Living Proof

Kira Peikoff

Published by Forge Books, 2012
ISBN 10: 0765367483 / ISBN 13: 9780765367488
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In 2027, destroying an embryo is considered first-degree murder. Fertility clinics still exist, giving hope and new life to thousands of infertile families, but they have to pass rigorous inspections by the United States Department of Embryo Preservation. Fail an inspection, and you will be prosecuted.

Brilliant young doctor Arianna Drake seems to be thriving in the spotlight: her small clinic surpasses every government requirement, and its popularity has spiked―a sudden, rapid growth that leaves the DEP chief mystified. When he discovers Arianna's radical past as a supporter of an infamous scientist, he sends undercover agent Trent Rowe to investigate her for possible illegal activity.

As Trent is pulled into Arianna's enigmatic world, his own begins to unravel. The secret he finally uncovers will deeply move him―and jeopardize them both. With the clock ticking her life away, he finds himself questioning everything he knows to be true, and then must summon the courage to take the greatest risk of all. Nothing less than human life―and a major scientific breakthrough―hang in the balance.

A thought-provoking thriller by debut author Kira Peikoff, Living Proof is a celebration of love and life that cuts to the core of a major cultural debate of our time.

Review:
Andrew Gross Reviews Living Proof

At what stage does human life actually begin? Where does "right" reside when state-run religion and medical science collide? In the clashing rocks of faith and human desire, will it be courage or blind devotion to duty that prevails, and can love chart a course between them?

These are a few of the bold themes raised in Kira Peikoff's thought-provoking new thriller, Living Proof, set in the all-too-foreseeable future where the government controls all pregnancies and fertilizations in the ideological battleground between state-enforced values and scientific advancement. Dr. Arianna Drake runs a Manhattan fertilization clinic, but she also harbors a dangerous secret: she suffers from an advancing case of multiple sclerosis, and in conjunction with a brilliant researcher, once a colleague of her scientist parents, Arianna has set up a clandestine, underground lab using outlawed stem cells to find a cure to her disease. But if the state discovers her, she and her coconspirators will be imprisoned for life and her potentially lifesaving research shut down.

Trent Rowe is an agent for the state's Department of Embryo Preservation: devout, ambitious, and, at the same time, searching for true meaning in his religiously dominated life. His fervent Catholic upbringing made him a willing soldier in the war against sacrificing embryos, cloning, and "baby killing." Trent's fanatical boss, Gideon Dopp, suspects Arianna's operation and gives Trent the assignment of getting close to her and exposing her illegal activities. Activities that, if successful, could heal vast numbers of people stricken with her disease.

What takes place is virtually a tug-of-war between devotion and conscience for Trent's unsettled soul—the combatants being his Jauvert-like boss, who hunts Arianna with single-minded zeal; the intense pushing of Trent's religiously driven family for advancement in his career; Trent's growing attraction to Arianna, which threaten his convictions; and his slowly evolving belief that what she and her colleagues are doing is, in truth, not evil at all, but in fact creating a greater good. Arianna's increasing trust in Trent puts her at odds with her lab-mates who are risking everything, worried that any slip in security could cost them their lives.

Peikoff may be a first-time novelist, but she is totally adept at keeping things moving and never polemical, and always balancing the personal, human drama with the science of stem-cell technology and the clock-ticking machinations of the state. Arianna and Trent's delicately evolving love story becomes the battleground of the novel's moral conflict, as Trent faces the Antigone-like choice of either betraying the state and the moral code that has raised him, or the person he has grown to love. Peikoff shows a sophisticated touch in balancing the science and the countdown to potential disaster with the drama of rising human feelings that is the true engine of the book.  

If, like me, you like your thrillers deeply human and always rising in consequence and what's at stake, Living Proof is one for you: page-turning, intellectually stimulating, emotionally satisfying. In this battle between courage and blind duty, it's worth finding out which wins out in the end.

Andrew Gross is the award-winning author of several novels, the latest of which is Eyes Wide Open.

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Title: Living Proof
Publisher: Forge Books
Publication Date: 2012
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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