased the importance of DNA for fair legal investigation. But the useful digressions in _Pointing from the Grave_ all hang on the story of Greenwood's murder, and that story is very well told indeed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Olive Oyl on March 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have been looking for books about forensic science as I want to go into that, and found this wonderful book. It is almost hard to believe that it is true! The author really weaves the true story line in with the history of how DNA testing was discovered and developed. And it is even more amazing that the victim was involved with geneics and DNA herself. This book was as enertaining as any fiction book with forensic science.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brady Buchanan on October 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
David Paul Frediani is the perpetrator and Helena Greenwood is the victim. Around 15 years is the time period of investigation and this case was finalized in the year 2000. All up-to-date stuff. You discover the history of DNA and its application to crime detection which is a fascinating subject and also the fact that hundreds of inmates have been released from prison as it was proven they were innocent. The thrust of this story however, are the deeds of David Frediani, his incredible self-made alibis, those who helped him (a handful of people), and how he was eventually brought to justice because of the work of a handful of law enforcement people. I thought if the volume was cut by about 25 pages it would have rated 5 stars. This is one of the early detections using DNA and if it had occured much earlier then Mr. Frediani would have gotten away free...forever.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Walls on October 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a good story but the main topic was DNA. I skimmed through parts of the book to get to the story I wanted to read about.
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