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Living Proof Hardcover – February 28, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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.


Taut, energetic, and imaginative... A remarkable debut! (Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Fragile)

Kira Peikoff's imagination is a wonder to behold and an amazing place to visit. You have to check this one out. (Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Jefferson Key)

A terrific read--tightly woven and tense as a coiled snake. (Michael Palmer, New York Times bestselling author of A Heartbeat Away)

Living Proof is a rare book. A thriller that keeps you turning pages. A novel of suspense fraught with danger… Kira Peikoff belongs to a very small cadre of writers to watch… I cannot wait to see what she writes next! (M. J. Rose, international bestselling author of The Hypnotist)

Makes you think, makes you sweat, leaves you happy--everything a good book should. (Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of the Jack Reacher novels)

A compelling and thought-provoking thriller…this frighteningly plausible novel will keep you turning the pages all night long. A stunning debut. (Douglas Preston, New York Times bestselling author of Impact)

Peikoff's unsettling, timely debut presents an uncomfortably plausible near-future, in which the destruction of all human embryos has been outlawed in the name of saving the lives of unborn children. … This engaging effort marks her as an author to watch. (Publishers Weekly)

[Peikoff] has taken serious cultural debates from our present-day society and blended them into a tale that's not very fantastical, since we're not far off from bringing this extremely frightening story to life….[Peikoff] will find legions of fans that will admire her 'moxie' and look forward to her second novel. For anyone interested in a writer who cuts to the chase over a highly difficult subject, this is the book for you. (Suspense Magazine)

Living Proof is a well-written thriller that deals with issues of great relevance in today's world: When exactly does an embryo become a human being? Whose life is of most value? To her great credit, Peikoff creates believable, well-rounded characters who represent both sides of a tough moral question. (Mystery Scene Magazine)

The two protagonists are dealing with life and death and even love at a time when religious fanatics are allowed to carry guns into fertility clinics, and scientists are under microscopes. Living Proof is a startling, perceptive debut that examines repercussions for the future if emotion is allowed to trump knowledge. (Award-winning reviewer Lesa Holstine)

Not only does the book force the reader to think about larger issues, but the journey of the characters, and their change in ideology and purpose as the narrative proceeds is so multi-layered and advanced for a debut novel, and worth reading for that alone. (Chantelle Aimee Osman, Poisoned Pen Bookstore)

An intense, thought-provoking thrill ride that will linger within your subconscious long after you have read it. If you are looking for a sharp, fast-paced knockout of a novel that pushes its reader to the edge and forces self reflection and contemplation, then this is a must. (Guy Lopez, Vroman's bookstore)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765329301
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765329301
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,528,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kira Peikoff is a graduate of New York University with a degree in journalism. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Bioethics from Columbia University.

Peikoff splits her time between her two passions--fiction writing and journalism. She is the author of three traditionally published thrillers: LIVING PROOF (Tor, 2012); NO TIME TO DIE (Kensington, 2014); and DIE AGAIN TOMORROW (Kensington, Sept. 2015). Each of her novels delivers a mixture of cutting-edge science, deeply human characters, and explosive high-stakes controversies.

As a freelance journalist specializing in health and science features, she has contributed multiple articles to The New York Times' Science section, Popular Mechanics, Nautilus, and other mainstream media outlets. She also writes a monthly mystery diagnosis column for Cosmopolitan.com

Peikoff is a proud member of The American Society of Journalists and Authors, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and dog.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. The story takes place in 2027 and it centers around a young doctor, Adriana Drake, who along with a small group of partners, owns a fertility clinic in midtown Manhattan, and a young man, Trent Rowe, an agent with the DEP (Department of Embryo Preservation). Other main characters are Sam Lisio, an embryonic stem cell researcher who works with Adrianna and her partners and Gideon Dopp, Trent's boss. In this future time it has become illegal to do stem cell research using embryonic stem cells and the DEP is a government agency entrusted with the task of policing fertility clinics to make sure that all embryonic stem cells which have been harvested from women wishing to have children are accounted for and that none of them are destroyed. Clinics are required to submit monthly reports to the agency, showing the number of stem cells they obtain and they have monthly unannounced inspections where an inspector counts the vials of stem cells and goes so far as to check each under a microscope to verify that is actually what the test tube contains.

Gideon Dopp, head of the NY division, suspects that something may be amiss in Adrianna's clinic because of the large number of embryonic stem cells they deal with and the popularity of the small clinic. The story unfolds from this point. This is one of those books where you really don't want to read any more spoilers before sitting down with the book on your own. I was so wrapped up in the story after the first few chapters that I would go to bed and then have to get up to read more. I became downright antisocial when family members tried to interrupt my reading. It was that engrossing.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In "Living Proof," author Kira Peikoff turns to the world of the near future. The year is 2027 and medical research has become much more conservative. Stem cell research is illegal, IVF clinics are regulated and monitored with severe penalties visited upon those who do not take the appropriate precautions.

Enter our hero, disaffected, jaded DEP (Department of Embryo Protection) agent Trent Rowe. Trent is sent undercover to glean information about a young, successful fertility doctor, Arianna Drake, daughter of a renegade scientist. Although her clinic is above reproach and she passes every inspection without a hitch, Trent's zealot boss, ex-priest Gideon Dopp, believes she is hiding something, and might even lead to a shutdown, which would mean more money, fame and attention for his department. Trent just hopes that doing a good job for the department will add meaning and purpose to his life, which is growing increasingly hollow. For her part, Arianna is coping with a serious illness, and, although drawn to Trent, is unsure whether to trust him.

It's a good solid idea for a novel and an important issue for people to consider. I did, however, find the main characters to be a bit cliche-driven. Also, the story would have benefited from some tighter editing. We hear interior monologues from most of the major characters, as well as being told of their motivations in exacting detail. If the story moved along at a tighter, more purposeful clip, I would have enjoyed it more.

Also, the ending was enigmatic, to put it mildly. While our hero and heroine may do okay, it's hard to imagine what their next steps would be or how they will live into their future lives or effect the kind of change they would like to. It's a decent first novel about an important issue - it will be interesting to see what Ms. Peikoff does next.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The blurb above summarizes the plot nicely, but the book is more than a story--it's a philosophical narrative that presents a strong point of view about where our society might be going. The author's dystopia will join 1984 and Animal Farm as conceivable (but fortunately unlikely) extensions of our world today. In this case, it's the "right to life" that gets expanded and perverted by certain elements of society, to the point where the continued existence (with funding) of several large government agencies depends on their ability to find violators of the new laws that protect embryos and fetuses, as well as prohibit broad areas of scientific research. The author works through a number of possible philosophical positions via her narrative, with a suitably ambiguous conclusion. There are hard scientists that care only about their research, practitioners trying to save adult lives with new (and banned) research, fanatical government bureaucrats whose religious fervor is exceeded only by their need for continued government funding, and of course, Trent, the man in the middle. The book is very thought-provoking. The only difficulty I had with the book is that the author attempts to reproduce the complete unabridged stream of consciousness of every major character, and she also attempts to explain all the science and all the religion and all the politics involved throughout the book. Sometimes the plot is put aside for quite a while as one or another character reflects at great length about his or her upbringing, belief system, and actions. Virtually no thought or doctrine is left to the imagination, and I found the resulting over-written prose somewhat tedious after a while. Orwell and Huxley were both a little more subtle.Read more ›
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